Exploring the Dynamics of Charging Industry Partners to Collaborate in Experiential Learning Programs

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Written by Jordan Levy

Experiential learning programs have gained immense popularity in academic institutions, offering students real-world experiences while bridging the gap between academia and industry. One key aspect of such programs is the collaboration between academic institutions and industry partners. 


Some institutions who have built successful programs over many years are able to charge industry partners for these collaborations, while others choose to focus on free engagements that are designed to be mutually beneficial partnerships without financial obligations from the industry side. 


In this article, we’ll delve into the pros and cons of charging industry partners for projects in experiential learning programs and how a system like can enhance the success and scalability of such initiatives.

Pros of Charging Industry Partners:


1. Financial Sustainability: Charging industry partners can inject much-needed revenue streams into academic institutions, bolstering the financial sustainability of experiential learning programs and enabling them to expand their scope and reach.


2. Increased Industry Engagement: Financial commitments from industry partners often correlate with a higher level of engagement and dedication, ensuring that projects receive the necessary attention and resources to achieve meaningful outcomes.


3. Alignment of Incentives: Fee-based collaborations foster a sense of shared responsibility and accountability, aligning the interests of both academic institutions and industry partners towards the successful execution of projects.


4. Development of Premium Partner Relationships: Charging fees can attract industry partners who are willing to invest in premium talent and innovative projects, thereby enhancing the overall quality of collaborations and the educational programming that is being delivered to the students.

Cons of Charging Industry Partners:


1. Barriers to Entry: Charging industry partners may inadvertently erect barriers that deter smaller or emerging companies from participating, potentially limiting the volume and/or diversity of collaboration opportunities available to students.


2. Transactional Relationships: Fee-based collaborations run the risk of fostering transactional relationships, where the focus shifts towards monetary exchange rather than the cultivation of genuine partnerships grounded in shared values and objectives.


3. Unrealistic Expectations: Industry partners investing financially in collaborations harbor elevated expectations, which, if unmet, lead to dissatisfaction and strained relationships.


4. Partnership Selection Bias: Charging industry partners creates a perception of bias or favoritism towards those who can afford the fees, potentially calling into question the values of the institution and undermining the credibility and integrity of the partnership selection and collaboration processes.


5. Risk of Dependency: Academic institutions relying heavily on fee-based collaborations may become overly dependent on revenue from industry partners, potentially compromising the autonomy and academic integrity of the programs.


6. Competitive Disadvantage: Institutions charging fees may face competition from those offering similar collaborations for free, potentially losing out on opportunities to attract high-quality industry partners that may be interested in hiring students or providing other values to the institution. 


It’s worth noting that schools that are just starting out on these programs or engaging younger students might want to consider offering these collaborations for free. Inherently, these programs are unproven, and offering them for free enables schools to launch these programs, gain experience, and highlight positive outcomes that can be used to generate more traction on sponsorship revenue in the future. 


It’s also important to note that the cost to schools of running different types of programs with industry partners can vary significantly. For example, in engineering disciplines where students are using raw materials and machine equipment to fabricate samples and prototypes, there are more hard costs involved compared to other disciplines that might not require as much physical investment. 


Lastly, different types of organizations can afford different levels of sponsorship and engagement. It’s important to make these collaborations accessible to all types of organizations, including non-profits, startups, SMBs, and large corporations. This inclusivity ensures a diverse range of perspectives and opportunities for students while maximizing the impact of experiential learning programs.


Of course, whatever route you choose, CapSource can help you build sustainable, scalable, high-impact experiential learning programs that engage a wide array of industry partners.


We start by lowering barriers by making it easier for educators to create these programs and easier for industry organizations to feel comfortable saying yes! By facilitating collaborations through the CapSource platform, we help academic institutions attract, onboard, align with, and manage relationships with highly valuable industry partners.


We add value by providing educators and program leaders with streamlined management and oversight capabilities.’s platform simplifies the process of recruiting industry partners, managing programs, and tracking progress, saving time and resources for academic institutions.


We help improve programs by providing tools to objectively track and measure collaboration outcomes. With built-in tools for measuring outcomes, provides transparent and objective metrics for evaluating the success of collaborations, enhancing accountability, and continuous improvement.


We help scale programs by providing educators and program leaders with technology and automation tools. By enabling schools to scale their experiential learning programs efficiently, we help schools reach more students and industry partners more effectively while maintaining and constantly elevating quality standards and overall outcomes.


Ready to get started? Register today and explore our platform capabilities for free!


Please join the conversation:  We would love your input! What are your experiences, challenges, and goals? Join us over the next few weeks in this blog as we explore these points and share experiences and perspectives from participants or register today and begin exploring CapSource’s free version to get started.