Between 2006 and 2014 CIT had an opportunity to contribute to the development of practice in higher education engagement with external enterprises and organizations through a nationally funded initiative. This project, entitled Roadmap for Employment-Academic Partnership or (REAP), contributed to a considerable furthering of the discourse on academic-enterprise relations in Ireland and has resulted in a number of useful guidelines for practice as well as an improved understanding of what can be achieved through partnership and the commitments required for successful partnerships to be developed and maintained. Launched in November 2011, Cork Institute of Technology’s (CIT) Extended Campus was established as an interface or facilitator, to create and support two-way interactions between CIT, enterprise, and community groups. There is a wealth of world-class research, learning and facilities available in academia but it is not always clear to companies, enterprises, individuals or communities how to connect to this knowledge.
Through the development of a Customer Relationship Management system interactions with companies were tracked and recorded (Sheridan et al. 2013). This facilitated the development of a codification which allowed the various forms of interaction to be grouped and resulted in the identification of three pillars of engagement: Graduate Formation, Workforce Development and Research & Innovation.
The objectives of extended campus are:
• Guide the formation and further development of current partnerships
• Make it easier for external organizations to engage in mutually beneficial interactions with CIT academics and researchers
- Develop a clear view of the extent and depth of existing and desirable engagement interactions to feed into institutional strategy and decision-making
- Stimulate more interactions and measurably support regional economic development
- Ensure that the variety of interactions with companies are collated and built on to develop broader supportive long-term mutually beneficial partnerships
Image: The CIT Extended Campus has worked to codify and quantify the type and number of interactions between the Institution and external partners. This has led to the identification of three key pillars of engagement.
Some short term concrete outcomes:
- Contact and interaction information shared and collated on CRM: 1,360 accounts in total, 2,530 individual contacts to date
- 1050 individuals on Newsletter mailing list
- 1400 Twitter followers
- 28 Case Study exemplars developed for web and print form
- 10 customized learning interactions facilitated for companies
- 20 in-company learning clinics have been facilitated to support individual and cohort upskilling needs identification
Image: Staff of the Extended Campus CIT: Back Row (l to r) Deirdre Goggin; Elaine Boland; Daithi Fallon; Rose Leahy and Vera Barrett. Front Row (l to r) Phil O’Leary and Head of Extended Campus Irene Sheridan.
Irene Sheridan, Head of Extended Campus believes “the model is transferable and can directly benefit any HEI seeking to engage with enterprise in a connected and informed way. Working with the partners on the REAP project the CITs Extended Campus have shared the specifics of the approach and the CRM system with other HEIs in Ireland and abroad. We are open to collaborative projects with partners globally”
Dr John Hobbs ecoRIS3 project co-ordinator in CIT believes that “The case studies showcased on the extended campus of successful partnerships between CIT researchers/students have with the likes of Dell EMC, RedZinc, Polar IceTech, Boston Scientific, Superlum Diodes, Dairygold, Trustev, Instant Solar Ltd etc showcase the success of the model and justify CIT’s investment in this initiative. Researchers, lecturers and ultimately the students are learning and benefiting through the relationships and projects developed.