EUPRIO, the European higher education communicators’ network, is holding its annual conference in Perugia, Italy, from September 6-9, 2015. NIC MITCHELL looks at some of the talking points.

THE PACE of change is so rapid that we are struggling to have any real idea of what the world of higher education will look like in 2020.

That’s the view of EUPRIO, at least, which sees developments such as digitisation, globalisation and privatisation transforming the face of universities that have lasted pretty much unchanged for hundreds of years.

Students now think nothing of travelling from one side of the world to the other for their degrees and MOOCs and online learning are encouraging study without leaving the house.

What’s university communications going to be like?

So what’s the role of the university communications going to be in 2020? Is it really going to change out of all recognition, as some suggest?

EUPRIO President Christine Legrand

EUPRIO President Christine Legrand

President Christine Legrand, President of the European Universities Public Relations and Information Officers’ association (EUPRIO) says: “When we come together in Perugia we’ll be looking in depth at what all this means for our members – the marketing and communication professionals.”

Titled Turn it upside down, the conference will offer insights into the University, the marketing and communications department and the professional of the future.

Let’s ask some hard questions

Paul Helbing, chair of the conference task force says: “With everything changing so fast, we need to stop for a moment and ask ourselves some hard questions.

“Do we still need all-round professionals? Or, will specialists play a more important role in the future organisation? If so, what future specialist areas can we identify and what skills will these new roles require?

“The growth of social media and citizen journalism has created new stakeholders and big data makes it possible to track and communicate with targets groups more effectively.

“What changes will this bring?

“Will there even be a separate marketing and communications department in the future, or will the universities organise this function differently?

“Many questions – and we’ll be offering some of the answers when we meet in lovely Perugia in September.”

This year EUPRIO’s annual conference will be hosted by Università per Stranieri di Perugia (the University for Foreigners of Perugia).

* This is an abridged version of a news blog on the EUPRIO website