As the state of the UK’s education system moves further and further into the public eye, those that offer a vocational alternative to traditional academia move in alongside it. With more opportunities coming around for those that prefer a hands-on approach, often in the form of apprenticeship schemes, corporate universities have taken off, becoming more and more popular as time goes by.
The rise in popularity for corporate universities is not, however, simply a consequence of the UK’s focus on education and the avenues one must take to pursue a particular career. The UK, as its industry grows exponentially, has also begun to put focus on corporate social responsibility, where corporations can no longer afford to be amoral, but must take on some responsibility for their local community. Santander, being an international corporation, for instance, have invested €1.5 billion in global outreach in the form of scholarships, mentorship schemes, mobility grants, special support and non-academic awards. This is becoming more of a precedent for other corporations as well, with more and more following in Santander’s footsteps.
The rise of corporate universities does not stop at its apprenticeship schemes however, as McDonald’s, possessing its famous Hamburger University, has received college credit recommendations from the American Council on Education (ACE), the United States’ unifying body for higher education. This naturally means that plenty of corporate universities are not only universities by name, but are genuinely recognised as institutions of higher education.
Naturally, when one attends an institution of higher education, no matter its place or prestige, no matter the course or time it has taken, one expects to have a certain degree of pride and accomplishment when their time it is concluded. To encapsulate this pride, this feeling of accomplishment, the majority of these corporations, including McDonald’s, Santander, Barclays et al, have chosen to go down the traditional institutional route and now host graduation ceremonies for students that have accomplished their particular course. These are often complete with all the trimmings; gown, hood, cap and scroll.
It truly is a fantastic feeling to be part of one of these prestigious ceremonies, and should be shared with those that have taken a less academic route into their career of choice. There are many paths up the mountain, and one shouldn’t necessarily be considered more ‘elite’ than the others. To share the feeling of pride and accomplishment felt by those that have attended even the most prestigious universities, goes further than social responsibility, and gives those that may have struggled to pursue a career through a red brick university, a chance to experience something similar. A more holistic approach to vocational careers. And we are all for it.