5 key business school trends you need to be thinking about


By Tim Landucci

Over the last 18 months we’ve seen some major shifts in the market, with an impact that will reverberate for many years to come. In turn, audiences have changed and evolved with it. So, just what sort of trends can we expect? And how should our strategic outlook and priorities adapt to them?

Like many things, the market has been hit hard by the pandemic – and the business school market is no different. As a result, international recruitment has become more competitive. Big strides in online learning and improvements to systems, websites and learning platforms, along with AI integrations – have propelled some institutions forward.

Meanwhile, the threat of traditional competitors has come into sharp focus alongside the rapid emergence of new entrants, disruptors, and non-traditional competitors. In addition, market forces like Brexit, COVID-19, societal change and technology advancement have a created a perfect storm of challenge for the sector.

In setting out to understand the key drivers of marketing changes, we have identified 5 key trends, each with a unique set of risks and opportunities.

1. Positive signs ahead?
Despite the challenging market context, there are signs of recovery, progress and positivity emerging. Recent research has highlighted that many business schools are anticipating growth in 2021/22 and L&D professionals are forecasting increased investment in people development.

2. Flexible Academic Models (FAMs)
More and more business schools are exploring and developing FAMs to future proof their learning provisions and strategic approach. These combine standard industry teaching practices with technology, to provide more flexible, hybrid academic models which are designed to offer excellent learning opportunities regardless of location. In particular, this is a focus for those developing lifelong learning provision.

3. Online Distance Learning
Provisions and investment of time and money in online distance learning is vital. The business schools that have quality provision, partnership variation and capacity, will have the infrastructure and culture to thrive in the future.

4. Technology
Investment in technology, including platforms websites and integrations through internal investment, have enabled business schools to stay ahead of the curve. Many are taking UX first approach and enhancing learning and event platforms, websites, CRM and automation.

5. Portfolio
The world has changed, and just like post-2007/8, business school provision needs to change to reflect market demand. Students and businesses are motivated and looking for options that reflect the current times. These should include a review of provisions, post-pandemic and societal themes such as resilience, responsible leadership, diversity and inclusion and a renewed focus on soft-skills and greater variety and flexibility in terms of format.

We can see a great deal of change in the market which presents opportunity and challenge for business schools. The big questions for most is where to prioritise.