Business schools 'failing' mid-sized firms

Business schools are failing to help mid-sized companies as much as they could and so are holding back the UK's economy and society, a new report has concluded.

A report by the Business Schools Task Force, established by the government in November 2011, has asked schools to put in place an "engagement plan" to get businesses involved in events, lectures, and conferences.

Business schools should promote careers in mid-sized businesses (MSBs), defined as having a turnover of £25 million to £500 million, to their students, and not just focus on big firms.

The task force is composed of business school academics and representatives of the Confederation of British Industry and the government-run UK Trade and Investment.

Business schools can and often do provide companies with training for executives, advice, bespoke courses and access to useful research and networks, the report says.

However, firms lack information about how to approach universities, the report says, and often incorrectly believe that help will be costly, or completely free.

Firms also imagine they will get "theory and not applicable knowledge" if they approach an institution.

For their part, business schools do not think that MSBs employ many graduates and so do not establish recruitment links, the report adds.

The report recommends that every business school has a "clearly identified initial point of contact for business".

Their websites should be user friendly and employ "language easily understood by a layperson".

Another barrier is that academics in business schools are rewarded on the basis of their research rather than "corporate engagement and delivery of executive education", the report says.

Every school should have an MSB representative on its advisory board, it recommends.

"We are failing to make the most of our world-class business schools. There is a widespread recognition that our society, economy and universities are all diminished by a failure to overcome the challenges of connectedness to this important sector," the report argues.

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