REPORT

In spite of the many known benefits of University-Business Collaboration (UBC), there remain many socio-economic, infrastructural and technological challenges, further to the need for changing the mind-set and reinforcing positive behaviours to maximise the benefits UBC can deliver. From the discussions at the two days of the Thematic Forum the following themes emerged:

  • Successful collaboration and cooperation between higher education institutions and companies are characterised by systemic, long-term two-way partnerships. Recent years have seen a significant positive shift towards this gold standard moving from personal relationships to institutional. However, there remain challenges and if universities are to collaborate with employers more effectively in education in particular, HEIs need to improve on the adaptability of their curricula and speed up their reactions towards companies.
  • The student population is diversifying which creates new pressures on the higher education system. Therefore new and more flex­ible systems, support and educational offers need to be established to encourage student retention and improve employability. Students need guidance to understand the increasingly complex education offer with multiple entry and exit points. Students choices should be driven by personal ambitions and their learning requirements, benefiting from the differentiated learning offers available, not just seeking out elite institutions.
  • Dual study programmes are well established in Germany which help diversify the educational offer and increase graduate employ­ability, especially at the Bachelor level. There are however challenges to be overcome for successful implementation, for example, finding the right teaching and collaborative methods, matching students with the right partners or aligning the needs of the dual and traditional study programme participants.
  • Higher education institutions increasingly explore multidisciplinary teaching models and approaches as a way of exposing students to real life problems and providing companies with access to graduates with a wide range of skills and capabilities
  • Higher education institutions have many roles in an entrepreneurial ecosystem at local, regional and national levels. The roles it develops must be driven by the ultimate needs of the system rather than the institution. Professors and teachers are rising to the challenge of delivering entrepreneurial skills, through new concepts and approaches as this Forum showcased. There are good examples of entrepreneurship teaching offers and training for professors and teachers.
  • For the regions, universities are particularly important in their role of retaining talent, growing new companies and increasing the level of skills in the labour market. However measuring the outcomes and impacts in a more comprehensive manner is still a chal­lenge ahead.
  • There are many types of impacts in University-Business Cooperation including those related to curriculum relevance, employability, new ideas, long term strategic partnerships and networks. For companies as well as for higher education institutions, it is impor­tant to identify and understand the variety of benefits and impacts of collaborating.

Click here to browse the Report of the Forum.