Higher Education Tech Market: Future Trends, Opportunities and Challenges

The education and learning technology sector contributes more than £1 billion to the U.K. economy each year, and in the process has established some of the most innovative startup companies in the world. The EdTech sector is one of the fastest growing in the UK and is expected to reach £3.4bn by 2021.

techUK was delighted to host a briefing session putting the spotlight on the higher education market and the opportunities for the tech market. We were delighted to welcome to the panel Dale Peters, Principal Analyst, TechMarketView; Peter O'Rourke, Director of IT, University of Suffolk; and Jude Sheeran, CEO, Eduserv.

It was highlighted that higher education is the bright spot of edtech. With the steady rise of students enrolling, growing fees students are now more like consumers creating a more competitive environment for universities.

Student Recruitment, Retention and Experience

The increase in tuition fees coupled with fierce global competition has created a competitive environment for universities in attracting and retaining students, placing additional importance on optimizing the student experience.

As such we are seeing investment in enrolment software to improve engagement with students, as well as increased use of chatbots to automate the recruitment process. Utilisation of data analytics and machine learning to analyse, measure and report on student experience to prevent student drop-outs.

The HESA website was referenced as a useful tool to understand how the sector collects and uses data.

Changing Market

Most UK universities now use summer clearing and make unconditional offers and this is to help generate financial surplus as universities are dependent on student fees. The key ask to suppliers is how will your solution help increase student recruitment and improve retention rates. As such, IT directors might not necessarily be the best point of contact but those tasked with student recruitment and experience. However, when engaging with IT work with them to help make the business case to others in the institution.

Partnering with universities and making them an early adopter was suggested as a potential model.


Universities also have so much data themselves so suppliers can work with them to make better intelligence/decisions based on existing data.

Tech Trends

We are also seeing a shift to the cloud and move to Internet of Things on campus which is in itself creating more data. Longer term higher education institutions are looking at blockchain.

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