There is currently increasing pressure on universities to demonstrate how they contribute to their host societies. In the 21st century knowledge society, universities are seen as providing the key raw materials for economic growth, creating knowledge through research activities.
A new ideal-type of university has emerged, the 'world-class university' bringing together the best talents, researchers and facilities to drive national economic development. A wide range of countries – from France to China, from Germany to Saudi Arabia – have embraced this model and selectively rewarded universities conforming to that ideal.
But alongside pressure to be 'world class', universities are also under pressure from increasing student numbers unmatched by resource growth. Universities have responded by increasing efficiency of student delivery, reducing drop-out rates, increasing class sizes and standardising teaching activities.