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Case Study

Aston University

Meet Aston University

Aston University is a public research university located in Birmingham, United Kingdom, with a student population of 9,000 undergraduates and 2,000 postgraduates. The university is renowned for having one of the oldest and largest business schools in the UK, and was awarded TEF Gold - the highest accolade - for student satisfaction and teaching quality. The business school is triple accredited, placing it in the top one percent of all business schools worldwide. Additionally, Aston’s Business School has been recognized in the Top 100 for Business and Management Studies by QS World University 2015.

A Pivot for Aston University’s Online Offerings

Aston chose Keypath as its online program management (OPM) partner for its deep experience in online enablement to re-envision the university’s existing online MBA programs. The scope of the partnership included:

  • Masters of Business Administration
  • Masters of Science in Business and Management
  • Masters of Science in Accounting and Finance
  • Masters of Science in International Accounting and Finance

Aston University sought to create an exceptional online student experience, to expand its international footprint, build its brand and serve an emergent audience of full-time working professionals unable to attend campus. Aston’s partnership with Keypath Education entails course development, student recruitment, operations and student support.

Charting the University’s Student-Focused Growth Path

The cornerstone of the Aston-Keypath partnership was retiring online course content that had been adapted from campus course content and recreate it from the ground up with online students and leading online pedagogy in mind. Keypath worked side by side with faculty to ensure they could convey course material with the gravitas it needed to resonate.

This world-class course content was supported with rapid enhancements of the Blackboard Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), which integrated with the CRM for shared assets and offered an experience tailored to online students. Keypath also provided seamless student support on behalf of Aston, and with the recommendation of the Deputy Vice Chancellor, this student support approach will be rolled out to on-site programs in the future.

Everything the combined Aston and Keypath team envisioned was created with the goal of repeatability and scalability. The team standardized the approach to building programs, implemented multiple course intakes throughout the year and piloted systems applicable to blended learning and apprenticeships.

The Aston-Keypath partnership invested heavily in technology and left no stone unturned in a complete re-evaluation of the student experience and student support, leading the team to resolve other overlooked yet critical challenges, including concise student communication, a linked registry and finance system and alternative payment methods.

‘We value Keypath because it is a true partnership. We are pushing towards the same goal, and have a lot of pride in the work that we are collectively doing. This partnership is a priority for the university as part of our larger strategy, and as such, we are equally invested in its success,’ said Simon Willans, Director of Online Partnerships, Aston University.

The Early Results of a Holistic Approach and Collaboration

Leading indicators of the partnership are positive. The business programs exhibit a 96% retention rate online after the first two intakes and international students now represent 31% of all enrolled students.

The Aston University staff is integrating the lessons learned from the partnership into other areas of the university and using the new systems and technology to solve other challenges.

"Aston has had a fantastic relationship with Keypath from the inception of this project. From the time it was announced we put together a joint team -- Aston academics working alongside professionals from Keypath -- and they've been delivering great success so far," said Professor and Vice Chancellor Alec Cameron of Aston University.

Rajay Naik, Keypath CEO Europe added, "Over the coming years, Keypath is going to be designing, marketing, recruiting for, and supporting the degrees for Aston University. This will provide the most incredible experience for students and ensure that they get the most wonderful graduate outcomes and can transform their lives."

Learn how Keypath is helping universities build, expand and scale online degree programs here.

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"We are pushing towards the same goal, and have a lot of pride in the work that we are collectively doing."

Simon Willans, Director of Online Partnerships, Aston University