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View from the top

Academic leaders' and funders' insights on the challenges ahead.

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View from the Top - Academic leaders' and funders' insights on the challenges ahead

The road ahead

Today’s institutional leaders face a shifting landscape of challenges. View from the Top: Academic Leaders’ and Funders’ Insights on the Challenges Ahead explores the complex issues academic leaders and funders face, their preparedness to tackle them, and the strategies they’re developing to ensure long-term success for their institutions.

Developed from interviews of over 100 global senior leaders done in partnership with Ipsos, View from the Top provides insight into both current priorities and those expected to pose even more significant challenges in the coming years, such as AI governance and climate change.

Lady looking outside the window

Key findings: Academic leaders

  • 89% view research as their principal challenge, and 93% say maintaining research excellence is a clear focal point.

  • 84% pinpoint funding as a high priority, with 66% anticipating that this challenge will intensify over the next five years.

  • 80% say demonstrating societal impact is a high priority; however, only 43% say that they are well prepared to do this.

  • 75% see talent, including the recruitment and retention of staff, as a significant challenge. 66% predict that managing human capital will only become more difficult in the future.

Professor lecturing

Key findings: Funding leaders

  • Similar to academic leaders, "Outcomes and impact" is a top priority, and two-thirds believe the challenge of demonstrating impact will become much greater over the next five years.

  • Over two-thirds feel securing finances is crucial to deliver on their top priorities; half see this challenge becoming much greater in the future due to stagnant funding growth and rising research costs.

Meeting in office

Key takeaways for Library Leaders

Achieving excellence in research and offering excellent education remain high priorities for institutions. Yet, these are not without challenges. Library leaders and their teams are uniquely placed to help academic leaders address these challenges through information and technological expertise, as well as a variety of emerging services.

  • 93% of leaders put a high priority on ensuring research excellence, only 56% feel well prepared to meet this challenge

  • 82% of leaders consider educational excellence a high priority and 64% feel well prepared to tackle the challenge

  • 64% of leaders rate AI governance as a top priority, only 23% feel their institutions are well prepared for this challenge

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"There will be a redefinition of the core task of universities. That is something which we see happening now in a lot of countries, universities asking themselves what is our goal in society and for society?"


Academic Leader

Europe, Middle East and Africa

View from the top

View from the top: Read the full report

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"The report highlights the gaps between the perceived importance of several challenges, such as talent recruitment and retention, demonstrating societal impact, and research facility provision, versus the readiness to address them. There are many positives and opportunities that also emerge, including the preparedness leaders feel to deliver research excellence and address governance and regulatory challenges. Elsevier is committed to learning from the report results and identifying where we can support academic leaders and funders where needed.”

Dr Nick Fowler


Nick Fowler

Chief Academic Officer, Elsevier

Back to Earth: Landing real-world impact in research evaluation.

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