Magazine article Times Higher Education

Industry Need Sparks Rise in Teaching Aid from Firms

Magazine article Times Higher Education

Industry Need Sparks Rise in Teaching Aid from Firms

Article excerpt

But some fear large gifts from US companies may dictate universities' curricula. Jon Marcus reports

When it is time for students at the University of Delaware's Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics to go to their internships at JPMorgan Chase, they don't leave the campus. They simply head to the JPMorgan Chase Innovation Center, a facility to which the financial services firm contributed $5 million (£3 million) and where some of its employees are on hand to work with students and deliver guest lectures.

This partnership is an example of the exponential growth in connections between US corporations and the teaching sides of universities.

JPMorgan Chase, which also has a centre at Syracuse University where 75 student interns work, last year offered a further $17 million to Delaware to start a doctoral programme in the new field of financial services analytics - which, controversially, it would help to design and assess.

Meanwhile, telecommunications giant AT&T has given $2 million to support a new online master's degree in computer science at the Georgia Institute of Technology that is now in its second semester. And eCornell, a subsidiary of Cornell University, creates custom online professional and executive development courses for IBM, Boeing and other companies.

"It's more than a trend. We've got a fundamental shift happening," said Paul Jones, president of the Corporate and University Relations Group, a consultancy firm focused on "building partnerships of the future" between business and higher education.

These kinds of links are not unusual in research; private companies in the US give $3.2 billion a year to university research projects. But corporate subsidies for teaching are relatively new, and clearly have the potential to be contentious.

The development is being driven by two things: companies' growing frustration with the lack of preparedness of graduates they hire, and universities' desire for new sources of revenue and improved graduate employability rates.

"All of this is a huge opportunity for schools that want to grasp it," said Shaul Kuper, president of Destiny Solutions, which develops software that helps companies work with universities. "And the truth is, corporations are willing to pay. They're willing to pay for the right educations."

Ready to work?

An Inside Higher Ed survey conducted by Gallup and published in January found that 96 per cent of senior university administrators believed they were "somewhat" or "very" effective in preparing their students for the world of work. But in another Gallup poll on higher education issues published last month, only 11 per cent of business leaders "strongly agreed" that graduates had the skills and competencies their businesses needed. …

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