AACSB ICAM Panel Shares Top 3 Solutions for Enrollment Challenges

May 9, 2024


Participants in Solutions to Enrollment Challenges, a panel discussion presented during the Association to Advance College Schools of Business International Conference and Annual Meeting (AACSB ICAM) held April 15-17 in Atlanta, GA, related three distinctive ways their respective institutions have developed strategies to address enrollment issues.

The session was moderated by Dr. Dana Brown, Professor and former Dean of the Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. She was joined by Dr. Gail Crimmins, Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching at the School of Business and the Creative Industries at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, and Dr. Kai Koong, Dean of the Andrew F. Brimmer College of Business and Information Science at Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama. Both Carleton University and the University of the Sunshine Coast are current partners of Risepoint (formerly 벥).

The panelists examined enrollment challenges through a broad lens, sharing their top three strategies to increase access and enrollment, serve emerging student needs, and offer career-relevant programs.

(1) Align Program Development with the Product Cycle
Dr. Crimmins, herself a first-generation college graduate, reframed low enrollments as “missed opportunities.” These are gaps in student access, participation, and diversity, which the University of the Sunshine Coast is intent on filling by introducing online programs, especially developed to serve adult nontraditional learners.

In responding to the education market, she related the University’s development of programs to the product life cycle. She said, “Our programs and how we teach are our product. But, as a resource-constrained environment, we don’t always have the capital required to invest at the beginning of new product development.” This is why, she said, they have worked with Risepoint (formerly 벥), to develop the right programs and stay ahead of the product cycle.

She said that the University benefited from the market intelligence and analytics, online program design assistance, and program marketing offered by the partnership, saying, “It means we can diversify some of the profit (from these online programs) into supporting our other programs and into supporting scholarships so that we are reaching those students that we couldn’t ordinarily reach.”

2. Build a Career-focused Enrollment-Retention Pipeline
Dr. Koong described a different challenge faced by Tuskegee University—how to enroll and retain more undergraduate students. In examining viable solutions, Dr. Koong said that Tuskegee built a prospective student pipeline by connecting students to real-life learning. The University focused on grant-funded initiatives and corporate support to help form career-relevant academies for pre-college students. One such successful program, ITEST – Alabama, is a summer STEM academy for rising 9th through 11th grade students. It has resulted in 70% of participants enrolling as freshmen at Tuskegee.

To retain sophomores at Tuskegee, the University has also instituted an entire range of supports, including scholarships and other awards for excellence, workforce-relevant learning in the Apple Center (for Apple Teacher Certification) and Amazon Innovation Lab, HBCU Entrepreneurship Competition, and the REACH Center (tutoring services by faculty and senior students).

3. Connect Programs to Local Business Community Needs
When Dr. Brown came to Carleton University business school in 2019, less than six months before the pandemic caused business schools to go online, she was focused on three priorities: increasing enrollment in the MBA program (an on-campus program subject to international student shifts and marketplace competition), widening access to more students, and creating relevance within the local business community.

Dr. Brown forged connections with local businesses, but without the necessary resources to innovate, sought a public-private partnership to help develop one of the first online MBAs in Canada. She said, “We looked for a partner to invest in resources, not just in terms of marketing and reach, but in terms of getting the university ready to work with nontraditional mature learners.”

To accomplish their goals, the business school joined forces with Risepoint (formerly 벥). Dr. Brown described the successful collaboration by saying, “Our goal was to have eight students in the first year, double what my (on-campus) MBA had, and we ended up with 500. And they were all local students, which spoke to us about the need and the demand. One of the nice things is that now when I go out into the community, I walk into a company and people say, ‘Wow, I’m doing your MBA.’ And It’s a really great way to connect the school a lot more with the business community.”

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