The rise of the mega-competitor

September 11, 1998

Corporate universities

Unipart "U": Established in 1993 by the Unipart Group of companies, based at the group's head office in Oxford. Led by the Deans Group chaired by Dan Jones, professor of motor industry management at the Cardiff Business School. Unipart "U" has two main facilities: the Learning Curve - the company's resource centre; and the Leading Edge - a showroom and drop-in training centre for new technologies seeking to overcome employees' "fears" of technology. Unipart "U" runs 180 courses designed to be relevant to employees' work training programme.

Body Shop: The New Academy of Business: Founded in 1995 by Anita Roddick, Body Shop chief executive. Pump primed with Pounds 250,000 to provide a socially and ecologically responsible business education. Modules offered from the University of Lancaster's MBA programme and the University of Bath's part-time MSc programme in responsibility and business practice. Research funded by the Ford Foundation.

Virtual universities

Western Governors University: Formed in 1997 when United States Western University governors decided to share resources and expand. Set up as a virtual university with the aim of widening participation in post-secondary education and reducing institutional costs of providing courses. 17 states and territories are involved.

British Aerospace: Virtual University launched in May 1997 and founded in April this year. Mission to build centres of excellence in research and development, professional management, customised graduate degrees, apprenticeships and training. Employees offered study opportunities with other academic organisations. Three faculties: engineering and manufacturing technology, the international business school, and the faculty of learning.

Mega universities

Indira Gandhi National Open University, India: Established in 1985 by act of parliament to advance and disseminate learning and knowledge through traditional means and new technologies. Functions as an open university with relaxed entry requirements. In 1997, the number of students enrolled was 393,388, with an annual intake of 95,000.

Mega virtual universities

The University of Phoenix: Accredited in 1978 as a United States private institution for business and management. It is a for-profit institution providing online and distance learning to working adults. Year-round programmes with one course each five to eight-week period. Students can learn through an online campus, the Centre for Distance Education, or self-paced professional training through CPE-Internet. The university has six campuses and learning centres in the US and Puerto Rico, with 48,000 students.

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