A demand from industry for skilled SAP people has led Unitec to form a strategic alliance with the vendor, in what it hopes will be the first of many future deals.
The arrangement, worth more than $3 million, is part of SAP's Sapient College University Programme, an international initiative to give students exposure to enterprise-wide information systems. Under the deal, the enterprise resource planning software vendor provides Unitec with its R/3 software free, and 100 "person days" of free training in the use of the software for academic staff, as well as free installation, maintenance, upgrades and support. Unitec's faculty of business will incorporate R/3 into many of its business courses.
Faculty dean Professor Gael McDonald says Unitec will provide a starting point for students. "They'll have a fairly good knowledge base … obviously we're not training SAP consultants up. It will be part of their whole learning process so they're exposed to what is a current software proving to be popular internationally."
Unitec was the only tertiary institution in New Zealand to be selected for the programme.
McDonald says the faculty's department of information systems and computing has an advisory committee made up of industry representatives, which indicated there was an increasing demand for SAP-trained graduates. "SAP consultants are picked up pretty rapidly. You only have to have a half interest in IT to realise that."
She says the demand has been increasing, as the number of SAP installations have increased. "Its growth has been quite phenomenal in the market."
McDonald says it's not the first strategic relationship Unitec has had, but it is the first of its size. For example, it provides training for Air New Zealand's IT staff. She hopes the SAP deal will be the first of many similar deals in future.
SAP New Zealand sales manager Tony Armfield says the decision to select Unitec was made in consultation with SAP's customers and partners, who expressed a strong preference for the institution. It was selected due to its established technology and industry focus, and the progressive nature of its business school. The university partnership programme was started to allow SAP, its customers and partners to recruit graduates who have had some exposure to R/3 before entering the workforce.
By the end of this year, Asi-Pacific universities will have exposed more than 1300 students to R/3, while worldwide the figure is more than 8000. There are more than 140 active university partners worldwide.