18 August, 2023
Why businesses are investing in education
Employee Spotlight: Alex Hunt

Maris Managing Director, Alex Hunt, talks about how universities are attracting students with a new approach to learning.

I did aeronautical engineering at university and there is a lot of theory but there’s also a lot of practical work involved in that degree. How a plane gets put together can be a powerfully engaging experience, and it’s that engagement that is really shaping the universities at the forefront of their respective fields.

Environments for life

We talk a lot about this ability for students to interact with one another, collaborate, and cross pollinate their learning from different courses while they’re at university, and of course this ability is integral as a skill in the workplace as well.

What we’re seeing develop in universities that are really focused on attracting students is an approach that’s more representative of real-life scenarios, that is facilitated by environments that enable organic, serendipitous interactions.

Twenty years ago, if you studied geography, you probably only met geography students – now universities are making it easier to interact with peers across different disciplines because it’s academically beneficial but it’s also important for social wellbeing.

Going beyond course context

We’ve recently been working with an arts university who wanted to develop a business school.

They explained that they wanted the business school to focus on sectors associated with what they taught – for example, making courses like fashion not purely about design, but also about the practical side of making that career commercially viable. They wanted their future designers to know how they could then take their skills and make a business from them.

It’s that kind of thinking – going above and beyond the standard course context – that students are looking for.

Businesses are fully aware of the value of nurturing new talent as well, and for a long time. For example, Manchester Metropolitan University has their prestigious Engineering Scholarship programme in partnership with Formula 1, and Cambridge Science Park has multiple buildings funded in collaboration with different electronics and pharmaceutical giants. Businesses know the value of finding the best talent, nurturing it in incubator scenarios, and allowing those individuals to grow wings by giving them the best support and guidance.

Crucially, industry needs cutting edge research capabilities and new ways of thinking more than anything as a way of succession planning. Many universities have fantastic research capabilities, and they harbour the best talent from a very young age – the people who are the future of industry, technology, medicine and so forth.

Creating a pipeline of talent is essential, and for students it’s also exciting to see where their education might take them and seeing it the results when it’s applied. Imagine how exciting it would it be if you were doing a biochemistry degree and the likes of GSK plc were supporting the process?

Space to learn

Higher education in the UK is some of the best in the world and there’s a reason people want to come here to have a British degree. It’s because that mark of quality and teaching capability opens the door to an international market.

Marrying the UK’s teaching skillset with the right facilities for the future of industry is a powerful combination and the literal spaces in which that alchemy comes together are vital.

See how London South Bank University is transforming the learning experience

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