- InStride — the employer-focused for-profit venture between Arizona State University and a private equity partner that officially launched earlier this month — announced it has brought in a new university partner to offer courses.
- UNSW Sydney is the first international university to join with InStride and the second one, after Arizona State, to offer educational programming through the network. InStride expects to add more university partnerships in the U.S., Asia, Europe and Latin America, according to its website.
- The UNSW Sydney partnership gives InStride international reach and helps the public-benefit corporation realize its mission "to serve as the key link between universities and employers," InStride CEO Vivek Sharma said in a statement.
News of InStride's creation was first reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education last month. Although details on how InStride will work with its employer and university partners remain sparse, its existence signals the potential market for workforce development and partnerships between higher ed institutions and employers.
The venture — majority owned by the Rise Fund, which is managed by private equity firm TPG — owes its genesis partly to Arizona State's partnership with Starbucks to offer tuition-free degrees to qualifying employees of the coffee chain. That arrangement, and other similar ones with major companies, showed Arizona State the value of large-scale educational partnerships with employers as well as the need for a dedicated organization to forge and shepherd those relationships.
As InStride eyes the global market, Australia is a good place to start as tech companies expand their presence in the country, and governments and employers look to develop a workforce for them. That context prompted tech boot camp provider Trilogy (recently acquired by online program manager 2U) to expand in Australia, EdSurge reported earlier this year.
Australian colleges are also looking abroad for growth. The country educates nearly 500,000 international students, which could increase to up to 1 million by 2025, according to Barron's. In that effort, the country benefits in part from its easier visa processing as well as its proximity to and shared time zone with key Asian countries, the publication notes.
Less clear at the moment is why Arizona State sought to increase its reach with employers through a for-profit venture, one in which it does not hold controlling ownership. In some respects, InStride resembles an OPM, which typically applies a skill set in marketing, technology and program management across numerous partners. (It also resembles many OPMs in its revenue-share model with university partners.)
But some have criticized the OPM model for what they see as funneling revenue away from public and private nonprofit colleges into for-profit entities.
Describing its mission, Arizona State President Michael Crow said in a promotional video, "What we need with InStride is this entity who knows how to sit with a company and design what a company needs to enhance its corporate performance in a way where that company and the people in it can be more successful — (to) acquire the assets from a range of universities because no one university will have all of the assets."