The world is still looking for the most effective way of educating and training people. Privately owned universities and institutions are keeping their eyes on initiatives in the business sector.
Universities are looking towards the most efficiently built organizations of the last decade, noticing how they have construed to scale up. With the arrival of the internet and lower cost technologies, institutions have had to formulate new strategies. They have created online platforms for their students, saved money by reducing their dependency on infrastructure and extended their reach to students who are based around the world.
Tim Dodd, the Higher Education Editor for the Australian newspaper, says universities are following the Uber-model when it comes to transformation. He writes:
“Does this business model remind you of anything? To me it smacks of Uber or Airbnb, companies with no physical assets but enticing enough to consumers to dominate their sectors. So here’s the question. Are we entering the age of the Uber-university?”
Even investment companies are conceding that Uber, as a case study, has made them rethink how they provide their services to customers. Uber’s business model has led them to be the most profitable taxi service in the world. (They originally did not own the cars, but now have engineers designing automated vehicles that are self-driving.)
Many universities and institutions are hoping to follow suit; they are realigning their businesses to resemble a zero-cost operation like Uber without the cost of cars.
Business...what is it good for?
Companies are growing in strength and offering services that their founders probably never dreamed they would be offering when they founded their companies. Amazon, for example, is teaming up with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan to provide health insurance.
It is not outside of the scope of thinking, therefore, that private companies provide effective education and training which has diverged from its traditional approach.
Salim Ismail, the author of a book named ‘Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it)’, saw the rise of exponential organizations back in 2014.
Ismail asserts in the book that a Fortune 500 company would have typically taken 20 years to be worth a billion dollars, whereas smaller more efficient companies like Uber, have done it in much more quickly. Ismail writes:
“We have entered the age of the billion-dollar startup and soon, the trillion-dollar corporation, where the best companies and institutions will be moving at seemingly light speed. If you haven’t transitioned into an Exponential Organization as well, it will not only seem as though your competition is racing away from you, but also, like Kodak, that you are sliding backwards at breakneck speed into oblivion.”
Closing the gaps in engineering
Universities and educational institutions have historically offered engineering courses that covered a vast and sprawling number of engineering subjects; those they envisioned would be needed in the industry.
However, as technology advances, specifically skilled engineering technologists are often needed quickly. Institutions, therefore, are beginning to offer niche curricula so that industries can be fed specialized professionals more speedily. In a traditional approach an undergraduate and specialized postgraduate degree would have been needed.
With engineering requiring hands-on skills some have cast doubt on an approach to learning which involves an online platform. Tim Dodd disagrees. He writes:
“Yet, even here, it’s amazing what practical skills students can learn using virtual reality devices linked to smart learning software. This means that in courses where it is necessary to have face-to-face interaction with students, it doesn’t necessarily require all the physical infrastructure found in today’s university campuses.”
Ismail, Salim, et al. Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, and Cheaper than Yours (and What to Do about It). Diversion Books, 2014.
Theaustralian.com.au. (2018). [online] Available at: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/costsaving-pressures-create-a-place-for-uberversity-model/news-story/d39eee8f62fbab46c73b66b314646c5f [Accessed 14 Feb. 2018].