Alumni networks are a long-term benefit to studying at business school. University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, however, has taken the resource to a whole new level.
Michigan Ross graduates will now have lifetime, tuition-free access to leadership development and executive education — courses in this category costing in some cases $24,500.
This includes access to online and in-classroom courses, livestream events, and videos on topics such as leadership, finance and human resources.
Alison Davis-Blake, dean of Michigan Ross, said the program — Alumni Advantage — ensures that support doesn’t end when students get their diplomas. It is also a way to reach the business school’s 45,000-strong alumni network living in 90 countries. “Our alumni are our most powerful and passionate resource,” she said.
In addition to full tuition scholarships to Michigan Ross executive education for open enrolment programs in Ann Arbor as well as Hong Kong, Malaysia, and India, colleagues or family members of alumni get 50% off executive education courses.
This may help to attract more candidates to Michigan Ross at a time when executive education is facing multiple threats from technology start-ups like Coursera, edX or Udacity, as well as other professional schools, and even publishers.
Scott DeRue, associate dean of executive education at Michigan Ross, said that the school “fully intend[s] to add new programs, events, and resources” to the scheme in future.
But it is also a gamble in terms of potential lost revenue from executive education — traditionally the most income-producing of schools’ portfolios of programs. Michigan Ross did not reveal revenue for open enrolment executive education in the latest set of rankings, but Harvard Business School reported this year $165 million in revenue from such programs.
Alumni are key to business schools for a number of reasons, including donations, admissions, and providing students with career connections.
In July this year Michigan Ross received a $60 million donation to boost entrepreneurial studies from Sam Zell, a University of Michigan alumnus and chairman of Equity Group Investments.
In 2013 real estate developer Stephen Ross donated $100 million to the business school, after first providing a $100 million naming gift in 2004.
Prominent Michigan Ross alumni include William Demchak, who became chief executive of NYSE-listed PNC Financial Services in 2013, after graduating from the MBA in 1986.