University-based executive education providers rapidly adopting pedagogy-enhancing technology

University-based executive education providers rapidly adopting pedagogy-enhancing technology

Minneapolis, MN – December 2nd,  2017 – The International Consortium for Executive Education (UNICON) today released findings from its annual membership benchmarking survey, which includes responses from nearly 100 universities around the world with significant executive education programs.  The survey found that university-based executive education providers are using technology to deliver or enhance the learning experience at an even faster rate than they themselves predicted they would.

A record 99 of UNICON’s 113 member schools completed the survey.  Of these, 94% reported the use, or planned use, of asynchronous learning platforms.  In the 2012 survey, just 53% of UNICON members said they offered asynchronous learning, with another 18% planning to do so in the future.

Networked/Online learning has expanded significantly, with 86% of providers now offering this tool to clients, versus 69% five years ago.  Year-over-year, webinars saw the most significant increase in usage, now offered by 87% of UNICON’s worldwide members.

For several years, coaching has been one of the most popular services offered by university-based executive education providers.  For the first time, the benchmarking survey asked about the types of coaching provided.  Business coaching is the most common form of coaching, followed by high potential/development, team/leadership, and performance.  At North American schools, high potential/development coaching is more common than business coaching.  Throughout the world, this coaching is provided by a combination of faculty and external consultants.

“The university-based executive education industry tends to be at the forefront of innovative approaches to teaching and learning,” said UNICON chair Tina Narron, Chief Operating Officer for Executive Development at University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.  “We cater to busy executives who want to make the most of every day, and every hour.  So, it’s not surprising that we are constantly looking for new ways to engage our clients that make the best use of their time. It is rewarding to see colleagues throughout the world embrace new approaches to learning that best serve the needs of our customers.”

Other key findings in the survey include:

  • Most segments of the industry experienced year-over-year growth, with only the very largest providers experiencing a modest decrease in revenue.
  • There was a sharp increase in the percentage of revenue derived from Open Enrollment programs – those intended for a heterogeneous audience. Open Enrollment programs now account for 45% of revenue, the highest percentage in many years.
  • Most of the custom programs – those tailored to a single organization’s needs – were delivered locally and regionally. Europe leads the way in providing custom programs outside the provider’s home country, with nearly 20% of all custom work being delivered abroad.  This is one factor explaining a nearly doubling of the number of offices or representatives outside the average European school’s home country.
  • North American providers are the most productive, with the average revenue per FTE more than twice that of the global average.
  • The majority of schools have either engaged or attempted to engage other Non-University or University entities in some kind of relationship/initiative in the last three years.
  • Three out of four schools in this study are part of a Business School within a non-profit university or college – driven by 92% of North American Schools following this model.

“We are an industry not constrained by geographical boundaries nor by pedagogical approach,” said Narron.  “We follow the geographical and programmatic needs of our clients as we help them see around the next corner.  It is particularly gratifying to see this adaptability captured in this survey.”

Narron added: “The continued health of this industry is a testament to the hard work, careful listening and active relationship-building that characterizes UNICON’s member organizations.  UNICON is committed to helping each member school grow by presenting new approaches to executive learning through our conferences and research activities.”

About the survey

The questionnaire was developed by UNICON in collaboration with Percept Research to provide consortium members with a credible and comparative assessment of the non-degree executive education industry. It was conducted in October 2017 and included responses from 88 percent of UNICON’s membership.


Founded in 1972 as an association of executive education program directors, UNICON has evolved from an informal common-interest group into an incorporated non-profit consortium committed to advancing the field of university-based executive education. Membership is composed 113 educational institutions from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.

UNICON is committed to the principle that university-based executive education provides a combination of thought-leadership at the highest levels of rigor, masterful learning environments and practical application that cannot be replicated by non-academic providers.

UNICON sponsors and conducts research studies that bring to the forefront this unique value of university-based executive education. It also provides industry/operational knowledge and networking opportunities for members through conferences, webinars, workshops, research, benchmarking, website, newsletters, job postings, discussion boards and forums and other activities.


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