Welcome to XOLAS! We are an innovative consultancy partnership helping business schools and universities achieve their strategic ambitions.
Our approach is unique — we provide advisory services informed by advanced data analytics to help our clients rationalize their development plans and performance targets.
Because we care
Business Schools and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are facing a variety of challenges, the most important ones being technology-driven disruptions in teaching & learning, rising financial pressures, heightened international competition, and changing demographics.
The creation of XOLAS reflects the strong personal and professional desire of the founders to guide and support business schools and HEIs in dealing with these challenges. We offer our services “because we care”, because we believe in the higher purpose of higher education and consider business schools as an integral part of this sector.
XOLAS supports clients in strategy development and implementation, in organizational refocusing and restructuring, as well as in targeted efforts to enhance managerial effectiveness. We provide an external market perspective and facilitate the mapping of project outcomes into external recognition by stakeholders and quality assessment bodies.
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XOLAS aspires to be a thought leader in the higher education sector by producing insights on development opportunities available to business schools and universities and challenges facing them. Our research feeds into the development of metrics that link institutional responses to quality enhancement, business and societal impact, market recognition and financial performance.
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At XOLAS, we believe that higher education leaders require sound business analytics to rationalize decision-making and enrich external communication. We apply data analysis to give our clients clarity on market positioning and likely impact of development actions. We build analytic tools that enhance managerial effectiveness, while at the same time targeting compliance of external quality and performance standards.
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XOLAS offers customized coaching to aid the implementation of advisory outcomes delivered to clients. XOLAS further provides turn-key training solutions to business schools, universities and other organizations interested in implementing the design internally or supplying them to their stakeholders. The XOLAS team selectively contributes to the facilitation of professional development offers.
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While the disruptive forces in higher education are creating manifold opportunities for development and growth, they will also expose some institutions to crisis and financial distress. XOLAS offers its competencies in risk and restructuring advisory to help clients address these challenges from a strategic and operational perspective.
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XOLAS Advisory Services
The XOLAS advisory offer is based on a three-pillar approach: (1) We provide business school clients with an external market perspective of the issue at hand supported by proprietary data analytics and benchmarking, (2) we help our clients to identify sustainable strategic responses and to subsequently design the implementation process, (3) we facilitate and support our clients’ organizational restructuring efforts to achieve revised strategic ambitions and performance targets.
XOLAS Knowledge Solutions
Knowledge solutions strengthen advisory competencies of XOLAS as well as its visibility in the business school and university community. We organize workshops, produce occasional white papers, and publish books and articles in practitioner media and newspapers. We broadly engage in a dialogue with the business school community by disseminating knowledge outcomes via social media, conferences, webinars and any other means available to us. We partner with other organizations of high repute with a shared topical interest.
XOLAS Intelligence Solutions
Our emerging portfolio of business intelligence tools is a key driver of XOLAS advisory. It enables clients to adopt a business-analytic approach to quality improvement and enhances their credibility when seeking market recognition. We pursue tool development synergistically with XOLAS knowledge solutions with current focus areas being performance controlling, competitive benchmarking, and impact measurement.
XOLAS Training Solutions
XOLAS training solutions are built around developmental challenges facing higher education institutions and aim to enhance the organizational agility of our clients. Target groups can be executives occupying specific functional roles or project teams tasked with strategy implementation. Training solutions linked to advisory take on the form of coaching.
XOLAS Financial Advisory
Restructuring requires access to additional funding and possibly a change of ownership. XOLAS accepts sell-side as well as buy-side mandates to connect business schools and universities with financial and strategic investors. It can also provide interim management coverage and can facilitate turn-around management and workout processes.
Strategic Partnership with STUDYPORTALS
XOLAS proudly announces its strategic partnership with STUDYPORTALS. The collaboration is aimed at complementing each other’s strengths in benchmarking for business schools and data analytics for universities. The collaboration will primarily be aimed at business schools, matching institutional strength with real-time international student interest. Together, XOLAS and STUDYPORTALS will develop advisory solutions to enhance and promote the internationalization of client institutions, enable better targeting of recruitment markets, and help to improve faculty and student quality.
Member of AACSB International
XOLAS is a member of the world’s largest business education alliance, AACSB International. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) connects educators, students, and business to achieve a common goal : to create the next generation of great leaders. Synonymous with the highest standards of excellence since 1916, AACSB provides quality assurance, business education intelligence, and professional development services to over 1,500 member organizations and more than 785 accredited business schools worldwide.
partners & team
As founding partners, we combine many years of professional experience in higher education and bring a range of complementary competencies to bear when interacting with our clients.
We work with a network of independent consultants and seasoned university executives enabling us to deliver speed and scale when addressing our clients’ needs.
Mathias Falkenstein has over 20 years of experience in higher education management and consulting universities and business schools around the world in designing and implementing institutional change, with particular focus on issues of sustainability and responsibility; quality management and internationalization. Mathias founded the Higher Education Management Group, a Berlin-based consultancy and he currently serves as Executive Policy Advisor at LUISS Business School, LUISS University (Italy). He is a member of the EAIE General Council and also chairs various advisory boards of business schools and universities.
