Business schools failing to respond to demand for lifelong learning, say alumni

Business schools still aren’t providing enough opportunities for learning after graduation, according to a major new study of business school alumni, reports Colette Doyle

The latest Alumni Matters study by marketing consultancy Carrington Crisp, in association with the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), reveals that just under half (48 per cent) of business school alumni would like their former school to offer more opportunities for further learning. However, 51 per cent are currently unaware of what’s available to them.

The study asked 2,489 alumni from 82 countries about the nature of their relationship with their former school, how it could be improved, and what they could offer. 

It’s clear from the study that the majority (88 per cent) of alumni are proud of where they have studied and 43 per cent have recommended their school to prospective students. 

“Alumni already know and trust their former school, and that makes it an obvious place to turn to for reskilling and upskilling when people are changing careers, or want to remain employable. It’s clear that business schools are missing a trick when it comes to engaging this market”, commented the author of the study and Carrington Crisp co-founder Andrew Crisp.

When asked about the type of support they would like to see, alumni who would like access to further learning want their school to create lifelong learning opportunities (70 per cent). There is a strong preference for short-course, non-degree executive education (57 per cent). New forms of qualifications are also popular, with 21 per cent keen on digital badges and 18 per cent interested in micro-credentials.

There is a strong desire for help with starting and investing in new businesses, with almost one in four (24 per cent) wanting start-up advice and support. Among these potential entrepreneurs, just over half (53 per cent) are thinking of starting a business and are seeking advice, while just over one-third (35 per cent) are seeking opportunities to invest in new businesses. 

Access to careers support and job opportunities also ranked highly, with some alumni even being willing to pay a small fee for access to career services:

·      Availability of jobs board (75 per cent)

·      Easier access to career services (65 per cent)

·      Access to professional coaching services (51 per cent)

·      Mentorship (38 per cent) 

·      Paying a small fee for career services (24 per cent).

As might be expected, alumni are also keen to make the most of networking opportunities afforded by their school. Most want to give back: 65 per cent would consider student mentoring and 55 per cent might provide internships/projects/paid work experience for current students.

“Lifelong learning amongst alumni is a huge opportunity for business schools. There are two key steps schools need to take. First, they must develop relevant learning opportunities for alumni. Second, they need to communicate clearly with alumni about the ways they can help them with their ongoing development”, concluded Crisp.

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