2018 UNICON Benchmarking State of the Industry Survey Summary AACSB

2018 UNICON Benchmarking State of the Industry Survey Summary AACSB

2018 UNICON Benchmarking State of the Industry Survey Summary

Eric Bergemann
Senior Director, Executive Programs
MIT Sloan School Of Management

UNICON (the University Consortium of Executive Education) is a global consortium of 113 of the most successful and sought-after university business school-based providers of executive learning.   UNICON’s conferences, publications, and networking activities raise the quality of non-degree university executive education, benefiting global businesses who want and need to improve performance and capability within their own organizations.

One of UNICON’s primary activities is annual publication of its Member Benchmarking Survey, which  tracks and provides UNICON members with a credible, comparative, and confidential assessment of the non-degree executive education business.  This comprehensive survey of UNICON membership includes data on financial performance, market reach of schools, changes in compensation (faculty/staff), blend of business (e.g. open/custom), and increasingly detailed data on services, methodologies and technology deployed in Executive Education.    UNICON Benchmarking data is extremely useful for member schools to help them understand some macro trends in the industry, uncover opportunities for their own growth, and support decision-making.

The 2018 UNICON Benchmarking Report

UNICON’s 2018 Benchmarking Report was published on November 19th and collected data from 100 member schools, a response rate of 90.1%.   Analyses are provided by school geography and revenue bands, providing opportunities to track peers and competitors by local market and by size of schools.   5 year historical data is also included in the report, providing the opportunity to track industry trends over time (at least 93 schools have participated in the survey in each of the past five years).

The 2018 report depicts university-based Executive Education undergoing notable changes as schools work to achieve distinctive ambitions: delivering impactful learning engagements for individuals and organizations; serving as a creator of learning innovation that underpins that impact and can enrich the degree-based curriculum; generating financial contribution to support academic mission.   Some of the notable findings from 2018 UNICON Benchmarking are below.

Market Size and Development

  • Responding schools in 2018 report a mean income of just over $18 million from non-degree executive education. 28% of schools report income above this mean figure.
  • Revenue is distributed 52% custom, 44% open, 4% other categories, about the same as the prior year.
  • However, the percentage of online and blended deliveries is now at 16% – up from 14% in each of the past two years – and suggestive that the migration to digital deliveries is picking up speed.
  • 78% of schools reported a revenue increase in Custom programs, versus 64% reporting revenue growth in Open programs.
  • The survey also reports on the expansion of campuses outside of home markets. An analysis by school revenue band reveals that all of the growth in campuses has taken place at schools generating $20m or more in annual revenue – though the data suggests that growth may have peaked.

Services Offered

The 2018 Benchmarking data demonstrates conclusively that schools are offering executive learning experiences far from the image of case-and-lecture-centric recreations of MBA curriculum:

  • The report details the Learning Methodologies used in Executive Education departments now. While the case method is often or always used 85% of the time, Group Participation, Team Exercises and Peer Learning are all deployed often or always in 80% of learning engagements.
  • Digital elements have grown the fastest over the last three years – 84% of schools reporting an increase. In the same timeframe, ‘Traditional Delivery’ (ie lectures) have decreased 43%, and Case Method has decreased 14%.
  • A major consideration in the choice of teaching methods is effectiveness – the methods with highest reported learning effectiveness include Team Exercises, Action Learning, Peer Learning, and Group Participation – all centered on peer/group activity. Digital effectiveness falls to the lower end of the spectrum, though recent UNICON member events make it clear that there is much improvement effort underway in this growing area.

  • Nearly every UNICON member now offers Coaching as part of its offerings, and there are a variety of coaching types on offer – with the fastest growing last year centered on team/leadership and relationship/behavioral coaching (seemingly consistent with focus on group/peer learning).

External Relationships

  • Partnerships with universities and non-university organizations are now a ‘new norm’ with 80% of schools reporting collaborations with other universities and nearly as many (77%) with non-universities.
  • However the motivations of the respective collaborations are notably different. The most cited reason for university collaborations is to satisfy customer demands.   The most cited reason for non-university demands is to open channels for new programs.

Participating UNICON members received the 2018 Benchmarking Report in November.   For a sample of this material, last year’s Executive Summary of the 2017 Benchmarking Report is available here.

Details on joining UNICON can be found in this PDF document.


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