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Business Schools Are Using MOOCs To Boost MBA Application Numbers

Free online courses could bring schools big returns

Thu Mar 9 2017

BusinessBecause
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have often been cast as business education’s bad guy; free, alternative online courses disrupting the market and threatening the traditional business school model.

The reality is different. For several years now, business schools have been developing their own MOOCs – in collaboration with leading MOOC platforms like Coursera – ostensibly to highlight their areas of expertise and reach new international audiences.

Spain’s IE Business School - ranked eighth in the Financial Times’ Global MBA Ranking 2017 - launched its first two MOOCs in 2014. Since then, its developed 16 more MOOCs in both English and Spanish, and plans to launch several more this academic year.

IE recently surveyed 140 of its successful MOOC-takers – completion rates for MOOCs are characteristically low. Although the school claims its MOOCs weren’t set up to drive a profit, 72% of the survey respondents said they were more likely to enroll in paid-for programs at IE having taken the MOOC.

In Spain and Latin America, only around 50% of the survey respondents had heard about IE before taking the MOOC. Outside the Spanish-speaking world, just 37% of MOOC-takers had heard about IE beforehand.

“Based on our survey results, a MOOCs is a pretty good tool to later convert MOOC-learners into paying students in our MBA or master’s programs,” says Monika Hamori, professor of human resource management at IE.

“Most of our MOOC-learners are between 25 and 34 years old, and many are doing these MOOCs to prepare themselves for MBA studies later on,” she continues. “MOOCs definitely increase our brand recognition and help drive that decision towards choosing IE.”

By the end of October 2016, IE had 67,000 people registered for its MOOCs, and around 28,000 actively engaged. Even if a small percentage of IE MOOC-takers go on to take paid programs at the school, the returns are there.

HEC Paris’ active MOOC-takers top 100,000. However, Vanessa Klein, the French school’s MOOCs project director, has doubts over the quality of applicants that MOOCs can generate.

“We are not reaching the same people that we would want to have in our courses,” she says. “We have a selection process at HEC where only a few of the students taking the MOOCs could compete,” she continues.

“And, even if 0.01% of the people taking MOOCs wanted to join our program, we couldn’t afford to have them!”

Are MOOCs a money-spinning applicant generation tool? Business schools wouldn’t put it that way. The inclusive reach of the MOOC could also represent a problem.

But, even so, Vanessa admits that there does appear to be a correlation between people who take MOOCs offered by HEC Paris, who then go on to take paid-for programs at the school.

“For sure, we have students interested in taking an HEC program who discovered us through the MOOCs,” she says.

Gareth Howells, executive director of the MBA and Masters in Finance at London Business School (LBS), has found much the same thing.

We’ve been happy to be part of the rise of MOOCs as a way to showcase the quality of LBS,” he says. “There’s no question that MOOCs give us an opportunity to reach a wider range of people who might be considering business school.”

Nicolas Glady, professor and Accenture strategic business analytics chair at ESSEC Business School, agrees. ESSEC launched its first MOOC just over a year ago.

“We see from the market that MOOCs have an impact,” he says. “And professors that develop MOOCs get invited to a lot of conferences afterwards!”

For business schools, the MOOCs are more than just a vanity piece. Roshan Boojihawon is director of the Online MSc International Business at Birmingham Business School – the wider university is part of FutureLearn, the first UK-led MOOC learning platform.

While Roshan is yet to see clear evidence of MOOCs driving paying applicants to the school, he expects an impact.

“The greater logic seems to say that more informal learning products like MOOCs will lead to more formal learning,” he says. “A lot of people test products and different offerings in the market,” he continues.

“MOOCs are a way to get started and try things out before you invest more time and money to get more robust qualifications. That’s certainly been the intention behind setting them up.”

Student Reviews

Birmingham Business School - University of Birmingham

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7/10/2023

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6/10/2023

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The beautiful campus and teaching expertise.

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chikondi

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4/10/2023

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Exceptional Support for international Students

Exceptional Support for International Students As an international student, my experience at the University of Birmingham has been nothing short of extraordinary, thanks to the outstanding support provided for international students. I would like to share my thoughts and experiences regarding the exceptional support I've received during my time here. From the moment I arrived on campus, it was evident that UoB prioritizes the well-being and success of its international students. Here are some key aspects of the support I've received: 1. Orientation Programs: The university's comprehensive orientation programs helped me acclimate to campus life, navigate administrative processes, and understand the academic system. I never felt lost or overwhelmed, thanks to the informative sessions and friendly staff. 2. Academic Advising: The academic advisors for international students are incredibly knowledgeable and approachable. They assisted me in creating a personalized academic plan, selecting courses, and understanding degree requirements. Their guidance ensured that I stayed on the right track academically. 3. Language Support: UoB offers exceptional language support services, including English language courses and conversation partners. These resources were invaluable in improving my language skills and building confidence in my communication abilities. 4. Cultural Integration: The university fosters a diverse and inclusive environment, making it easy for international students to feel like part of the community. There are numerous cultural clubs, events, and workshops that allow us to connect with fellow students and celebrate our diverse backgrounds. 5. Mental Health and Counseling Services: Recognizing the challenges that international students may face, the university provides excellent mental health and counseling services. It's comforting to know that support is available when needed, and these services are respectful of cultural differences. 6. Career Services: UoB offers exceptional career services tailored to international students. From resume workshops to job fairs, they've been instrumental in helping me prepare for my career post-graduation. The university's strong network of alumni has also been a valuable resource. 7. Visa and Immigration Assistance: Navigating the complexities of visa and immigration regulations can be daunting, but the university's dedicated staff provided guidance and assistance throughout the process. Their expertise made the experience seamless. 8. Housing Support: Securing suitable housing can be a challenge for international students, but the university offers assistance in finding on-campus housing options with flexible payments. This support ensured that I had a safe and comfortable place to live. 9. Financial Aid and Scholarships: UoB offers various scholarships and financial aid options for international students. Their commitment to making education accessible is commendable, they also provide financial support for graduation through the guild of students.

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16/02/2023

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student experience

I highly recommend the University of Birmingham. I think the school environment is very friendly to international students. I was able to get guidance and help from students in the school. I was also able to get support and guidance from the professional team on my career path. I would recommend the University of Birmingham to first-time international students and Masters students.

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29/01/2023

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There is always somebody to help!

The university respects the culture and background of their highly diverse student. It carters to everybody's need and puts its student first. It tries to the make the student feel at home and helps them deal with the university life.

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27/01/2023

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4/01/2023

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Experience at University of Birmingham

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John

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2/12/2022

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Cool

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30/11/2022

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A very welcoming uni

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