A new shape for business education?

18 March 2019

That business education is changing is not news, the question is how, for whom and why? A new report from the Chartered Association of Business Schools in the UK, (with research from CarringtonCrisp) provides some pointers.

One set of data sets out the scale of change predicted by Deans at UK business schools – 96% think it is quite or very likely that business schools product offering will have to evolve to meet the rapidly evolving skills required by successful businesses. Read a little further and there are some indications of what might be involved in that change – 80% believe growth will come from introducing products to meet lifelong learning demands while 69% suggest that online provision is likely to replace some face-to-face degrees entirely.

And some of this change is already happening. Half the business schools taking part in the study already offer blended provision with another 40% already planning to do so. Nearly 45% already offer or are planning to offer microcredentials. Over the next ten years, just under 40% believe that working with non-HE partners to deliver new learning products will offer a big opportunity for growth at their school.

Change is being driven by a number of factors but the report focuses on three particular issues – the impact of technology on learning and development, the entry of new providers into the market and the changing demands of business. Citing the McKinsey Global Institute report, ‘What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills and wages’, the study highlights the need for staff to spend more time managing people, applying expertise, and communicating with others, requiring more social and emotional skills and more advanced cognitive capabilities, such as logical reasoning and creativity.

Add in new business education provision from further education colleges in the UK market, the impact of the apprenticeship levy funding, the entry of ‘alternative’ providers, delivery through consulting and professional service firms and growing offers from online providers in the UK and around the world, and it is clear that the shape of UK business education is evolving rapidly.

It is perhaps no surprise that the study reveals that 61% of business school staff think it is quite or very likely that the market entry of new providers will lead to the closure or merger of existing business schools. While there is uncertainty, for UK business schools thinking about their future, the study suggests there are many opportunities to grow. However, that future may look very different from today’s business school.