The paper examines how developing countries can respond to the tremendous pressure to increase capacity in their higher education systems. It concludes that the profile of higher education in developing countries in the coming decades will include a larger role for ‘for-profit’ providers, distance learning and cross border education. One key to expansion is fees policy. Countries that wish to create effective systems will need to develop fees regimes that provide bursaries and loans for poorer students and do not create too great a disparity between public, private, and for-profit providers.
Technological developments, notably the spread of connectivity and the movement to create Open Educational Resources (OERS) could allow price reductions in distance learning that will bring it within the reach of the poorest sections of society. Governments and institutions should encourage the OER movement by contributing materials under the most open licence possible.
The huge increase in the size of the global higher education system will create challenges of quality assurance. International organisations are providing assistance in the form of guidelines for quality in cross-border education.
Finally the complexity of the emerging lifelong learning system will call for competent leaders at all levels and the article concluded with advice for institutional heads.