Traditionally, corporate sponsorship has underwritten a large chunk of executive education, as companies throw their financial backing behind rising stars destined for a place on the board. That source of income for business schools is now under threat as participants report that employer funding is harder to come by.
Demand for executive education tends to track economic cycles. When the economy is doing well, companies are more willing to splash out on training for their senior managers. But in a downturn, revenues will dry up and employers will cut back on expenses.
“Some of the professionals who are interested in taking executive education courses tell us that they are finding it more difficult to obtain employer funding. They also report that in some cases it’s hard for them to make the time available, because they are so busy [managing a crisis],” says Nicole Kleyn, dean of executive education at Rotterdam School of Management.
That said, she believes forward-looking organizations realize that during these difficult times, employees will need new knowledge and skills. “We’re not seeing a change compared to before COVID-19; around 90 percent of our participants are funded by their employers,” says Kleyn.
The Dutch school also works with grant providers who seek to create impact by funding education. “We offer discounts for our alumni and self-employed professionals and, under certain circumstances, allow for payments in instalments,” says Kleyn. RSM also collaborates with UAF (a Dutch refugee organization) to offer executive education scholarships to refugees, to help them find suitable employment on the Dutch labor market. […]