One giant leap for business schools

15 October 2020

Co-founder Andrew Crisp invites you to help shape CarringtonCrisp's next study on Executive and Lifelong Learning, coming January 2021.


Historically, for most students business education has meant an undergraduate degree and perhaps a professional qualification in accountancy or similar. For some, there has been progression to a Masters degree and maybe an MBA, with a few moving on to DBAs or to PhDs for academic careers. Small numbers have also had opportunities to take executive programmes, but the focus of many business schools has largely been on their undergraduate and Masters students. All this is about to change as highlighted in my recent article for AACSB.

Demand, often driven by technological change, is growing the need for staff to upskill and reskill throughout their careers, and those careers are lasting longer as people live longer and in some countries retirement benefits are delayed.

Technology is also shifting the way people learn, making it possible to study at a distance from an institution and on a just-in-time basis, taking short courses as and when they are required with quick application in the workplace.

Even those business schools with long standing involvement in executive education may find it difficult to get to grips with these new markets. The complexity of multiple start dates, of managing people who want to earn parts of qualifications and then stitch them together to form a degree and the risks associated with attaching the name of an institution to new types of qualifications are just some of the considerations facing business schools.

However, the risks of not changing are potentially greater. Competition for traditional students will only intensify; MOOC-based degrees already have more than 10,000 enrolled students. In the UK, an engineering institution set up by Dyson, the household products company, has recently been granted degree-awarding powers. Historic sources of income for traditional higher education providers can not be guaranteed as before.

So what is the future for non-degree learning in business schools? Early in 2021, CarringtonCrisp will rerun their Executive Education Futures study, but go beyond its traditional remit and examine the wider market for reskilling and upskilling, for short non-degree courses and online education. To make sure the study is as valuable as possible to business schools, we want your input now to guarantee the right focus in the interviews, surveys and desk research that we conduct.

If you have any thoughts or want to discuss the study in more detail, and how your school might be involved, just drop us a line at


Subscribe to our newsletter