The Digital Campus

The Digital Campus

Why Universities Need to Be Run Like Startups

Golden Age of Universities is OverIt’s a well documented fact that higher education is being disrupted by new technologies, new players, and changing economic and social context.

Consider the following:

  • Student debt is at an all time high in the U.S. and that ⅔ of students leave with debt.
  • Massive Open Online Courses (Moocs) are changing the face of higher education
  • Moocs are more cost-effective than the traditional college model
  • Moocs will likely become increasingly accepted as legitimate course credit in the coming years

If universities’ value isn’t in delivering content, what is the advantage of the traditional classroom model?

There’s something unique that happens in your campus: university culture cannot be replicated online. Universities that prepare students for a creative economy prioritize the same three things that drive successful startup cultures:


  1. Physical proximity is important: Silicon Valley wouldn’t have risen to preeminence without Stanford and Berkeley.
  2. Cultural connection that universities allow bring entrepreneurial processes.

Shared resources:

  1. Education and innovation initiatives minimize expenses by pooling resources: Co-working spaces, Labs, Prototyping facilities.
  2. Don’t tie use of facilities to intellectual property policies.

Nurturing communities:

  1. Websites vs campus communities: It is difficult to build relationships online.
  2. Breaking down the silos of disciplines in the traditional university is key: Entrepreneurship students working with engineers; designers working with computer information system majors.


There are many areas that universities have the advantage in. They just have to embrace them and act or risk becoming obsolete!


Universities Need to Act Like Startups

Author: Florencia Prada

Florencia Prada is the Head of Digital Marketing at swissnex San Francisco. While she loves all things tech, she tries hard not to get carried away by shiny objects and new ideas that are all too pervasive in Silicon Valley.

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