Creating commitment for cooperation with the academic world: Orange Educational Program for University Politehnica of Bucharest

Orange Educational Program for University of Politehnica Bucharest (UPB) is a partnership aimed at the professional education of students, future IT and telecommunication engineers. It offers three types of educational packages, ranging from one year scholarships to short term scholarships covering the period of summer internships (2 months) or the period for conducting guided research within the company for completing the graduation project (4 months). It is mainly addressed to students in the two departments: Telecommunications Technologies and Systems (TST) and Telecommunications Networks and Software (TNS), but is open to all students of the Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technology.

For instance, in the university year 2018-2019, the program offers a total of 49 scholarships, organized in three educational packages: the first package (10 positions) comprises a 200Euro/month scholarship covering the whole year, a place for the summer internship within Orange’s relevant departments, participation the relevant training and attestation programs within the company, mentoring and support for realization of the BA thesis within Orange Romania; the second package (20 positions) comprises a three-month scholarship in amount of  10 Euro/month, a place for the summer internship within Orange’s relevant departments, participation in the relevant training and attestation programs within the company and support for realization of the BA thesis with Orange Romania; the third package (19 positions) assures the summer internship in a relevant department within the company, participation in a selection of courses and attestations within Orange, and potential support for realization of the BA thesis within the company’s projects. In addition, all three categories are possible candidates for hiring within the company, the first one being considered priority. The selection of applicants for all three packages is made jointly by UPB and Orange and the courses are held at the Orange Training Center.

The Training Center, founded in 2007 within the Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technology, offers a wide range of courses delivered by professionals from Orange and partner companies (Nokia, HUAWEI, ANCOM, Ericsson, etc). Advanced telecommunications technologies, Network Planning and network resources management, Cybersecurity, IT&C New Trends are some of the topics of the specialized courses. The curricula also includes Soft skills training and notions of the Economics of the telecom market which offer students a more comprehensive approach for the world of work. The Center includes a library and a laboratory equipped for applied research.

More than 300 students have graduated the program since it started and a high proportion were subsequently hired by Orange or partner companies. All graduates were rapidly integrated on the labor market within the field of professional specialization.

The case stands out through several characteristics: the learning environment created is adapted both to the requirements of the private companies involved and to the exigences of UPB’s educational standards; the environment thus created is able to facilitate integration of students in the  world of work and direct their academic interests towards areas of applied research; the program is a paradigmatic example of cooperation between educational actors and stakeholders and illustrates the advantages of a flexible and personalized approach to PHE, broadly conceived; last but not least, the stimulation of academic excellence through this partnership.

This partnership brings clear advantages to both parties involved: UPB maintains a permanent partnership with one of the main actors on the telecom industry, provides an appealing scholarship  program for its students and increases their chances of employability. Through this partnership, Orange has access to a pool of potential employees that are selected and further trained according to their needs, they are strengthening their employer’s brand and maintains a relevant contact with the relevant academic fields. Both parties extend this partnership, on a case-by-case basis, in forms of advanced collaboration for research and development.

 


More Information

Impact

What was the challenge intended to be addressed? Why? What did work well? What did not work well? What have been the main achievements? How did you evaluate its success? What has been the change brought by this good practice?

The program is very successful in combining a learning environment that links the particular requirements of an important actor in the world of work with academic excellence and applied research in communication technology. The longevity of the program (initiated in 1998, restructured in the form of the actual partnership in 2007) is itself a proof of its success. The main achievements consist of better integration of students in the world of work but also adaptation of curricular design by constant dialogue between the two parties involved.

Success Factors

What are the enabling conditions (e.g. institutional, economic, social/cultural, regulatory) that needed to be in place or played a facilitating role for the good practice to be successful?

One of the enabling conditions of the success of the program is the highly-specialized field where the two actors meet (cutting-edge technology in telecommunications). Good institutional dialogue and strategic integration of the program in the HR strategy of the company is another enabling condition.

Constraints

What are the challenges, barriers or limiting factors encountered? How have they been addressed?

The main constraints are of logistic nature, and as such, they can be overcome through commitment and close cooperation.

Feasibility & Sustainability

What are the elements that need to be put into place for the good practice to be sustainable (institutionally, socially, economically, etc.)? If applicable, indicate the total costs incurred for the implementation of the practice. What are the benefits compared to total costs?

Institutionally, the sustainability of the program is granted by the commitment of UPB to ensure relevant programs for its students (internships but also research programs) and by Orange's integration of HR policies in its strategic management.

Replicability & Upscaling

What are the possibilities of extending the good practice more widely? What are the conditions that need to be in place for the good practice to be successfully replicated in a similar context? What are the steps that should be taken/respected to ensure that the good practice is replicated / up-scaled, but adapted to the new context?

The upscaling of the project depends mainly on the strategic decisions of the main private actor involved (Orange Romania). Although a success story, the case cannot be strictly replicated, due to the peculiarity of the context. But adaptations of this practice to different contexts is possible. The institutional prerequisites (i.e. legal framework) for such extrapolations can be considered granted.

Lessons learned

What would have facilitated an earlier and/or bigger impact? What are the key features that should be kept in mind if this would have to be implemented again? What would you do differently if you could go back in time? What could have been done better?

By committing to cooperate with the academic world, Orange Educational Program is contributing to setting professional educational standards for the field of telecommunications. Through the program, students have access to the most up-to-date technologies and interact with professionals in the field of telecommunications. The program is offering students practice-based learning, hand-on experience and the possibility to put into practice research ideas, facilitating a smooth transition from learning to work.
The program is also flexible. It evolved from year to year, adapting the educational offer to the needs of the students. For example, the specialized courses offered by the Training Center were initially scheduled during the 4th year of study. Since the final year of study is very busy for students, starting with last year, the courses are scheduled during the summer internship period, in a more condensed manner, during the 8 weeks of practice. The outcome consists in a better correlation between theoretical information and its practical application.
Also, to further excellence in the field, the company offers prizes for the best graduation projects.
This adaptability ensures that the educational program is capable of responding to changes in the field of education and evolution of the industry.
The active involvement of Orange, one of the leaders in Telecommunications industry in Romania and worldwide, in the personalization of a learning environment directed towards the requirement of the world of work, the quality of the outcomes and the attractiveness of the educational program, recommend it as an example of best practice for professional higher education.

Context

Please provide some information about the context and initial situation that can help in fully understanding the action (e.g. information about the national system, applying regulations, etc.)

The need for training information and communication technologies professionals is high at European level. It is estimated the deficit is set to increase to 500.000 professionals by 2020. (https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/digital-skills-jobs-coalition). It is in this context that the partnership presented here represents a best-practice case.