The Role of Collaboration and the Future of Higher Education
The world strives to abolish geo-cultural barriers and embrace globalisation with each passing day. The concept of globalisation enables anyone to get access to the best infrastructure and facilities without moving outside their geographical location. But achieving that feat is no walk in the park. Globalisation requires detailed knowledge of how an event in one part of the world can impact other countries. Understanding the local and regional perspectives, cultures, identities, and responses to the event play a major role in advancing toward the common goal. This is only possible through seamless collaboration and data sharing between two organisations. This concept has branched out to other fields, and education is no exception. Here we will try to get a detailed insight into how collaboration is reshaping the future of higher education.
Higher education is getting increasingly complex as it includes essay helper dissertation,college essay , research paper help and many more and the only way to resolve that is through interconnectedness and internationalisation. That era is gradually declining, where universities have grown by teaching curriculums that are designed keeping local cultures in mind. And this is true for SMEs and big companies as well. A survey conducted by Ernst and Young confirmed that approx. 800 organisations are struggling because of old strategies like not expanding and collaborating to overcome their inefficiencies. This data proves even more that collaboration is the key to achieving strategic advantage more than ever.
Though educational institutions suffer from financial constraints, their response to the dynamic market situation should not be solitary and separate. Rather, these changing circumstances offer colleges and universities abundant options to join forces with other institutions and strengthen their foothold for the coming years. The new wave of collaboration goes beyond simple agreements between two colleges. It is not about sharing a back office or cross-list academic courses. Currently, the collaboration refers to two esteemed institutions working together to reshape their common future goals. It is no more a fancy option that they can overlook. Nowadays, collaboration has become a necessity and a strategic decision to survive and accommodate the rising number of students.
Why Should Institutions Collaborate?
Universities see their budgets cut short for higher education. The main reason is that currently, there are too many colleges competing to serve too less students. Especially the smaller colleges have witnessed a severe drop in enrolment. To put that into perspective, these colleges have seen their student numbers drop by more than 5% since 2010.
With lesser students enrolling for the courses, they are not hand-tied to give high discounts in a plight to attract students. Since 2014, many small colleges with less than 1000 students are offering up to 50% off their registration fees. However, the overhead costs and teacher salaries mostly saw a hike. Since universities and colleges rely a lot on the bulk income from registration fees, a drop in revenue has now questioned their financial viability.
The only way to counter this persistent issue is by offering more value for the same price or reducing costs. So, it wasn’t long before the academic administrators realised they must start collaborating with other players to stay afloat. In the current learning era, the institution’s scope and size play a significant role in determining success. Moreover, having a solid foundation gives them the necessary insurance to hedge the adverse forces of customer demand.
This is why even the leading colleges and universities are joining hands to develop sustainable strategies for constant revenue generation. The problem with the present models is that the colleges are overly dependent on cost-cutting strategies like procurement of materials. Collaboration allows them to develop new models and cement their positions as leaders through minimal risks.
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When to Collaborate and What is the Best Way to Collaborate?
There is no fixed way that guarantees institutions instant success through collaboration. There are multiple options, and institutions must assess their needs and risks on a predefined scale. Through proper analysis, the universities can understand under which category they fall based on their risk appetite and volume.
Based on the categories, colleges and universities can choose either of the two routes to collaborate with others. The two reasons are –
Academic institutions that have estimated an efficient operation by functioning at a large scale try to grab the opportunities for growth, even if that means involving risks. When they operate on a large scale, they feel profits from other avenues can overcome even small losses. Hence, they feel collaborating with larger institutions means more opportunities for constant revenues.
For example, the Keck Science Department is shared among three California-based colleges – Pitzer, Claremont McKenna, and Scripps. This department has been developed at the intersection of the three colleges. This allows the students from all three colleges to enrol here for a vast range of academic majors they cannot find in the individual colleges.
