Leader: Corporate universities can teach us a lesson

August 23, 2002

As if Britain's new universities have not got enough to worry about in attracting students, there is a renewed warning this week of the threat of corporate universities eroding their market. The qualifications they award may lack the prestige of degrees from older universities, but their other attractions are legion. They teach skills that employers are known to want. And their students have salaries at a point in their lives when full-time students are working in bars at midnight to pay their way. Even a £30-a-week educational maintenance allowance would seem niggardly by comparison.

Clever universities will react to this challenge by ensuring that they become the providers of the courses and materials that corporate universities need. There are plenty of precedents, such as University College London's relationship with BT. They will also try to become the main providers of the courses delivered by the proposed National Health Service University. But as the economy needs more people with high-level skills, it would be unwise to assume that existing institutions will be the right place to educate all of them.

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