Why Universities need to get their act together…soon
Bite size thoughts by Dr. Constantine “Dino” Kiritsis
In 2002, I had made a prediction relating to the value of professional qualifications. I noted that there will be a day when Universities would actually advertise their courses by stating that they ‘base’ their curriculums and programmes on the body of knowledge of professional associations and institutes.
There are Universities that offer Finance degrees at Bachelors or Masters level stating that they ‘prepare candidates for the CFA – Chartered Financial Analyst designation” or “our course is based on the SHRM – Society for Human Resource Management competency model”. Other Universities have actually partnered with associations like the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) or the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales). The trend was becoming evident as was the value. At this point, many Universities – mainly in the business area - are actually ‘selling” their programmes by stating that they will help the candidates achieve their ultimate goal, which is not just to get a degree, but to get professionally certified. The examples are numerous. Not only that, parents who are in the business world are actually coaching their children and asking advice from educational counselors on what programme they should enroll to eventually either receive exemptions from a professional qualification or the best preparation to opt for a qualification that would enhance chances of employment.
The education industry is changing and there are new players in the market. Corporations have – in the past 15 years – started to take on the responsibility to train their people AND their markets by creating so-called Academies, or Universities. As the former Head of PwC’s Academy in Greece and an acting advisor and curriculum expert for PwC in Serbia and the Middle East for close to a decade, I can come up with numerous examples and reasons why a corporation would take the responsibility to educate but also invest a considerable amount of money in doing so: Quality control, practical approach, cherry picking, motivation of employees, knowledge management, cross-selling and many more.
In the past 15 years, the distance between the University and the Corporation has grown and Universities are having a tough time keeping up with the fast pace of the markets. This is a global reality. If a certain change is announced by the European Central Bank, corporations attack it the next day. Universities take time to assess and evaluate and then decide on how to handle, maybe embed it into a curriculum, write a book or an article. Time is money and corporations cant wait. They (corporations) need to comply with the new regulation, assess and interpret a new IFRS, a new accounting treatment on leases, a new tax law, a new business model applicable in the digital world, and have cases to showcase with their clients. The market forces them to move fast and to respond. Of course, to be fair, the role of the University is to provide the basis, the foundations required for students to be able to conduct analysis etc.; however, even in this case, their focus is purely based on ‘knowledge’ (in many cases with outdated material) when the problem is ‘evaluation’, ‘synthesis’ and application (I have written about the topic in previous posts).
Don’t get me wrong. This reality does not apply to all Universities as I am sure there are some stars out there. Universities need to get their act together and start thinking of real change as they may be risking their existence soon ad face competition from accelerators, intermediaries, corporate Universities and Academies…