The power of more learning to drive alumni engagement
30 November 2022
Andrew Crisp draws on the latest Alumni Matters report findings to examine how schools need to evolve alumni relationships to build better outcomes for schools and alumni.
What do alumni want? Ask the questions the other way round and you might see the answer. For many business schools, the past has been all about growing alumni donations. While those donations might come from alumni who had a good student experience, building the alumni relationship is far more complex and what alumni want is changing.
The latest Alumni Matters report, published with EFMD, found that just under half (48%) of the 2489 alumni who took part in the study would like their school to offer more opportunities for alumni learning, with 51% currently unaware of what is available to them. Reskilling and upskilling are dominant workplace themes as employers struggle to recruit talent and talent with the skills needed to advance their businesses.
While some alumni will look elsewhere for their future learning, looking perhaps to add international experience to their CV, many will start with where they studied previously. It’s not a surprise when you consider that 88% of those taking part in the study are proud of where they studied. With such positive feelings among alumni, it feels like it should be an open goal for business schools who can build a lifelong learning offer.
That doesn’t simply mean offering more of the same. While just under 1 in 5 (19%) are interested in another degree such as a Master’s or MBA, 57% want short non-degree executive education. And it’s not just formal learning that’s being sought – 48% want informal learning opportunities with content from outside their business school/university e.g. guest speakers from business, while 32% want informal learning opportunities with content from schools/departments at their university other than the business school. Not surprisingly, given alumni will largely be living at a distance from their former business school, 41% want to study entirely online.
Of course, there’s more to building the alumni relationship than just learning. Just over half (53%) want to make it easier to connect with other alumni, 47% want alumni to have more opportunities to use the alumni network, while 24% want advice and support for those interested in start-ups.
Getting the alumni relationship right can also ultimately drive those donations that schools have often sought. Only 13% have already made a donation, but given the right circumstances, 40% of the alumni respondents indicated that they would consider a donation.