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<nettime> Douglas Belkin, Caroline Porter: Corporate Cash Alters Univers
Patrice Riemens on Sun, 13 Apr 2014 11:44:37 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Douglas Belkin, Caroline Porter: Corporate Cash Alters University Curricula (WSJ)

Here an 'objectivist' description of the phenomenon that regularly stirs
up the discussion on this list. Kind of reality check on mainstream
cheers 9or not), p+5D!

original to:

Corporate Cash Alters University Curricula
By Douglas Belkin and Caroline Porter
April 7, 2014

More companies are entering partnerships with colleges to help design
curricula, as state universities seek new revenue and industry tries
to close a yawning skills gap.

The University of Maryland has had to tighten its belt, cutting seven
varsity sports teams and forcing faculty and staff to take furlough
days. But in a corner of the campus, construction workers are building
a dormitory specifically designed for a new academic program.

Many of the students who live there will be enrolled in a
cybersecurity concentration funded in part by Northrop Grumman Corp.
NOC -0.42% The defense contractor is helping to design the curriculum,
providing the computers and paying part of the cost of the new dorm.

Such partnerships are springing up from the dust of the recession,
as state universities seek new revenue and companies try to close a
yawning skills gap in fast-changing industries.

Last year, International Business Machines Corp. IBM -0.25% 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.

Though these partnerships have been around at the graduate level and
among the nation's polytechnic schools and community colleges, they
are now migrating into traditional undergraduate programs.

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."

States on average cut per-pupil funding for university systems by 28%
between 2008 and 2013, according to the Center on Budget and Policy
Priorities, a left-leaning think tank. Those cuts have forced tuition
up and helped inflate student loan debt to $1.2 trillion. Now they are
prompting schools to seek new revenue streams.

Meanwhile, corporations, concerned about a mismatch between their
needs and graduates' skills, are starting to pick up some of the cost
of select undergraduate programs.

"There is so much rapid change in this field," said Christopher
Valentino, who is overseeing Northrop Grumman's cybersecurity
partnership at Maryland. "Everybody is challenged to keep up."

This merging of business and education has some academics unnerved.
Gar Alperovitz, a 77-year-old political economist at the University of
Maryland, warns of a corporate bias creeping into the academy.

"It's a very, very dangerous path to be walking," he said.

Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education,
which represents about 1,600 college and university presidents, said
the protection of academic integrity is critical for the mission of
higher education.

"The most important concern ? is the absolute requirement on the part
of faculty of independence for their judgment and avoidance of any
conflict of interest," she said.

For many students and their parents who stand to benefit from these
arrangements, these concerns seem esoteric. The programs are pathways
to good internships and high paying jobs.

Christian Johnson, a 19-year-old first-year student in Maryland's
cybersecurity program, said he chose the school specifically because
of the partnership. Along with computer-science courses, he will take
10 classes focused on cybersecurity that were designed, in part, by
experts from Northrop Grumman.

In one class, he is working on projects with students majoring
in criminology and business. "I can really see how my skills are
applicable," he said.

The corporate partnership was a huge selling point to attract the
program's first 48 students, who came in with stellar academic
transcripts, said Michel Cukier, a computer-science professor and
associate director for education of the Maryland Cybersecurity Center.

"If you can tell them that a major company like Northrop Grumman is
very interested in them, it resonates a lot with the students, but
also amazingly with the parents," he said.

The relationship between industry and academia dates to the Civil
War-era law that created land-grant universities, whose research
helped fuel a century of economic growth. After World War II, the
federal government invested heavily in organizations such as the
National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation to fund
even more academic research that often found application in industry.

But as state and federal governments have withdrawn resources and the
pace of technological change has quickened, the gap between schools'
curriculum and industry needs has widened.

The result: about 30% of recent college graduates with bachelor's
degrees have jobs that are better suited to those with high-school
diplomas or associate's degrees, according to the Center on Education
and the Workforce at Georgetown University.

At the same time, a recent Gallup poll found that only 11% of business
leaders strongly agree that college graduates have the necessary
skills and competencies to succeed in the workplace.

The emerging public-private partnerships are part of a response to
that mismatch, said Anthony Carnevale, an economist who studies the
intersection of higher education and the labor market at Georgetown

"Employers now require stronger skills of entry," Mr. Carnevale said.
"The labor market wants more specific things out of you."

Brian Fitzgerald, chief executive of the Business-Higher Education
Forum, which works to build partnerships between corporations and
universities, says the arrangements are the logical next step in
connecting academia to the job market. Mr. Fitzgerald has helped
roll out partnerships at more than a dozen schools, such as Case
Western Reserve University in Cleveland, California Polytechnic State
University, San Luis Obispo, and Bellarmine University in Kentucky,
focusing on engineering, big data, life sciences and energy, among
others. Aside from Northrop Grumman, the University of Maryland has
also created partnerships with Siemens SIE.XE -0.75% and Lockheed
Martin LMT -1.04% in the past few months.

At Murray State, Danny Claiborne, department chairman of the Institute
of Engineering, said he meets with about 10 companies a month that are
anxious to hire graduates with the skills they need.

The school recently revamped its engineering programs to cater to
electrical and mechanical engineering, an area known as mechatronics,
that local employers are pushing. "That's a word that industry brought
to us," Mr. Claiborne said. "We developed that program based on the
fact that industry wants those two subjects combined."

After a launch in late 2012 and further development last year, IBM
invested millions of dollars in a data-analytics center in Columbus,
Ohio, based in part on a partnership with Ohio State. In exchange for
direct access to students and curricula, the company sends employees
to the school campus, provides software, and hires more than a dozen
students for internships.

Jim Spohrer, director of IBM Global University Programs, sees such
ties growing. "For the partnerships to grow in sophistication," he
said, "both universities and industry are going to have to change."

Write to Douglas Belkin at doug.belkin {AT} wsj.com and Caroline Porter at
caroline.porter {AT} wsj.com

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