An evaluation of the impact of higher education-business partnerships on technology-supported education reform
Nzama, Bongi Noreen Patricia
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This study examined the relationship that exists between the processes that are employed when establishing and implementing higher education-business partnerships and the impact that these partnerships have on technology-supported education reform. The concept of technology-supported reform refers to educational initiatives that are designed to generate technological innovations and skills as the key outcomes of the reform process. While earlier studies (Antelo & Henderson, 1990; Powers & Powers; 1988; Meister, 1998) showed links between the implementation of the core partnership processes and the eflectiveness of partnerships, there was insufficient evidence in the literature to support the concept that higher education-business partnerships have an impact on higher education reform. Consequently, investigating the relationships between the core processes that lead to effective partnerships and those that contribute to education reform was a primary goal of this study. The case study method was selected as the method of evaluation. Four cases that represent different contextual and operational environments were selected for the purpose of impact evaluation. A benchmarking framework was applied to the evaluation so that the investigation was consistent. The prediction was that each participating case would yield similar outcomes or replications with regard to the five theoretical assumptions, and the key research questions that bounded this study. Such replications would provide evidence to support a view held by South Africa's Ministry of Education (White Paper on Education 3, 1997), that business-education partnerships are a strategic policy approach for improving educational outcomes. This study assessed the extent to which the four cases addressed South Africa's post-apartheid educational transformation needs and challenges. Two sets of findings emerged: findings related to partnerships, and findings related to education reform. The main finding relating to partnership was that successful higher educationbusiness partnerships engaged key processes and procedures for planning, implementing, and evaluating their work. A key finding related to education reform was that higher education-business partnerships make an impact on education reform. The most significant areas of impact were: teaching and learning, human resources development, technology transfer and research. The study concluded by developing a proposed benchmarking framework which can be used to plan, implement and evaluate higher education-business partnerships.
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