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Ottawa, ON— March 3, 2022 — 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 university-based executive education programs.  Key findings from the survey include:

  • Despite the second consecutive year of pandemic-related revenue decline, providers are optimistic that the university-based executive education industry has begun to rebound.
  • The use of technology to deliver executive learning has accelerated sharply.
  • Leadership, strategy and finance are the most popular topics taught by these providers throughout the world.

95 of UNICON’s 115 member schools completed the survey which covered the period from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.  Collectively they report that after several years of steady growth, the pandemic caused a reduction in revenue for the second consecutive year. However, the exponential increase in the use of remote learning tools is inspiring providers to believe that the industry has already begun to emerge from the slump, and is poised for a return to growth in the near future.

Pre-pandemic, the preferred method of executive education delivery was face-to-face, either on campus or at the client site. And while there has been a gradual shift toward remote learning in the last decade, the pandemic caused the industry to innovate at a much more rapid pace. The survey found a continued surge in the adoption of learning technology, particularly synchronous – or live – platforms. The use of these platforms to deliver programs increased 100% from 2018/19 and 47% since last year.

“There is no doubt that the pandemic continues to depress revenue across our industry,” said Dr. Markus Frank, Chairperson of UNICON, and Executive Director at University of St. Gallen. “The unpredictable nature of the global recovery has disrupted our ability to develop and execute plans with our corporate clients. But rather than wait for the situation to normalize, UNICON member schools have redoubled their efforts to innovate in the learning technology space with some amazing results. For years we have been pioneers in the field of remote learning. To see what is happening now with synchronous and asynchronous platforms, networked learning, and even augmented and virtual reality is truly inspiring. Virtual learning is here to stay, and it will be very exciting to see how UNICON members drive its evolution in the coming years.”

Since 2020, much of our focus at Telfer Executive Programs has been on the pivot to online and of embracing the possibilities and change that came with that pivot. “After successfully delivering our programs in a virtual format for our 2021 program cycle, I am grateful that we continue to receive high ratings from our participants regarding the impact and quality of their learning experience.”  said Glen Orsak, Director of Telfer Executive Programs at the Telfer School of Management. “ With this pivot to online and hybrid learning becoming the established reality, we are now seeing a shift in how we support leaders in their development.  In this time of amplified VUCA, one of the most important skills that leaders are seeking to revisit is how to reflect on and discern their purpose as leaders, and the purpose of their team or organization.” As we look ahead at our spring and winter sessions in 2022, we look forward to welcoming participants back to our Centre For Executive Leadership soon, but are also mindful that virtual programming is here to stay. With that in mind, we feel motivated to explore new and engaging ways to deliver the knowledge and expertise of our associates and remain committed to providing innovative design, timely and relevant content and highly experiential programming. More than anything, we embrace the opportunity to continue to play a role in Canadians’ personal and professional leadership development.

Three quarters of the survey respondents expect an increase in revenue in the 2021/22 academic year. Leading the way are the European member schools, which have already seen revenues rebound to levels higher than in 2016/17. “The UNICON membership is remarkably resilient,” said Mark Lewis, Executive Director of Executive Education at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and co-chair of the UNICON Benchmarking Committee. “We have experienced significant peaks and valleys before, and have always emerged smarter, nimbler, and more focused. The survey suggests that my colleagues around the world will emerge from this pandemic sooner than one might imagine, and ready to serve our clients in even better ways.”

This year’s survey asked a new question about the popularity of various executive education subjects. Joining leadership, strategy, and finance in the top five most popular subjects were innovation and change management. “It’s great to see the UNICON member schools practice what they preach,” added Frank. “We have met this global challenge by innovating and demonstrating a remarkable ability to manage change. I am 100% confident that these attributes will enable university-based executive education to thrive for decades to come.”


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 August-October 2021 and included responses from 83 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 of 115 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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