Our Latest Report | Online changes everything, especially the importance of brand

30 July 2021

Our co-Founder Andrew Crisp delves into brand reputation, and what it means for lifelong and executive education providers. 


For many of those working, study at a leading business school on the other side of the world was never a possibility, even if they could afford the fees, travel and accommodation, they couldn’t consider the idea of giving up their job for a year or more. Online study makes geography less important, but brand much more so.

Just over six out of ten (62%) agree it is important that any future learning they undertake is with a provider with an international brand reputation, while almost two-thirds (65%) agree that location of their provider will become less important as online provision becomes more sophisticated. Any why is it that brand reputation becomes key?

In part, it’s because having still made the investment in fees, an individual wants to make sure that whatever qualification is on their CV, it will be portable to a future employer. Of course, an MBA or a Masters might be easily understood, but an employer may be less clear about a microcredential, digital badge or a part completed stackable degree. Yet, if the qualification comes from a well-known international business school, an employer is much more likely to be open to a candidate with a new type of qualification.

And that attitude among employers is already clear in the data from ‘The future of lifelong and executive education’. Two-thirds of employers (67%) agree that location of a learning provider will become less important as online provision becomes more sophisticated. Three quarters (74%) of employers will, or already do, recognise qualifications gained online in the same way as those completed in a traditional face-to-face setting.

Brand reputation is also key for individuals choosing a provider for their learning. Today the choice isn’t just a traditional business school or university, but there are a host of new providers, sometimes collaborating with higher education and sometimes striking out on their own, leveraging technology to deliver learning. Already, LinkedIn Learning has been used by around 1 in 5 of learners taking part in ‘The future of lifelong and executive education’ study, while similar numbers would consider a host of other providers such as FutureLearn, Coursera, 2U and General Assembly.

Business schools need to know what their brand is all about. Employers are seeking co-creation of content, short, inexpensive programmes that deliver relevant skills for employees and flexible programmes that meet the requirements of lifelong learning. Learners want digital delivery, accelerated career prospects and high rankings from business schools. And there is one thing that both employers and learners also agree on – they want business schools to be clear about how their offer positively impacts wider society, not just business and industry.

Find out more about the power of a study brand for employers and learners, download a free copy of ‘The future of lifelong and executive education’ report on our website.

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