The way we conduct business is changing.
Organisations are looking at new ways to work within the digital economy and so must our educational institutions.
Taking the lead in this space is Western Sydney University
. The university will later this year offer a new course within its School of Business
, called Start-up/Scale Up.
This course is an example of universities redesigning their degree programs to keep up with the pace of workplace disruption and is targeted at budding start up entrepreneurs and small to medium businesses (SME’s) seeking to build digital literacy and start up methodologies into their business ventures.
Why is the university putting time and resources into this?
“There is an urgency to this and we cannot afford to wait in developing these types of innovations,” says Western Sydney University Assistant Vice Chancellor Andy Marks.
Dr Marks says feedback from the business community about changing the way business is taught prompted the university to invest in this new course, but it is not the only reason.
“Governments have made very big commitments to knowledge job generation and industry transformation in Western Sydney so that means we need to change the way we do things.
“Changing the way we teach business reflects the way we do business. You either keep up and lead or you get left behind.”
The course aims to replicate the business environment and create new ways of working.
“Universities can’t afford to continue to be in this mindset that it should offer just the theoretical part of this. This change is occurring on a global scale and we want Western Sydney to plug directly into global supply chains,” says Dr Marks.
With the university opening three high-rise campuses in the space of five years - Parramatta, Liverpool and Bankstown, it is clear the university recognises it needs a presence where business is being done.
“We want to support clusters of knowledge jobs and industries and that means you have to change the way students learn and discover new business methodologies – you have to change the way you teach.”
Head of the Launch Pad Innovation Program Don Wright says SMEs don’t have a choice but to adapt to the digital economy.
“The speed of technology development is huge and for start-ups, they have to grow fast or fail.
“Business is changing and technology is one of the huge drivers. The gig economy is massively impacting the way we do business and we are now responding,” he says.
The course, designed by Mr Wright and industry partners, will provide an authentic, real life learning experience that infuses innovation with the process of learning.
“While you are undertaking your study, you are participating in creating a business at the same time. It is an unique learning experience.
“The students will be plugged into a huge network of investors, mentors, collaborators and people who can help them generate innovative business models. They will have a huge range of contacts and connections that will help them grow their business,” Mr Wright says.
“It will be about working effectively in global terms – you might be working with someone in the UK, someone in Canada or someone in India.”
Industry partners have collaborated with the university to provide the design of the course to ensure the content is cutting-edge.
Sydney Business Chamber, Western Sydney Director David Borger says it is great to see Western Sydney taking charge on this.
“Employers are looking for a much wider range of skill sets and experiences from up and coming employees than ever before. Universities are catching onto this.
“University incubators provide a strong connection between workplaces and the start up community.
"It is exciting that Western Sydney University is one of the first higher educational facilities in the country that will offer a course like this and we are confident it will result in outstanding outcomes for the business community,” Mr Borger says.