More colleges are partnering with boot camps to tap demand for short-term programs

by Jeremy

Coding boot camps have long been viewed as the antithesis of traditional higher education. They focus more heavily on technical training. Their programs usually last weeks instead of years. And they are mostly free from the heavy regulation that permeates the rest of the sector.  But recently, more of them have been joining forces with colleges and universities. This month, for instance, Flatiron School announced it is working with the University of Cambridge in the U.K. to launch a 10-week data science program through the college’s continuing education department.  It’s one of several coding schools looking to collaborate more with colleges. Course Report, a coding boot camp review site, added 138 schools last year to its directory, said Liz Eggleston, its co-founder and editor. Around one-third were offered through universities.


“That’s not trivial,” Eggleston said.

Other data also points to a growing trend. Universities worldwide forged at least 73 partnerships with boot camps from January through September of last year, according to findings from market research firm HolonIQ. That’s up from 49 in all of 2019.  These partnerships vary. While boot camp providers handle most of the instruction in some, in others, the universities play a more significant role in crafting the curriculum.

For coding schools, these arrangements lend their programs credibility and familiarity from well-known college brands. Universities, meanwhile, benefit from a new revenue stream and partners that can launch and modify programs faster than they could on their own.  The tech stack is changing so quickly, (and) these kinds of partnerships give the university a chance to pivot soon,” said Rick Hefner, program director at the California Institute of Technology’s Center for Technology and Management Education, which recently launched a cybersecurity boot camp with an outside partner.

The coronavirus pandemic may accelerate the trend. Analysts said that many laid-off workers are looking to gain new skills, and boot camps and other short-term programs may provide a quicker way to earn a credential than enrolling in a degree program. Indeed, some boot camp providers told Higher Ed Dive they are seeing rising student interest in their programs, which they credit in part to the economic fallout from the health crisis.

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