Even the top schools acknowledge that much of the more formulaic learning can be done online, often before the campus programme begins. But surely this is an argument for cutting the length of the on-campus programme? Even if universities still have their heads in the sand, prospective students do not. According to a national opinion poll conducted in 2012 for Northeastern University by FTI Consulting, nine out of 10 respondents aged between 18 and 30 said the US education system had to innovate to be internationally competitive.