“Universities are like supertankers – they’re very difficult to turn around”

Brosen_tugboats_tankerThese are the words of Gilly Salmon of Swinburne University, Australia. She is one of the proponents of public-private partnerships in education – which have helped her institution with the setting up of Swinburne Online. She sees the process as analogous to what has gone on in publishing and music in the internet age. “The records may be gone, but the companies are still there – but it partnerships”. The partnership, in the words of her colleague Ben McKenzie, is the “tugboat” that gets the university to turn in a more beneficial direction.


But growing a successful public-private partnership isn’t easy. For one thing, education is highly regulated; those seeking to set one up may fall foul of government caps on student admissions, for example. Luckily, in many countries the internet is a grey area and there are opportunities to slip around existing rules.

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