A Better Model to Support University Collaborations

Supporting university-to-university collaborations is not easy. Many partners are sceptical that the decisions made, or actions taken are biased towards or against themselves. And this is a natural occurrence. And, even if there was or is no bias, it can be tough to get rid of perceptions. So I’m proposing an alternate approach. A pool of project managers. Have a read. I’d love to know you thoughts.

One of the things that I’m often find myself doing is helping university collaborative initiatives. So, I’ve helped a lot over the years, and probably been doing so since at least 2014. Maybe even earlier than that. I’ve learned a lot about building university to university partnerships, and if you’re interested in that kind of stuff, I’ve made a video, and a blog about that.

If you just search my website for that but what I wanted to talk about today was how you might run a partnership where you don’t necessarily want to use an independent 3rd party like me or another consulting firm. You want to keep the support in-house. There are lots of reasons you might do that. It might be price. It might be access. It might be keeping the knowledge inside rather than letting it you know, go outside as it were, and there are advantages to as well. You can potentially not have to have so much external infrastructure.

So, what have I seen so far. So, most of the time, I’ve seen 3rd party support. So, like I said, myself helping other universities and I’m independent of universities, and that works really well because it can help reduce the perception of bias. It can help reduce actual bias, and because of my connections outside universities there’s probably some unique or useful information that I might bring to the collaboration that might not otherwise be there if it was supported by an in-house person, a person based at one university. That’s you know, where the differences might be. But I was thinking about what another different model might be. One that would help keep costs low that would help keep information within the university system rather than spread between several, but also one that might reduce the impact of bias.

So, what I came up with was this idea of having a pool of project managers. So, each university would contribute to the pool, not money but an actual person. Head count to the pool or more to the point full-time equivalent account. And I think the starting point would be relatively easy if every university committed one full-time equivalent to the pool. Then if you, and another university came up with an idea for a project, you’d be able to access some of that FTE in the pool for your project. The idea would be that your two universities that their FTE won’t be allocated to them. It will be allocated to someone else, and you’ll get someone else’s allocation. So, the ideas, and the perceptions of bias will be lessened. Perhaps, even removed altogether but the cost, and the information will all remain still within the university. So that might be a useful way of going about things. So, if you’re involved in managing or maintaining university to university collaborations, and it could be centers of excellence, it could be collaborative research centers or it could be just an initiative focused on a topic. If you think that might work for you, let me know. I’d love to hear whether you think a pool of project officers might be a better way to go than trying to find support from inside one university, and potentially having biases.

Let me know how you go.