One of the barriers that can often discourage practitioners from cooperating with universities is the formalistic approach of the latter. What the business is used to do ad hoc often takes months at the higher education institutions (HEIs). There, the decision making process might take a while and the HEIs employees are accustomed to planning the activities well in advance. From the other side, the need to participate in curriculum co-creation and navigate through the bureaucratic procedures inherent to HEIs might discourage the practitioners to invest their time and effort as well. Similarly, the need for well-defined supervision and quality assurance in academia at times can collide with a more flexible approach in the practical world.
One Polish example that answers the aforementioned challenges and offers solutions to allow smooth cooperation of practitioners with the university stakeholders through a strong combination of didactic and academic experience with hands-on knowledge is the Modern Business Management Initiative, or the MBM Programme.
The MBM Programme
The MBM Programme was initiated by the Polish Bank Association ZBP, and is now supported by Biuro Informacji Kredytowej (Credit Information Bureau) and Biuro Informacji Gospodarczej InfoMonitor (Economic Information Bureau InfoMonitor). With its mission to raise the level of practical knowledge of the financial market, entrepreneurship and business management, the programme targets the faculty and the students – the future managers and company owners. So far, it has been implemented in 122 Polish universities and academies, covering entire Poland.
MBM assumes formal duties related to curriculum co-design, knowledge exchange between the practitioners and academics through bi-lateral lecture series, participation in business and academic conferences, training courses and e-learning programmes, and the evaluation of the courses. The knowledge transfer between the experts from the two fields is closely related to the curriculum; selection of the subject depends on the interest of students, professional orientation of the academics involved, and the universities’ priorities.
How does it work?
The programmes orientation is business management, entrepreneurship and financial education. Up –to-date, the thematic modules that the programme is built around are “Financial Risk Management”, “Long-Term Saving and Investments”, “E-Economy Tools”, “E-Economy and Cybersecurity”, “New Dimensions of Cooperative Banking”.
The programme is implemented in the following way: the lectures are prepared in cooperation with the trainer and coordinator of the programme in the HEIs. That allows to meet the formal requirements of the university and relieve the coach from formal duties. The university reports to the MBM and the parties set the date of the lecture and its subject matter.
Important to note, that the MBM trainers are people in practice working with the financial market, who can provide student with valuable practical input during regular classes. Those are mostly employees of banks, business information offices, and Polish Social Insurance Institution. The programme is monitored by Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
The aim of the program is to popularize economic knowledge and entrepreneurship among students. MBM is not limited to the universities with business orientation, it is also open to HEIs with a social sciences or technical profiles, where entrepreneurship education is at times missing, yet is not less needed. Starting a business can be a way for the students and graduates to increase their employement opportunities upon completion of their studies, and respond to the market need. In that respect, MBM has created a useful tool for teaching the students’ about the practical aspects financial market and the peculiarities of establishing and running a business. So far, more than 140 000 have benefitted from the programme.
Similarly, the universities benefit from participating in MBM by expanding their access to a tested product and an experienced trainer – a qualified and experienced practitioner. For those universities, that do not specialise in management and entrepreneurship education, it is a vital solution to the potential lack of academic staff specialising in the topic. Over 1300 lectures and 200 conferences have been organised since the commencement of the programme.
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