- Purdue University will team up with United Kingdom-based Cranfield University to offer a series of graduate programs in military arts, science and technology.
- The first program will be a dual master's degree in defense engineering and technology offered in-person at the WestGate Academy, located near an innovation corridor in southwest Indiana. The program will include a focus on expeditionary warfare systems engineering and vehicle and weapon engineering.
- Both military personnel and civilians affiliated with the Department of Defense and its contractors pertaining to science, engineering and technologies will be able to enroll.
With this move, Purdue is supporting its work in a key area of interest for American higher education: international collaboration. Partnerships with educators abroad can range from simple exchange programs for students or scholars to joint research or program offerings.
Yet according to one ranking from London-based publication the Times Higher Education (THE), just one American university — the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — were ranked among the top 100 colleges in the world for "International Outlook," one of five ways it ranks universities.
Such collaboration, says one report based on interviews with leading international researchers, requires that universities plan such programs carefully and identify potential pitfalls upfront, such as cultural differences and the need for firm written agreements.
Attracting international students is increasingly a goal of U.S. colleges, along with providing educational opportunities in other countries, although that too has become more challenging.
Meanwhile, U.S.-based universities are boosting their competencies in STEM fields, particularly those with a security focus, in response to estimates there will be millions of unfilled jobs in the coming years in areas such as cybersecurity.
To bridge the gap, many colleges are increasing investment in such programs, including the University of Michigan, Virginia Tech and Augusta University. Data science is another area of focus, with the University of California, Berkeley joining a growing list of universities widening their footprint in the field with its recently announced plans to add an interdisciplinary Division of Data Science and Information.
To reach a national or even global audience, colleges are taking these programs online. For example, Georgia Tech launched an online master's in analytics last fall and will add one in cybersecurity in January. Likewise, the University of Pennsylvania recently announced it would also offer its popular master of computer and information technology program online — the Ivy League's first foray into an online-only degree.
The U.S. Armed Forces, too, has long had a stake in developing a large talent pool for the STEM fields. The Navy, for example, offers to pay for tuition, housing and food for those pursuing civil engineering or interested in going into a nuclear career.