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How Colleges & Universities Can Collaborate With Schools

Written by Jaspal Sidhu
SIS Group of Schools, Founder and Chairman

Jaspal Sidhu

The education industry in Asia is booming. Private and international schools are growing at an unprecedented rate. Private equity funders, family offices, venture capital funds are scouring for opportunities in the sector. This in turn has created a new breed of high school graduates seeking colleges and universities that suit their economic and personal profiles. The United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Australia are their current destinations of choice.

In fact, today universities and colleges have created outposts and taken on agents to attract students, besides the traditional college fairs that they take part in. I often meet representatives of these colleges. I say to them they have two choices; either be amongst the sea of other colleges trying to win over students seasonally. Or, build long-term relationships with schools, and in that process have direct access to the parents and students.  

So what do schools need?

For starters workshops and short courses for students on 21st century skills. These could be writing, communication or entrepreneurial skills. Faculty members seek exposure to teaching skills. Colleges now are becoming part of the destinations around learning journeys that schools conduct. Basically, these are students making paid overseas visits, as part of regular curriculum time, to the United States, United Kingdom and Australia for workshops and for other learning opportunities. These bonds help build brands.

In short, unless a college really feels it has a brand that needs no introduction, I advise colleges to seek out quid-pro-quo relationships.

I founded SIS Group of Schools with a simple mission; “Quality education for different income levels”. We are in a strategic partnerships with private equity funds and the International Finance Corporation (World Bank). We have eight campuses in Indonesia. One in Korea and India. And soon one in Kazakhstan and Kenya. We are also building five more schools in Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world. We are the only school chain in these parts in a partnership with the IFC (World Bank). The halo effect in this partnerships, the audits around our high standards and good governance has, in turn, attracted opportunities for us to expand.

Quality education is not the monopoly of the upper income levels.

I believe in collaboration and building networks. This is the reason our budget schools are doing as well as the schools charging higher fees for the upper income levels. In my writings and conferences, I do not ease up on pushing for institutions to collaborate if we want to create graduates ready for the unpredictable 21st century. In the recent IFC (World Bank) conference in Cape Town, I urged private schools to collaborate with public schools. The philosophy is simple; Quality education is not the monopoly of the upper income levels.

Indeed, our brand speaks to the need to inspire our learners. It’s crucial in the challenging world our young people now face. We also have an initiative called PACE (Perseverance, Analytical Thinking, Collaboration / Communication and Entrepreneurism) which I insist must envelope everything we teach or share with our students. A great first step in looking at partnerships between schools, colleges and universities is to hold up stated values side by side and see if there is obvious alignment.

Looking ahead is no longer enough. In today's world we must look to aligned partners to form strong bonds based on a common understanding. The breadth and width of opportunities available to our young people depend on these noble and worthwhile endeavours.

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