BIF Explores New Business Models with Leaders of Colleges of Art and Design

Higher education is in need of new business models. Costs are rising, federal regulations are increasing, government financial aid is not keeping pace with student need, and online degree programs are increasing competition in the field.  Families can’t afford rising tuitions, and some are questioning the value of a degree in the face of a market that does not guarantee high paying jobs for graduates. 

At the same time, there are exciting opportunities emerging for higher education institutions that are willing and able to be creative.  Art and design schools are uniquely poised to be a part of the vanguard of business model innovation in higher education.  Over the last several years, members of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) have engaged in conversations about new model design and experimentation.  As longtime leaders in bringing creativity to the world, AICAD institutions have the opportunity to utilize their creative capabilities to bring new business models to higher education.

On November 5th, BIF led a design sprint with Presidents, Chief Academic Officers, and Chief Financial Officers from over 30 Independent Colleges of Art and Design.  We shared the BIF perspective on business model innovation, collectively explored the business model innovation imperative for art and design schools, and practiced rapid ideation of new business model concepts.

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Using inspiration from analogous contexts, the AICAD leaders dove into rethinking the fundamental components of higher education, such as: where and how learning happens, who facilitates it, and whom it happens for (i.e. who can be students).  We explored business model opportunities unique to the capabilities of art and design institutions, such as leveraging—and taking the lead in driving—emerging fields centered on creativity, design, and entrepreneurship.

After a couple hours of rapid ideation around new business model concepts, we brought in a small group of California College of the Arts (CCA) graduate students to critique the AICAD leaders’ new business model sketches.  The students were excited to see the leaders of CCA and other colleges thinking so openly about the design of their institutions, and they provided insightful and incisive feedback on the design concepts that were presented.

We ended the day by discussing the “muscles and mechanisms” required to design and experiment with new models on an ongoing basis.  Leaders discussed individual and collective next steps in business model design and experimentation.  Keep your eyes on the AICAD institutions to see real world business model innovation in action!

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