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What keeps global academic leaders and funders awake at night? A recent report from publishers Elsevier tried to find out. Based on interviews with 115 institutional leaders undertaken in partnership with the market research company Ipsos, it found the main worries were securing funding, maintaining educational and research excellence, demonstrating impact on society, health and the environment, attracting and retaining talented staff and achieving social equity. It found that all these were expected to get more difficult.

It also identified looming future challenges, particularly around AI and climate change, often finding significant gaps between leaders’ priorities and how far they felt prepared to meet them.

Responding to the report, participants at a roundtable dinner, hosted by HEPI with Elsevier, agreed that the problems identified in the research resonated with their own experiences. But they also highlighted reasons to be cheerful and possible ways of confronting the challenges they faced.

The dinner, which included vice-chancellors, senior academics and leaders of funding and other sector organisations from across the UK, was held under Chatham House rules, by which speakers express views on the understanding they will be unattributed.

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