770 Universities. 200 OPMs, Bootcamps and Pathways.

Thirty plus years of public-private partnerships are the foundation of a broad University partnership ecosystem supporting institutional objectives and innovation of the higher education model.

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Universities are establishing public private partnerships en-masse as the Higher Education model evolves and innovates. The buy, build or partner decision is also extending to ‘share’, as global higher education moves through one of the most significant structural changes since formation.

As at Q3 2020 (ending September 30), over 770 Universities across the US, UK, Canada, Australia, India and a handful of other markets have established long-term public-private partnerships for academic programs. These partnerships are formed with now over 200 Online Program Managers (OPMs), Bootcamps and International Pathways Providers bringing much-needed enrolments, specialist learning design, digital delivery and service capabilities, and stronger pathways to employment.

In addition to tracking and measuring the evolution of academic public-private partnerships, informed by research and with input from institutions worldwide, HolonIQ has recently released an Open Source Higher Education Digital Capability (HEDC) Framework to support every institution’s digital journey at www.digitalcapability.org

As we snapshot the ‘state of play’ in academic public-private partnerships, lets zoom out and retrace the evolution.

The evolution of academic public private partnerships

~30 years ago Pathways Partnerships were formed as universities sought partners to help recruit and integrate International Students as the mobility boom took hold. Competing for the massive global flows of students from emerging markets seeking an ‘advanced economy’ credential, pathways providers focused on recruiting international students and developing specialized curriculum and acculturation. International students brought diversity and global mindsets to their University while boosting much-needed income supplementation for the institution.

The OPM model emerged at the turn of the century as distance learning went online and universities engaged private partners to support growth in demand from an increasingly diverse group of learners, with new needs in terms of where, when and how learning occurs.

Just under 10 years ago the MOOC was born with ambitions of opening access to hundreds of millions of learners to a university education. Shortly thereafter the Bootcamp model took to extension schools and colleges around the world seeking faster, cheaper and stronger pathways to technology careers to compliment broader undergraduate and graduate education.

Initial fears of these models ‘replacing’ university education have, for the most part, given way to a post-secondary education landscape that is increasingly characterised by collaboration rather than competition and mixed models over discrete options. As the hard lines soften between formal and informal learning, and between education and work, we will likely see strengthened partnerships and affiliations between universities, vocational colleges, tech companies, employers, industry associations, bootcamps and pathway providers that make up the post-school education and training landscape.

Bootcamps. Back to the Future.

The ‘Bootcamp Partnership’ is now the fastest-growing academic public-private partnership segment. Universities around the world are under pressure with qualified funding from governments to offer short and fast, very high ROI, technology skills led and employer integrated programs. Bootcamps, having shifted rapidly in COVID from a predominately B2C, place-based immersive format to online, project-based learning platforms are seeing the potential for B2B growth through partnerships with institutions.

Together Bootcamps and Universities make a compelling partnership. The University brings an incredible brand and reach alongside enviable academic credentials and governance along with a ready-made learner group. The Bootcamp brings a modern, short and immersive format led by instructors from industry and a line up of recruiters looking for talent.

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