2018 UNICON Benchmarking Survey Summary

2018 UNICON Benchmarking Survey Summary

2018 UNICON Benchmarking Survey Summary

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 education. Member schools engage in accelerating the development of leaders and managers, thereby enhancing performance in public and private organizations globally through executive development initiatives.

Through participation in UNICON, member schools gain new knowledge, inspiration, capabilities for enhancing the effectiveness of their operations, and a global network of colleagues. They stay at the forefront of the industry, and together help create the future of the executive education industry.

Primary activities of the consortium include developing conferences, original research, networking activities, and leadership development programs. Though its website and social media presence, UNICON creates a means for information sharing among its members all centered around the business and practice of executive education.

A primary project of UNICON is the annual publication of the Member Benchmarking Survey. The survey provides UNICON members with a credible, comparative, and confidential assessment of the non-degree executive education industry.

This comprehensive survey of UNICON membership includes data on financial performance, market reach of schools, changes in faculty and staff compensation, blend of open enrollment and custom programs, and increasingly detailed data on services, methodologies and technology deployed in executive education. UNICON Benchmarking data is a vital resource for member schools and provides insights on macro trends in the industry, uncovers opportunities for their own growth, and supports decision-making.

The 2018 UNICON Benchmarking Survey Report

UNICON’s 2018 Benchmarking Survey Report was published on November 19, 2018 and collected data from 100 member schools, resulting in a response rate of 90.1%. Analyses are based on school geography and revenue bands, providing opportunities to track peers and competitors by local market and size of schools. 5-year historical data is also included in the report, providing the opportunity to track industry trends over time.

The 2018 report shows that university-based executive education programs are undergoing notable changes as schools work to achieve distinctive ambitions: deliver impactful learning engagements for both individuals and organizations; drive learning innovation that can enrich the degree-based curriculum; and generate financial contribution to support academic missions. Some of the notable findings from 2018 UNICON Benchmarking Survey Report are highlighted 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 according to the following breakdown: 52% custom programs, 44% open enrollment programs and 4% other categories. This data is reflective of the 2017 Survey Report results.
  • The percentage of online and blended deliveries is now at 16% – up from 14% in each of the past two years, which suggests 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 enrollment 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 $20 million 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 versus more traditional case-and-lecture 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 methods are deployed often or always in 80% of learning engagements.
  • Digital elements have grown the fastest over the last three years with 84% of schools reporting an increase. In the same timeframe, ‘traditional delivery’ (i.e. lectures) have decreased 43%, and the case method has decreased 14%.
  • A major consideration in the choice of teaching methods is effectiveness. The methods with the highest reported learning effectiveness include team exercises, action learning, peer learning, and group participation – all centered around peer and group activity. Digital effectiveness falls to the lower end of the spectrum, though recent UNICON member events demonstrate that there is an improvement effort underway in this growing area.

  • Nearly every UNICON member now offers coaching as part of its offerings. There are a variety of coaching types, however the fastest growing area last year centered on team/leadership and relationship/behavioral coaching.

External Relationships

  • Partnerships with universities and non-university organizations are now a ‘new norm’ with 80% of schools reporting collaborations with other universities and 77% reporting collaborations with non-universities.
  • The most cited reason for university collaborations is to satisfy customer demands, while the most cited reason for non-university demands is to open channels for new programs.

We hope this report is useful to you in deepening your understanding of the non-degree executive education field and marketplace, and supports your own decision-making.


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