As a result of changing conditions of funding, emanating in a sense of crisis about viability and the need to find new sources of revenue, many universities in Australia and elsewhere are moving into new areas of application in novel partnerships with corporate organizations, to deliver 'work-based learning'. But what may promise to resolve a fiscal crisis sometimes can generate practices which prove deeply unsettling for the context in which they are embedded. In this article we explore the extent to which new modes of work-based learning represent a legitimation crisis for universities as well as exploring their implications for the corporate partners. Data from an ongoing study of such a partnership between the ABC Co, a global financial industry firm, and a large university dedicated to forging practice-based relationships with industry, are drawn on. The conclusions that we reach suggest that the reality of the new knowledge age of work-based learning is, perhaps, rather more a question of impression management, jointly negotiated on both sides, than a brave new world.