As states cut funding from their university systems, corporations are beginning to invest in four-year programs tailored toward the particular skill sets they need. These programs are in high-demand fields, such as the cybersecurity program at the University of Maryland, which is partly funded by Northrop Grumman. The WSJ reports:
Last year, International Business Machines Corp. deepened a partnership with Ohio State University to train students in big-data analytics. Murray State University in Kentucky recently retooled part of its engineering program, with financial support and guidance from local companies. And the State University of New York College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany and other locations is expanding its footprint after attracting billions of dollars of private-sector investments. […]The emerging model is a “new form of the university,” said Wallace Loh, president of the University of Maryland. “What we are seeing is a federal-grant university that is increasingly corporate and increasingly reliant on private philanthropy.”
Universities shouldn’t become mere corporate training centers, of course, but we’ve mentioned before that schools need to do a much better job of imparting marketable skills to graduates, especially at a time when many degrees aren’t worth the cost. For various reasons, including cost and location, MOOCs seem to be the most fertile ground for successful corporate-university partnerships, but the fact that employers are taking a more active interest in programs in more traditional settings also strikes us as a positive development.