A New Business Model for Higher Education

I have a larger than normal amount of posts because I’m doing spring cleaning, getting some stuff off my hard drive and into the cloud.  Here’s one

A Meme that has interested me for sometime is that universities should be more like businesses and businesses should be more like universities.  As Susanne Lohmann points out (2004 in Economics of Governance, Vol. 5, 9-27), this is more complex than it might seem on the surface.   But I want to focus not on the past, but on new evolving pressures for change.

  • Situation#1 – Workers need to be involved in continuous learning. The old model that you go to university from 18-22, and then work from 22 – 65 will not work anymore.  The learning community that universities are so good at fostering needs to continue lifelong.  Universities can not continue to ignore alumni (except in regard to charity) and businesses need a model that engages universities and businesses on an ongoing basis.
  • Situation #2 Competitive advantage is now in brains, not brawn. Neither universities, nor businesses can afford to hire all the brains that they will need.  Social media is one response to this problem, but I believe we also need to find more direct engagement.
  • Response Targeted Knowledge Revenue Streams. This idea came to me while reading a HBR article, although I can’t remember which one.  In addition to students, universities should target the development of courses and ed services to the specific needs of businesses. Alumni can be brought into a closer relationship to the university through their use in marketing.  Not only will the alumni’s businesses benefit, alumni will be involved in a more substantial way  as continuing learners and scholars will have a deeper understanding of the knowledge needs of businesses.  This understanding in-turn can be incorporated into regular course improvement.  In fact, this revenue stream will not only increase revenues to the university and provide knowledge capital to businesses, it will also fund course improvement and new course development for the university.
  • Finally, walled gardens will no longer suffice. The continuing development of this knowledge economy will requires porous boundaries in all organizations.  What are the models by which this can be achieved and can this be one?