Academic SEM Strategy: Sustainability

Michael G. Dolence & Associates, Volume 2015, Number 4

Innovation in Higher Education Newsletter

Academic Strategies will determine enrollment success and the future sustainability of Higher Education because curriculum drives enrollment, enrollment drives revenue and revenue drives everything else.




The Postsecondary Education Conundrum

“Postsecondary education in the United States faces a conundrum: Can we preserve access, help students learn more and finish their degrees sooner and more often, while keeping college affordable for families, all at the same time? And can the higher education reforms currently most in vogue—expanding the use of technology and making colleges more accountable—help us do these things?”—The Brookings Institution, June 5, 2013, written by Cecilia Elena Rouse



Academic Strategies, at a minimum, must achieve four primary objectives:

  • They must be built upon a curriculum architecture that is optimized for sustainability.
  • They must result in curricula that are current, competitive, engaging, cohesive, and of value.
  • They must optimize the emerging Global Digital Learning Ecosystem.
  • They must result in curricula that thrive in a highly competitive market being both affordable and compelling.

Explore MGDA Higher Education Blog

The new Global Digital Learning Ecosystem Paradigm continues to evolve and shape the future of Higher Education.

Here are some prime examples:

  • The Global Freshman Academy EdX and Arizona State University, two leaders in interactive online education, announce the Global Freshman Academy, a first-of-its-kind program that offers a unique entry point to an undergraduate degree.
  • The $7K Masters in Computer Science. Georgia Tech’s new OMSCS in partnership with Udacity and ATT is a great example of optimizing the emerging global digital learning ecosystem.
  • The $20K iMBA. The UIUC iMBA, expected to launch in 2016, priced at $20,000 (est.). This digital curriculum architecture is designed to serve learners in a MBA degree program of study, as well as, individuals seeking advanced practice standing in seven contemporary business communities of practice. [Coursera iMBA page]

Developing and using Academic SEM Strategies.

Here arre some examples of what we mean when we sugest contemproary Academic SEM Strategies.

  • Develop Curriculum around a new proficiency based curriculum architecture by embedding Certifications into Community of Practice Based Programs of Study.
  • Develop Program based Positioning Strategies as a way to revitalize existing curricula and develop a fresh narrative to position Programs of Study in the market.
  • Assess strategic value of existing Programs of Study and use the information to create a value narrative.
  • Evaluate academic strategic assets and use the information to develop new high market value curricula.
  • There are three months until launch of the 2015 Recruitment Season for Fall 2016 enrollments. Time to fine tune plans, polish strategies, test systems, pre test everything and begin social media pre campaign activities.
  • It is also time for contingency planning and Academic SEM strategising for Fall 2015 academic intitiatives, Academic Master Plan review and revision, and comprehensive review of any curriculum development projects underway.

Caution: Do not waste the calendar, it moves quickly and when it runs out, all efforts jump one year into the future. Do not get distracted by quick fixes and misguided underinformed silly ideas that have no hope of yield.

  • Take care that a bottom feeding mandate doesn’t hamstring the 2016 campaign by distracting attention from the critical planning and setup work.
  • Time to plan a 2016 ‘Bump Strategy” is now.

Academic SEM

Learn why all “Strategic” Enrollment Management is “Academic,” attend:

Academic SEM Posters Available

Academic SEM Funnel [MGDA01]


Academic SEM Cycles [MGDA02]







Federal Financial Aid: 3 Part Documentary Available

Looking Back to Move Forward: A History of Federal Student Aid

The Lumina Foundation has posted a three part documentary on the policy and the political origins of U.S. federal financial aid programs. These resources are a great background training for student affairs professionals, academic leaders, and enrollment management professionals.

In addition to the three videos below, you may wish to explore:

How Did We Get Here: Growth of Federal Student Loans (Part 1)

Where Financial Aid Began: Partnering with Campuses and States (Part 2)

Pell Grant: Building Block of Student-Based Aid (Part 3)

Lumina ReportDownload the companion PDF to the series.

Academic SEM Strategy: The iMBA at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign College of Business

The UIUC iMBA is expected to launch in 2016, and be priced at $20,000 or so. The digital curriculum architecture is designed to serve learners in a MBA degree program of study, as well as, individuals seeking advanced practice standing in seven contemporary business communities of practice. [Coursera iMBA page]
Using a strategy of interweaving Coursera MOOC courses with embedded specializations/certifications either in parallel or as precursor to the College of Business MBA, UIUC has optimized its digital curricula for multiple markets. There are seven specializations with embedded certifications anticipated with at least one available now, including:

  1. Digital Marketing (available now)
  2. Global Business Strategy and Economics
  3. Healthcare Management
  4. Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  5. Business Analytics
  6. Innovation and Technology
  7. Advanced topics in Finance and Accounting

Each specialization and their corresponding certification packages discrete ‘Community of Practice’ portions of UIUC CoB digital MBA and positions them firmly in both advanced practice and collegiate degree markets. Between now and 2016, the school will put all the courses required for its traditional MBA program on Coursera and they will be available free of charge. Students can explore, experience and digest courses selected to meet their interest or need or they can take the program curriculum. If no credit or certificates are of interest, the program is free. However, to earn a degree one must apply, be accepted, enroll, complete with satisfactory grades and pay an estimated $20K (other comparable MBAs cost $75K to 100+K). If one wishes to earn a certificate, such as, the Digital Marketing specialization, which is available now, the cost is $474. The DM Certificate curriculum consists of 5 courses plus a capstone. Learners can pay as they go or all at once.


The UIUC iMBA is designed and intended to be disruptive. It is built upon the next generation curriculum architecture. It optimizes the emerging digital learning ecosystem, connecting the curriculum directly to learners everywhere. It embeds assessment in the design, and provides certificates of achievement for high value course sequences as standalone or stacked credentials. It, combined with, Georgia Tech / Udacity / ATT $7K Masters in Computer Science are signs that large scale (MOOC/SOOC type) curricula are moving beyond proof of concept. It is reasonable to expect that monetizing large scale curricula will continue to evolve.

Note: also see

Evolve to Academic SEM

If you’re not thinking Academic SEM, you are not thinking about the future. To explore Academic SEM strategies, join us by attending:

Academic SEM Posters Available

Academic SEM Funnel [MGDA01]


Academic SEM Cycles [MGDA02]