In 2017, the International Advertising Association (IAA) from Romania and the University of Bucharest, the University of Economic Studies in Bucharest, and the National University for Political Studies and Public Administration made a partnership that has as a main objective the increase of the students’ employability in the field of communication, advertising, and marketing.
The objectives of the collaboration are mainly the following:
1) Mentoring program for students – where the students from the colleges in the field of communication and marketing from the three universities have access to mentoring from industry professionals.
2) Studies – updating the teachers’ professional competences and Student Motivation Study, in order to increase the relevance of the content and the way of teaching in the fields of communication and marketing.
3) Offer the access to business case studies as examples for courses and seminars.
4) “AcademiAA Open Gates” Program – a “train the trainer” program where the teachers from universities have access to training sessions on communication, marketing and HR topics hosted by IAA member companies.
The partnership involves both the students and the professors. For example, students are encouraged to have internships in the communication agencies or in the departments of communication from companies that are members of IAA. Students attend practical courses taught by specialists offered by IAA, while professors benefit from organized study visits in companies (i.e. Procter &Gamble, McCann, ProTV). Members of IAA have moderated focus groups with students to know their expectations regarding the university, the labor market, and the collaboration between academia and IAA.
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?
Based on this partnership among the three member universities, there have been conducted focus groups with students regarding their expectations in what concerns the university and the labour market. The research findings were disseminated both at the managerial level and to the faculties in order to improve and update the content and the teaching method for the new generation of students that are part of the generation Y (born between 1980-2000) or / and Z (born between 1995-2000). Therefore, the impact was reflected at the level of content quality and on the teaching style. The visit of communication agencies or of marketing and communication departments from prestigious multinational companies was a good opportunity for professors to be in touch with the nowadays labour market demands. Moreover, the mentoring program for students was a remarkable opportunity for them to benefit from the experience of ones of the best specialists in communication and marketing from the Bucharest business environment.
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?
This partnership is a success due to the big interest of the universities, and to students' desire for being in contact with the business and with the best specialists in the fields where students want to work. For example, the mentoring program is the best opportunity for students to meet and build a professional network with the experts in communication and marketing, and for mentors is a good occasion to recruit the most appropriate graduates for their companies. Beyond these intrinsic motivations, this partnership is needed for the universities and the colleges to get the approval to have academic activity from the Romanian Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education.
What are the challenges, barriers or limiting factors encountered? How have they been addressed?
The most important constraint is the lack of time of all the persons involved in this partnership. Mentors are doing mentoring with students pro domo and teachers involve in this partnership besides teaching, research and he administrative activities that they already do. Another constraint is that some students are not very motivated to be involved in mentoring and internship programs as they consider that mentoring is time consuming and all the internships should be paid.
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?
There are no financial costs to cover the expenses of this partnership. Nevertheless, all the individuals involved in this collaboration between the universities and the labour market have to dedicate time and efforts to an activity that is unpaid. Therefore, the activity of the members of the institutions involved has to be part of the paid job where they are employed.
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?
This good practice is highly replicable due to the fact that both parts, the academia and the business industry, are very much interested in a more developed profesional higher education in order to deliver employable graduates. This kind of partnership can be developed in every kind of PHE because for every filed of study there are business associations, employer associations or at least individual companies motivated to contribute to the education of their future employees.
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?
Universities know better the labor market needs and based on this partnership, they can offer more practice and case studies that are very much connected with employers expectations regarding graduates’ skills. This case study is a good argument for the need of a common and systematic approach regarding the professional higher education and the labor market.
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 Romanian context of these partnerships is the economic development, the decrease of the size of the new cohorts of students and the fast technological development. Moreover, Romania faces a big wave of migration – about 3 million Romanians, especially young people, are living and working abroad, mainly in Italy and Spain. Therefore, the decrease of the birth rate, the increase of migration and the technological change put a huge pressure on education and employers to develop the professional higher education in order to increase the students’ employability.