Institutions of higher learning are grappling with a myriad of disruptive external global forces (including the COVID-19 pandemic), which have accelerated the timeline for many highly anticipated improvements and innovations to centuries-old business models. This moment in time underscores the necessity for colleges and universities to intelligently diversify, not just proliferate, their offerings as part of a broader strategy to become more resilient to future “shocks.” The coming of age of university and corporate partnerships has been discussed for decades, and it is the next step on the maturity curve for higher education.
Top-line revenue strategies focused on international enrollment, dynamic pricing and enrollment growth have run their course, and the proliferation of more traditional degree programs has proven to have limited scale. To identify new revenue streams and further develop the industry’s agility in the face of future external challenges, creative leaders are seeking entry into adjacent markets that support the mission of quality higher education but also promise flexibility and long-term growth.
The creation of university and corporate partnerships is one such avenue for progress. Industry leaders like Arizona State University, City University of New York School of Professional Studies, the University of Washington and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have been first movers in this space, partnering with the likes of Aramark, Adidas, Starbucks, Uber, and Prime Communications to offer innovative programs that bridge the gap between employee skill sets and evolving employer needs.