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The revolution has begun

Stellar magazine coverYou might think that you would find the future of business education in an article in the FT, the Wall Street Journal or the Times Higher, it might be in a speech at an AACSB or EFMD conference or perhaps in a boardroom discussion at McKinsey; you probably wouldn’t expect to find it in Stellar magazine.

For those that don’t know, Stellar is the Sunday magazine for the Herald Sun newspaper in Australia.  On a recent trip, I was flicking through the cooking, fashion and entertainment features and came across an advert for the University of New England (UNE) on the inside back cover.

An advert from a University is not so surprising, but what the advert said is far more important.  The closing paragraph stated “If you’re not ready to commit to a whole degree right now, we also have our revolutionary new Bespoke Courses where you can design a short course of just 2, 3 or 4 units.  Because they’re real degree units you may get credit towards a full degree later”.

‘Revolutionary’ may be too strong a word for what’s on offer, but this may well be a big part of the future of business education.  Of course, solutions like a Grad Cert or Diploma with a slice of a full degree have been around for some time, but have struggled to build a strong position in the market.

The UNE offer is flexible, study online or on campus, with pathways for those lacking entry qualifications.  For the prospective student, it offers the opportunity of a degree, but acquired around their lifestyle commitments.  No doubt studying for a few units is also cheaper than a full degree, the full cost can be spread over a longer period, making the degree more affordable.

Any why is the ultimate achievement of a degree important?  It’s what employers understand.  An employer can set up a program that meets their needs and delivers a quicker return on investment than a full degree.  The cost will be less than a full degree, again delivering a better ROI.  For the employer, the degree title is easier to grasp than a certificate or diploma, while for the student the degree title makes the qualification more portable as it is more widely understood if the student wants to change jobs.

All it needs now is a strong brand identity.  ‘Bespoke Courses’ may not be enough for the revolutionary future of business education, instead it needs to be positioned as a stellar solution.

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