In order to harness mutual advantages, a need for more creative ways of interacting between organisations and higher education institutions (HEIs) is advocated (Barnes & Phillips 2000). Reduced state funding and increased student numbers place HEIs under strain, especially with regard to staff time. The development of working links with organisations is considered essential to ‘unlock’ professional development of staff, research opportunities and community-service scholarly activity. Partnerships may offer academics the opportunity to access new sources of finance (value for money) and in-kind support for project work, research and other scholarly initiatives. In addition collaboration with voluntary-activity groups offers avenues of opportunity for responsible HEIs.
In practical terms it means that partnerships should be complimentary and result in synergy, which would harness academic interests and add value for the community. HEI involvement in projects proposals/bids could contribute academic rigour. Collaboration with community groupings may result in voluntary input in research and acquisition of local information that is not generally available, as well as local expertise and data. Joint publishing could be mutually beneficial with regard to promoting respective objectives, raising the profile of academics and HEI access to data sets.
Collaboration may involve promoting career advancement of ‘under-employed’ minority groups through tailor-made programmes drawing from HEI counselling and guidance expertise and real-life learning in organisations. Collaboration may result in major cost-savings for organisations and a ‘ripple-effect’ in that other organisations learn about the benefits. HEIs are by definition centres of knowledge and expertise, which are constantly evolving, and which could be applied to the benefit of organisations. Collaborations may further result in jointly winning awards for achievements. Relationships may offer scope for future capacity building.
HEIs' reaching out to organisations, is vital for establishing Cooperative and Work-integrated Education (CWIE) partnership, but also an important step in order to discover other potential areas of mutual benefit.
Barnes, N. J. & Phillips P. S. 2000. Higher education partnerships: creating new value in the environmental sector. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 1 (2): 181-190.