FACILITATING EXTERNAL ENGAGEMENT AND DEVELOPING INDUSTRY-FOCUSED PROGRAMMES IN CORK INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (CIT)
As organisations focus on economic indicators and return on investment their approaches to learning and development opportunities are transformed. In a challenging, competitive climate there is a need to ensure that long and short term benefits are maximised.
While engagement is often presented as a third mission of universities, encompassing the full range of external interactions with enterprises, individuals and communities, separate and distinct from the first two missions of teaching and research, is only effective if it is closely interlinked with them.
Vorley and Nelles (2008) describe the third mission as a ‘thread that has the capacity to weave together teaching and research, while assuming a more economic and societal focus’. As described by Goddard ‘Insofar as external engagement is taking place, the academic heartland is protected by specialist units dealing with technology transfer and continuing education. However the external engagement agenda… requires institutional responses, co-ordination and transversal mechanisms.’ (Goddard 2005: 30).
This case study describes the experience and issues raised for Cork Institute of Technology, a Higher Education Institution (HEI) in Ireland in responding to the challenges. The institute has created a dedicated unit to facilitate effective engagement with industry and to ensure that engagement is integrated and at the core of strategy and practice. This case study explores experiences in bridging the gap between the institution and industry and in implementing industry focused programmes developed in partnership, which are mutually beneficial and maintain academic standards. It also addresses the enablers, challenges and barriers in customised course development.