How University Partners of Equifax Fuel Innovation and Top Talent

September 01, 2022

THERE'S NO BETTER WAY for a company to drive innovation and help build community than to connect with the next generation of forward-thinkers at colleges and universities. 

One of the ways many are making the connection is through mutually beneficial partnerships. Equifax has been innovating with academia for years, partnering with leading institutions to create industry-moving research, new insights and prepare future innovators. 

The Academic Partnership program began in 2016 with Georgia Tech in Atlanta to develop ideas for graduate research and co-innovation. In 2017, we partnered with Kennesaw State University as a charter member of their Board of Advisors and launched the Equifax Data Science Research Lab to apply emerging research to address global issues related to credit access, identity verification and fraud.


What are the key ways in which Equifax partners with academic institutions?

  1. Collaborative Industry Research: We collaborate with professors and staff researchers to create new insights and drive the industry forward 

  2. Student-Led Research: Using research projects leveraging Equifax data to help aspiring data scientists further in both their academic and professional careers

  3. Community Data Labs: We work with universities to implement collaborative data science labs to provide hands-on data education to support local needs and to speed research time for the academic and business communities

“Working directly with university professors and their students helps us bring a fresh perspective to business challenges while also exposing the university teams to unique data and cutting-edge technology that will give them an advantage as they move forward in their careers,” said Gail Wetzel, Equifax’s Vice President of Data & Analytics.

Bill Franks, Director at Kennesaw State University’s Center for Statistics and Analytical research, said he encourages his students, when they’re ready, to start working with companies to gain valuable real-world experience. 

“What’s been great in partnering with Equifax is that you have been able to provide us with meaningful problems that are relevant to your business, such as, “how do we make AI models explainable enough that they pass regulatory muster?’ Franks said. “That ties in great with our mission - we’re getting our students and faculty real-world experience; simultaneously, they're also getting to generate some publications and patent applications. From an academic perspective, it is very important.”

Equifax has seen the fruits of the academic relationship. The results help power the industry forward by combining their expertise with our differentiated data and analytics.

Faculty play an essential role in the collaboration. They provide guidance and direction to students, while also giving them an opportunity to apply their knowledge.


Graduates can earn more money in the data and analytics field

There is explosive growth in the fields like data and analytics stemming from universities. Graduates can expect to see higher jobs and higher salaries upon graduation.

Jobs in data science and advanced analytics were projected to grow by 28% over the last five years, with advertised average salaries of $80,200 – more than $8,700 higher than the figure for other bachelor's- and graduate-level jobs – according to a 2017 report from IBM, the Business-Higher Education Forum and Burning Glass Technologies, a job market analytics firm.

And the field of computer and information research scientists alone is expected to grow "much faster than average," by 16% between 2018 and 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It’s not just numbers, but there is real-life data that proves the importance of the academic-corporate pipeline. 

Since 2017, Equifax’s Academic Partnerships program has resulted in:

  • 30+ completed research projects

  • Four patents filed from university engagements

  • 10+ academic publications 

  • 130+ interns hired from Equifax-sponsored academic partners 

  • 25 full-time employees hired from Equifax academic partnerships 

It’s critical for companies to build strong connections today with the workforce and leaders of tomorrow. A reciprocal relationship – where students can get real-world experience and companies can drive innovation – will lead to a better and healthier industry.