Relationships between industry and adaptable higher education are ripe for exploration. For-profit education has been hit hard in recent years due to the wholesale assault on its reputation despite the poor actions of a few bad actors. In today's market, for-profit education might be ripe for partnership and investment with major industry leaders and organizations.
It is first important to understand that a few bad actors make it easy to categorize all for-profit universities into the same frying pan. The problem is that just like no two people are the same, no two companies made up of those people are the same either. Some for-profit universities are exceeding the expectations and performance of traditional schools but not getting recognition for it because of the long shadow of public criticism.
This would seem like bad news but ultimately it can be seen as very good news for industries that want an education that is directly relevant for their needs. Depressed stocks will someday rise as public spotlight moves and for-profit universities adjust to meet regulatory challenges. Companies that invest heavily into a promising for-profit university today may not only find their ROI on their stocks rise significant in the future but also have the chance to make higher education more relevant.
There has been a lot of talk about gainful employment and the need to have greater connections to higher education. For-profit education affords an opportunity to create a direct connections to industry leaders, partner with them, and adjust their education to make it most relevant to the market. This means that universities are directly focused on graduating people with applied skill sets.
A growing gap between graduates skills and employer needs has become an important issue when discussing higher education reform. There is an opportunity to significant reduce that gap and fuse business and education together in a way that lowers costs for hiring companies, raises industry knowledge, and improves national competitiveness. Much of it is an act of opportunity and perspective.
For-profit universities are more streamlined than traditional schools and can adjust their educational content relatively quickly when compared with non-profits that have complex bureaucratic structures. Industry information can be quickly implemented and applied in a way that enhances the curriculum of the university and further fulfills the needs of participating employers. Win-win scenarios between industry, government, higher education, and graduate cost/benefit needs are not impossible; it just depends on how we approach the problem.