Like most industries, the Higher Education sector has had to do some quick reacting to ensure that it is supporting its customers (students) needs in the immediate time, and also supporting its staff as they adapt to a new way of doing things. While some Universities will have been better prepared for this, the speed at which the entire sector has transitioned and adapted is impressive.

University - new market opportunities

Yes, the move to online education for many was not a choice, however the path will hopefully ignite the imagination of the sector. As universities and colleges remodel how they serve their current students, it’s a great time to also look at their product portfolio to see if they can expand it to capture new opportunities.

The market for online education is big, and one where many players have a chance to take a slice of the pie. The market is projected to reach a value of US$319.167 billion by 2025 (for both academic and professional education which could indeed grow if the Higher Education sector puts effort and resources into creating new learning pathways and innovating in how they will deliver education.

See the future opportunity and plan for it

Right now, you might be thinking, “I just need to serve my current students and make sure that they are being looked after”. Of course, that’s true. However, doing some research and strategy groundwork can help satisfy both. If it’s within capacity, this is a prime time to accelerate your digital transformation and drive new channels for student acquisition, while also providing an exceptional experience for current students. 

Tools like the McKinsey Matrix can help you as you work through your new strategy. 

McKinsey Matrix

The matrix helps to identify profitable business segments and your organisation’s ability to drive profit from them. On the Y Axis, Market Attractiveness should indicate how easy or difficult it will be for your institution to compete in a market/segment and gain profit from it. And on the X Axis, you are looking to identify your institution’s position in relation to competitors. Strategic Management Institute has a great article explaining this in more detail.

While this process can take some time, it’s a valuable activity, not only to identify new areas of opportunity, but also to align your teams and plan a shared vision for what’s possible in the future. 

Sense checking your big bets

Once you have identified opportunities, it’s important to validate that these are indeed true and tested opportunities. One method to support in doing this is Assumptions Mapping. Here we’re looking to identify the assumptions we’re making. These are categorised into three areas – Desirability, Feasibility, and Viability. 

Answering questions like: who are my target customers, what technology do I need to make this happen and what legal risks might we face in doing this and mapping these on a board can hugely help in identifying areas which need more research and also which need to be tested. After doing this you will have a list of assumptions that are critical to test before embarking in any new area.

Assumptions mapping

Google offers some good tips on running workshops to help support this process. This resource also includes other methods you may incorporate during your exploration phase. 

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of activities to build out new market offerings, hopefully it gives you some inspiration to start the process. This is a prime time to ensure you’re building to support the future of learning, not just learning as we experience it today. 

Keep an eye out for next weeks blog – 4 Ways for Higher Education to Maximise Success in Online Learning.

Questions about how the KantanMT platform or KantanSkynet can help support your college or university in delivering a multilingual online experience? Email Jim Nolan (