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How Can Business Schools Improve Support For Graduates? Alumni Have Their Say

A recent survey from CarringtonCrisp saw business school alumni quizzed about the support that’s available after graduation—and how it can be improved

Tue Mar 5 2024

Business schools largely do a good job of keeping alumni engaged after graduation, however many graduates feel support could be improved in a few key areas, a new study reveals.

The Alumni Matters Survey, produced by Carrington Crisp in association with EFMD, quizzed 1652 business school alumni from 51 countries about their relationships with their graduating institutions. The survey revealed that 63% of grads still felt engaged with their schools, while a further 78% said they felt positive towards their alma mater.  

Graduate opinions on support from business schools

Alumni taking part in the survey graduated from a range of different programs, with around one-third identifying as business master's graduates and 17% as coming from MBAs. They also comprised a range of graduating classes, with over half leaving business school since 2012 and 23% within the past three years. 

Alternate classes had differing views of the ways schools engage with alumni.

Overall, 32% of alumni said their school informed them of relevant career opportunities and 33% said the school helped them maintain relationships with people they met while studying. However, among those who graduated in the last three years, the proportions rose to 38% respectively. 

Likewise, 34% of alumni overall felt their school enabled them to contribute to the school’s success and 37% said their graduating institution kept them informed about school news and activities, though these proportions rose to 39% and 42% among recent graduates.

How can support be improved? 

When asked how they felt schools could improve relationships with alumni, the most popular answer was better career services which 53% of grads identified as a key point to improve. This number rose significantly to 71% among grads of the last three years, perhaps indicating their lower confidence when navigating the job market.

When pressed on the specific measures schools could take, those alumni highlighted several steps: introducing jobs boards for alumni (70%), providing access to professional coaching services (57%), and facilitating connections with mentors in the alumni network (49%). Overall, 60% agreed that access to career services could be made easier for alumni. 

Another key area that alumni felt could be improved for grads was networking. As many as 44% of respondents said schools could provide more opportunities to use the alumni network, while 42% felt schools could make it easier for alumni to connect with each other. A further 39% added that schools could make it easier for alumni to connect with faculty. 

One of the most popular areas where alumni felt support could be improved after graduation was by offering more continued learning opportunities. A total of 42% of all graduates cited this as an issue, however this number rose to 56% among grads from the last three years. 

Grads identified a range of measures that schools could take to do this. Almost 70% said business schools should create specific programs to help alumni engage in lifelong learning. A further 67% said they would like to have access to online lectures and other faculty-led content. 

How can business schools improve support for alumni? 

As many as 63% of alumni said schools should offer them preferential rates to study on future programs. However, degree-level education was not the priority for all participants as 46% said they would prefer short course, non-degree, executive education and 45% said they would welcome informal learning opportunities from those outside the business school, such as guest speakers.

Among female survey respondents—who comprised 47% of all participants—a greater proportion said they wanted more opportunities to network with alumni (51%) and to access further learning opportunities (49%). 

With significant numbers of international students enrolling in business school degrees across the globe each year, opportunities for global alumni was a key issue. In total, 40% of respondents said schools should increase the availability of global activities. 

Among those alumni who sought more global opportunities, 60% said they desired opportunities to network via digital channels and 57% said they would welcome networking with grads from online programs. A further 53% said they would welcome opportunities to network with travelling faculty and more support for international chapters to engage with alumni, respectively. 

A significant number of alumni revealed a desire for more events post-graduation. A total of 37% said a wider range of events could be introduced. Asked to identify specific event types, 54% said career focused events, 52% said online webinars, and 52% said in-person events hosted in nearby locations. 

Interestingly, 33% of respondents said they would welcome more advice and support for those interested in startups. When pressed further on this, 60% of respondents interested in entrepreneurship said they were seeking opportunities to invest in new businesses and 58% said they were seeking advice as they were considering launching a business.