As we argued in the article Rethinking non-profit/profit partnerships in higher education, We think it is best for universities to reflect carefully before establishing partnerships with for-profit companies.

Of course, there are many good reasons to cooperate with external suppliers. Without key external suppliers and service partners, no higher education institution can operate. But when these partners outsource core competencies, we are worried.

Few people would disagree with this view. If a university outsources its core functions, what else can the university do besides managing a different set of services?

But part of our concern is that we may not always be able to distinguish between complementary services and core capabilities. In our last article, we recommend that no university consider outsourcing its academic department.

Obviously, the academic department is the bread and butter of a university. A core competency, if any.

Nevertheless, when the MOOC boom in 2012 occurred, many people were very optimistic about the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčoutsourcing entry-level courses to MOOCs taught by star teachers from all over the world (if the best introductory course in statistics can be, why teach statistics? Getting started? Can your students use it?).

If scholars are not sacred, it is easy to understand that other capabilities that may not be so obvious (perhaps renewed) may not be considered core.

One area that we pay particular attention to is support for teaching and learning. There are many lessons in eighteen months, but what is certain is that The need for more teaching and learning support is one of them.

In the unprecedented distance learning migration process in the spring of 2020 and 2022, the work of those who support teaching and learning has achieved rapid and complex teaching and learning.

Helping teachers think about the complexity of online teaching (not to mention teaching in person or digitally in a mixed curriculum) should be a core competency of 21st century universities.

The need to invest in this support is one of the arguments of our book, Learning innovation and the future of higher educationHowever, when schools consider transferring courses online, teaching and learning support are the first things to outsource, which is also a fact.

We believe that schools should not outsource this ability, but should look for ways to invest and build this ability.

In a future article, we will propose some principles that we believe colleges and universities should consider when considering outsourcing.

However, for now, what areas do you think have become the core competitiveness of universities, and these areas are often not recognized?


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