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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, in 2020, they were awarded Guardian University of the Year.

A Pivot for Aston University’s Online Offerings

Aston chose Keypath as its online program management (OPM) partner in 2017 for its deep experience in online enablement to re-envision the university’s existing online MBA programs.

The scope of the original 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

This was followed by the launch of the MSc Business Analytics program and the prestigious Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) in 2019. In 2021, Aston University expanded its suite of online program offerings with Keypath Education, launching an additional seven online programs including:

  • Masters of Science in Business Analytics Suite
  • Masters of Science in Digital Marketing and Analytics
  • Masters of Science in Management and Analytics
  • Masters of Science in Business and Management
  • Masters of Science in Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Masters of Science in Global Business Management
  • Masters of Science in Management and Finance
  • Masters of Science in Management and Innovation
  • Masters of Science in Management in a Digital Economy

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. To do this, Aston partnered with Keypath Education and utilized the KeypathEDGE platform to reimagine its course development, student recruitment strategies, operations, and student support.

Charting the University’s Student-Focused Growth Path

During the Design phase, Keypath identified the opportunity to improve existing 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 KeypathEDGE platform was also used when re-evaluating the student experience and student support. As a result, the Aston-Keypath partnership invested heavily in technology and left no stone unturned, 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 have built up a close working partnership between Aston University and Keypath Education Europe, which has concentrated on being excellent in all that we do. Together we have designed and delivered online programs which have exceptional satisfaction from participants and very high progression and outcomes,” said Professor Helen Higson, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Aston University.

The Results of a Holistic Approach and Collaboration

Leading indicators of the partnership were extremely positive. The business programs exhibited a 96% retention rate online after the first two intakes and international students represented 31% of all enrolled students which has now increased to 70% across our programs. The Aston University staff continued to integrate the lessons learned from the partnership into other areas of the university, resulting in the expansion of Aston University’s online programs. "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.

“We are immensely proud of our growing partnership with Aston University and are pleased to see exceptional satisfaction rates for our online programs. Crafted with our KeypathEDGE platform, every module has gone through a rigorous six-month course design process, creating an interactive and collaborative experience for our students and setting a high standard for online delivery,” said Patrick Klein, Managing Director of Keypath Education Europe.

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"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."

Alec Cameron, Professor and Vice-Chancellor, Aston University