How to develop regional, global university and local government partnerships that drive value to the partners and the community.
a) Regional universities
Middle East has some centers of excellence (and volume of universities and students) that should be tapped carefully for mutual benefit. Elite universities in the region, generally speaking, have low inclination to set up branch campuses in Dubai/UAE.
Additionally, elite and world ranked universities in India, Lebanon, Egypt, Pakistan, or even central Asia are public universities with limited mandate to set up campuses overseas. Think of Indian Institutes of Technology/Management, American University in Beirut and Cairo, LUMS in Pakistan, Nazarbayev University in Kazakastan. Unlikely that they will set up campuses but they are centers of excellence with whom local UAE universities must build connectivities.
Scope of partnership – faculty and student exchange, joint research, joint innovation labs and projects. Additionally, Semester or year abroad articulations arrangements that help students gain study abroad experience, cultural and social diversity and a professional network beyond their home country and campus. Facilitating some components of these partnership are platforms like – http://www.wainconnect.com/
Higher Education UAE is working with select universities in UAE and building out the UAE Innovation and Academia/Industry Network through this platform.
Global Universities –
Elite universities from US, UK, Europe, and South East Asia (Singapore) have a nuanced decision making structure for international partnerships.
Their schools of continuing professional education/learning and executive programs from their business school are more outward looking and international than their undergraduate programs.
While semester/year abroad programs are generally welcomed they have a laborious process of credit and curriculum equivalency, student academic standards that often impede progress.
Thus, to get ‘quick hits’ local universities should focus on short courses (1-5 days) aimed at corporate/government leadership and management level. These programs ‘travel’ with ease to international locations. Over time instead of fly-in/out faculty from partner university with local operations handled by the local university the model can be ‘jointly taught’ or co-developed for the needs of the local market with dual certification.
Industry partnerships –
Local universities must have an advisory board composed of, primarily, local and international industry subject experts review the curriculum annually and build programmed apprenticeships at relevant companies which is embedded in the curriculum. Industry should be encouraged to throw problem sets at the university students/faculty/researchers that leverage the intellectual capacity, lab and content resources and research discipline of the universities to deliver demonstrable economic value. This will also help universities improve their talent placement performance, research output and rankings.
See link for a very effective an successful enabler of such partnerships – http://www.wainconnect.com/mini-challenge.jsp
Guest speakers from the industry, project or research presentations to industry partners are other ideas that are easy to execute and build meaningful relationships between the university and industry.
Some sectors of the society/economy are managed by the government. Think environment, utilities, law enforcement, citizen and resident satisfaction and happiness, border control, public transport, energy, civil and criminal laws and rules, military to name a few.
To say that these organizations do not require universities as stakeholders would be naive. On the lines of the industry partnerships; universities have a unique opportunity to make a social impact by engaging with the government, understanding the challenges, offer research and problem solving capacity to develop prototypes, design better processes for government services, research problems, attitudes and preferences of government service users, analyze government data and present insights are some ideas.
From my knowledge of government and academia engagement in UAE this is a relatively unexplored opportunity. Unlike mature economies where university-government engagement is fairly systematic and has a history of success UAE (both government and university campuses) should see this as a value building partnership.
In my next blog I will speak about what are the “Things to do” and “Things not to do” for new universities setting up in UAE – or even any new university in any jurisdiction. Until then happy reading…
Author: Ajay Shukla