Presidents, Vice Chancellors, Provosts and Deans around the world are increasingly opting for partnerships to accelerate progress towards their institutional objectives. Since 2010, Universities have forged nearly 2,500 long term partnerships with OPMs, Bootcamps and International Education Partners, marking a milestone for academic public-private-partnerships in higher education.
International Education is ramping back up, potentially bigger than ever. Just last week the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency indicated that UK higher education providers hosted 605,130 international students in the 2020/21 academic year, hitting its 600,000 target a decade earlier than hoped – and through a pandemic no less.
University bootcamp partnerships are booming with nearly 80% YoY growth through the pandemic, delivering over 200 partnerships in 2021 as governments and employers are aggressively seeking accelerated digital skills training and Universities seek contemporary curriculum and employment pathways.
And the OPM model is stronger and in more demand than ever. Digital capability is arguably the number one priority for universities and colleges around the world and the buy, build or partner decision set is intensified by funding constraints, global competition and the need for speed. US Online Enrolments in Post-secondary Institutions are 3.5x higher than in 2012, growing from 2.6 million to 8.7 million in Fall 2020 as MOOCs globally reached over 300 million learners, over 150 million of those from the top 3 alone.
With this backdrop, it is perhaps no surprise that in 2021 nearly 600 new University Partnerships were established around the world. These partnerships include long-term commitments from both partners in areas ranging from International Education to Bootcamps and Online Degree Programs. This is approximately 200 more partnerships than was established in 2020 and double pre-pandemic levels of around 300 partnerships in 2019. At the current rate of partnership growth, 2022 could see anywhere between 800 to 1000 University Partnerships established.
Since 2010, Universities have forged nearly 2,500 long term partnerships with OPMs, Bootcamps and International Education Partners marking a milestone for academic public-private-partnerships in higher education.
80-90% of Bundled OPM Partnerships are revenue sharing relationships.
As we close a record year of OPM Partnerships in the US and around the world, we pause to reflect on the evolution of the primary economic model powering these relationships.
Across the public sector around the world, Public-Private-Partnerships, PPPs (or P3’s as they are commonly referred to in the US) bundle capability, execution and quite often capital, into an economic relationship that seeks to equitably share risk across the partners. As impressive as the 342 OPM partnerships established in 2021 are, this still lags quite significantly behind the number of P3’s established each year in healthcare or infrastructure and other nation-building pursuits. This growing volume of partnerships and precedents in turn helps refine the nature of the economic model and improvements to the risk sharing mechanisms and parameters of a successful partnership.
As Higher Education’s academic PPP maturity evolves, so has the mix of partnerships that adopt a fee-for-service model versus a revenue sharing model. The chart below looks at the respective share of partnership models in the US versus the rest of the world from 2010 to 2021, revealing a strong but moderating preference from Universities to adopt an economic model that shares revenue in lieu of a fee based relationship.
Buy, build or partner? Universities have a number of strategic choices for capability development and digital acceleration.
Every one of the world’s 10,000+ Higher Education Institutions is navigating the disruption of the pandemic, the acceleration of digital transformation and the emerging threat of faster and cheaper up-skilling substitutes and alternatives to formal qualifications. Partnerships are but one of the three main strategic choices facing Universities as they seek to build new capabilities.