The EFMD business magazine

The EFMD business magazine

Survival of the fittest: The new world order in education

The education market has never been more buoyant. But that also means more change and new challenges to traditional business schools. If they do not respond, says Richard Taylor, they may face extinction.

The world is changing at a faster rate than we have ever witnessed. The education sector is benefiting from increasing advances in technology and the barriers to entry are lower than ever, as more people look to cash in on this growing global market.

We are not yet at the tipping point, where the old will meet the new, and I don’t believe that traditional institutional education providers are fully aware of the tsunami of competition that’s about to hit them. I am not sure whether it is a case of the old brigade burying their heads in the sand or whether they simply do not know how to become again relevant to their students.

Either way, unless business schools embrace change, they will face the risk of losing relevance and slowly dying. We have identified four key challenges that may stop the onslaught and allow business schools to grow and prosper:

Key challenge 1:

Democratising the world of learning

The world of learning is being democratised at an astonishingly rapid rate, which is driven in large part by the fact that technology is opening new doors to anyone and everyone across the planet. “EdTech” is rapidly evolving and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are one of the first new products making a small dent in the sector.

MOOCs from some of the world’s leading education providers (Harvard, MIT, Caltech) can now be found online (edX, Coursera and FutureLearn) and point to an exciting new channel of learning.

However, MOOCs are just the first wave of digital learning and though they provide a glimpse of the future, at present they are challenged as a product because they offer no “real-world” commercial value. They are simply not being taken seriously by business: but this is not surprising, given that there is no formal qualification upon completion, they are often free and the completion rates are in single digit percentages.

The “price versus value” equation will no doubt evolve as they become ever more present in our lives. Furthermore, their cultural and economic significance should not be underestimated, as they point to a growing digital education market.

But just what does this mean for business schools?

It means that innovation has to be at the heart of the organisation: traditional schools need to act more like fast and nimble tech start-ups and less like lethargic bureaucracies. It is tough as the old world still rules – but we are fast approaching this tipping point. Those that embrace change and “try, try and try again” will succeed, more often than not by testing new approaches, but also by their sheer determination to do something new and innovative.

Those that do not embrace this democratic world face an uncertain future with an avalanche of new entrants coming to steal their students.

Survival of the fittest: The new world order in education

See more articles from Vol.09 Issue 02 – ’15.

Richard Taylor is an international brand strategy
and communications consultant. He founded
Brandon Consulting in 2013 and previously had two
decades of experience working on international
transformation programmes across the government,
education, FMCG and retail sectors.

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