Institutions could mandate planning degrees

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Institutions know the sorts of skills that they are looking for in candidates.

These aren’t necessarily skills focused on throughout a student’s degree – what is critical to one firm, may be unimportant to another.

Kaplan Vice President, Higher Education, Dr Mike Evans has recognised this and says that Kaplan is coming up with a way, not only to get institutions better candidates, but also to better prepare students for their future career.

The way to do this is to frame degrees around the needs of different companies.

“We’ll be doing work with the regulators about how we can start to design degrees for a particular company,” said Evans. “So you might have a Bachelor of Business in financial planning designed for Commbank and that would appear on the student’s transcript, and the curriculum that we teach would be developed in conjunction with the bank itself.”

He says that there is a regulatory issue, as the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA), their regulator, wants to keep a close eye on what they’re doing, but that the principal support is there.

Evans has already been in talks with a few companies and has so far had positive feedback. In fact it has been so positive that he’s hoping they may be able to start a pilot program next year.

“The companies have said ‘the grads that we get don’t really satisfy the needs that we have’ – there’s a gap,” said Evan.

“A corporate degree across the three years would design core, major and elective units, where the content for the assessment is designed in conjunction with the company. So in terms of graduate attributes, course objectives and embedded skills, they are designed in conjunction with the company.”

There will also be internships built in as part of the degree, so grads will be working on projects for credit back to the course.

Evans says that the degree will still have to satisfy Kaplan’s higher education requirements, so doing a degree tailored to one company won’t inhibit a graduate from getting a job at another firm.

“We see that as the future and how we’ll differentiate what our offer is.” And of course, the other universities won’t be far behind.

 “Anything successful will be copied,” said Evans. But Kaplan’s proximity to the industry gives it an advantage, because it can make the most of its industry understanding, and its established relationships.