We can find similar arrangements elsewhere too. For example, the famous Wellesley College, Franklin W. Olin Colleges of Engineering, and Babson College formed a trio with enhanced academic infrastructure. Students, who previously didn’t have the choice to explore courses in individual colleges, can now choose any subject from liberal arts, management and entrepreneurship, and engineering. This decision has been extremely beneficial for both students and colleges.
Although the three colleges mentioned above are in close proximity, there is nothing written in stone about being in close proximity for collaboration. The best example is the consortium formed by Haverford, Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg, Swarthmore, and six other colleges separated by hundreds of kilometres. Their collaboration aimed at the development of faculties, risk and compliance management, and studying abroad.
The situation is a bit different from smaller colleges. Instead of finding new opportunities, they collaborate to survive by minimising the risk factors. Small colleges lack abundant financial backup. They always depend on tuition fees to keep their business running. With lesser students, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to bear the operational costs. Cost-cutting techniques can only work up to a certain extent. Moreover, it is impossible to cut education budgets when that is a college’s primary function.
So, in order to survive, multiple small colleges come together to create a bigger fund and a larger student pool. Moreover, public colleges cannot always hike their fees like private colleges. So, the trend of combining private and public colleges has also become quite popular. Although this move has received opposition from the education fraternity and legislators, there is no denying that some unpopular decisions are necessary for the survival of these colleges.
There have already been six campus mergers in Georgia, the USA, since 2011. It was not always about managing budgets but also focusing better on student-centric initiatives. For example, the Texas A&M Health Science Centre merged with Texas A&M University in 2013 to arm their students with better research facilities.
How to Structure a Sustainable Collaboration Plan
Identify the areas that are lagging
Collaboration can be of different types and not necessarily a merger or acquisition. It is common for institutions to collaborate for service-oriented and administrative tasks solely. But if you are willing to collaborate, here are a few questions worth pondering –
- What kind of collaboration will be ideal for your institution?
- To which extent should you collaborate and stay financially viable?
- Which mode is more beneficial? Reducing expenses or boosting student value
- What gains will you receive from a collaboration of academic and administrative departments?
- How much power shift can be allowed during collaboration?
Once you answer these questions, then you can move on to the next step.
Plan potential partnership opportunities
When choosing the perfect partner to collaborate with, the focus should be on functionality rather than proximity. Also, there are several issues that require clarity before moving into collaboration. Administrative tasks are challenging, and it involves long negotiations to ensure that both colleges are getting some benefit out of it. Here are some vital questions to ask before planning potential partnerships –
- What factors (common goals, geography, mindset, etc.) to look for to determine the attractiveness and feasibility of a potential partner?
- Which organisation best matches the type of collaboration you want?
- Will it be justified to explore other opportunities along with the potential partner?
- How will the two parties operate while cooperating?
Once you find answers to how you should conduct the collaboration to honour the common strategic and financial visions, you can continue to the final step.
Continue taking advantage of the collaboration
Most institutions fail after moving to the final phase of collaboration. Forming a partnership isn’t as difficult as maintaining it. So, instead of just collaborating with someone, put good thought into how to make it sustainable. Seek answers to these questions beforehand –
- What can we do to get the full benefits of the cost-saving decisions from the earlier phases?
- How can we use collaboration to expand academic values and services, thereby increasing value in front of the students?
Once you get the answers to these questions, you can confidently move into a new partnership and create a sustainable academic environment, thereby improving the future of higher education.
Collaboration is not a new thing among colleges. Historically, we had seen numerous times when colleges shared security and offices. However, there hasn’t been any significant movement in academic terms like degree sharing or exchanging departments. As we move into a new era of higher education, we can gradually understand that collaboration is the only viable method to adopt in order to survive. Education being one of the most crucial elements of today’s world, compromising on quality is never an option. So, instead of slashing the budgets, smart collaboration can give the education industry the elixir to transform the world of higher education into the utopia we dream of.