Theme 1: Mission, Strategy and Aims

Why is the Mission & Strategy a precondition for a successful collaboration for institutions?

The corporate strategy of collaboration as the determination of long-term goals and objectives is in it’s core the adoption of courses of actions and associated allocation of resources required to achieve goals.

The strategy defines the structure and is the basis of the design of the organization through which strategic initiatives and actions are administered.

It entails specifying the organization’s aims and objectives, developing policies and plans, often in terms of projects and programs, which are designed to achieve these objectives, and then allocating resources to implement the policies and plans, projects and programs.

Strategic management provides overall direction to the institution its staff mainly the programme managers being responsible for the strategy execution with the partners

Research Results

Results from our 6-country quantitative survey

Employers recognize numerous benefits of strategic cooperation for the company, such as incorporating employers knowledge in teaching and learning, identifying future employers and investing in students with work-ready skills (data). However, lack of time and capacity are seen as the main barrier that stands on the way of successful cooperation (data).  Therefore, in the views of employers the most important action to support strategic collaboration with HEIs is to dedicate personnel to manage partnership (data).

HEIs recognize numerous benefits of collaboration with employers (data) while main barriers that hinder it are lack of time and capacity, budget and additional funding (data).  Strategic collaboration between HEIs and Employers still largely relies on Programme manager, head of faculty and head of education institutions to operationalize it (data). Employers and the institutional mission are ranked to have the same influence on strategic collaboration, which is mostly built around participation in teaching, programme development and collaboration in research and development (data).

On the other hand, students are hardly ever involved in those collaboration processes (data), and are not recognized as an important factor of cooperation with employers. Regional policies, like students, play less important role (data), which can be linked to the finding that no explicit regulations and guidelines are in place for boosting the collaboration.

What Works

Success factors and best practice for collaboration

Instituttions can increase their responsiveness to and collaboration with students and employers by involving them in advisory boards, or even as voting members within governance structures. Advisory boards should ideally be set up at each level of institutional governance, from top-management down to individual courses, as appropriate for the type of institution.

Students and business can get involved directly or by collaborating with their representative organizations (such as student  unions or chambers of commerce) on topics touching Higher VET.

True collaboration does not only happen when institutions ask third parties to join them: it also requires institutions to collaborate within its environment, by participating in structures such as chambers of commerce, regional development boards and national skills councils.

Institutions also need to note, that while advisory boards may provide for the highest level of collaboration, it also requires a level of knowledge and commitment which may not always be practical for certain enterprises or students. Thus, advisory boards should form only part of a multi-pronged engagement strategy utilising a host of methods to survey and collaborate with stakeholders.

Employers, find it difficult to work with educational institutions and students due to constantly changing personnel, regulations, funding rules. For this reason, it helps significantly when institutions set up a ‘one-stop-shop’ which may act as a focal point for embedding and managing collaboration with the employment sector. Often this focal point may take the form of a full-time Relationship Manager  or Academic Programme Manager, while other times it may take the form of a dedicated office, depending on the size of the institution.

Similarly, while much collaboration with graduates takes place through alumni networks, these do not generally self-organize. Therefore, the establishing the post of an alumni coordinator allows for students to get in contact with persons, who have studied similar courses. The networking also often results in cooperation through the supply of WBL opportunities.

Advisory boards are suitable structures for long-term structured collaboration, but do not necessarily lend themselves to more project-type work. For specific areas of particularly intense joint collaboration, platforms provide a suitable mechanism. Platforms tend to be set up in a specific area, e.g. nano-technology, and will involve the creation of a specific programme of collaboration often involving creation of new courses, joint promotion of the field, participation of industry in course provision, as well  joint research, development and innovation activities.

Main characteristics of platforms includen their multi-stakeholder nature, their focus on specific business objectives, and a rapid pace of activites with the aim of generating short-to-mid term outcomes.