Mathias’ previous professional assignments include Director of Business School Services EFMD and Director of International Relations at IÉSEG School of Management in Paris & Lille. He previously was Director of FUBiS, the International Summer University at the Free University in Berlin and started his career in higher education as a Program Officer at the North American headquarters of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in New York. Mathias holds a DBA in Higher Education Management from the University of Bath (UK), where he is a research fellow at the International Centre for Higher Education Management (ICHEM).
Within XOLAS, Mathias advises clients in their strategic repositioning, quality management, internationalization, and the expansion of sustainability & responsibility coverage. He also contributes to the development of knowledge, training and intelligence solutions.
Ulrich Hommel is an internationally recognized expert of accreditation, quality management, risk management and strategic leadership in higher education, and a prolific writer on business school topics. He has served in various leadership capacities at EFMD over a period of more than 12 years, including Director of Quality Services, Director of Business School Development and Director of Research & Surveys.
Ulrich has completed more than 20 years of service as Professor of Finance at EBS University & Law in Wiesbaden (Germany), which included appointments as Dean, Rector and Managing Director. His academic research focuses on risk management, restructuring and entrepreneurial financing, all topics that mirror his interests in higher education. Ulrich holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and has been awarded a Dr. habil in Business Administration by WHU.
Within XOLAS, Ulrich contributes particularly to the creation of knowledge and intelligence solutions and helps business schools to enhance their risk management capabilities; he develops restructuring solutions for clients and spearheads the development of XOLAS’ financial advisory capabilities.
Benjamin Stévenin is a data management expert with more than 10 years of experience in higher education. He is the CEO of RimaOne, a software solutions provider for the finance and higher education sector. Benjamin is the co-creator of ACADEM, a data management solution to assist business schools with the management of their faculties, research and accreditation processes; ACADEM has so far been adopted by more than 150 institutions globally, many of them holding multiple international accreditations.
Benjamin is a “business builder” that has created a number of other companies before launching RimaOne and co-founding XOLAS. He frequently engages with his clients on strategic issues related to the use of data in strategy and quality management. He speaks regularly at international conferences and has co-developed training programs related to smart data and quality management with one of the leading international accreditation bodies.
Benjamin is the co-creator of ACADEM, Benjamin has more than 10 years of experience in higher education and the work with his clients regularly includes strategic issues related to quality management. Benjamin speaks regularly at international conferences
Within XOLAS, Benjamin spearheads the development of intelligence solutions and advises clients on the implementation of smart data management in support of quality enhancement and strategic positioning of our clients. He also supports the development of XOLAS’ financial advisory activities.
Fiona Hunter has worked in the global higher education sector for over 30 years in a variety of different academic and management roles. She is now a consultant, trainer and researcher with private, public and faith-based institutions around the world and her work focuses mainly on strategic change and internationalisation of both academic and management processes.
She is also Associate Director at the Centre for Higher Education Internationalisation (CHEI) at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy, Visiting Tutor at the University of Bath in the UK, member of the International Advisory Board at the Universidad de Granada in Spain, member of the Scientific Council of AVEPRO (Holy See’s Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion of Quality in Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties) and Co-Editor of the Journal of Studies for International Education (JSIE). With Neil Sparnon, she is co-author of the forthcoming book ‘The Illustrated Guide to Higher Education Management: For New Leaders and New Institutions’. She holds a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Higher Education Management.
Neil’s initial experience was as a programme manager with the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. He joined Anglia Ruskin University as its Director of Research Administration in 1996, holding several positions and culminating in Assistant Registrar. He became a full-time consultant in 2008 in higher education and strategic management and has worked with multiple institutions in Europe, Africa, East Asia, the Middle East and North America. Between 2012 and 2017, he was a member of the academic team for the International Federation of Catholic Universities’ leadership programme offering development to senior institutional leaders. With Fiona Hunter, he is co-author of the forthcoming book ‘The Illustrated Guide to Higher Education Management: For New Leaders and New Institutions’. He holds a PhD in modern UK/US/European studies.
François Thérin has 25 years of progressive leadership experience in higher education in 6 different countries, including Dean’s and Director’s positions in Europe, South-East Asia and the Middle East, giving him direct exposure to the higher education landscape in these regions. François has worked in small and large universities and business schools.
His areas of expertise are in strategic change, revenues generation, internationalisation (onshore and offshore), research optimisation, new programs development, and accreditations (national and international). He has consulting experience with business schools and UN agencies. François holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from Newcastle University (UK), an MPhil from IAE Aix-en-Provence (France) and a Master’s in Management from Toulouse Business School (France).
Claire is the Founder of QACE UP and assists HEIs in their quality management and accreditation goals in a constant evolving landscape. She held the position of Quality and International Accreditations Director at emlyon business school (France, Lyon) for years. She also managed teams within the executive education offer (customized programs). Her expertise was also appreciated within the Faculty management team in the recruitment processes and data management. Claire was also teaching French in Australia for a year and English at a master’s level in France. She graduated from the University Lyon III with a Master’s degree and is currently attending an MSc in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at HEC Paris.
Before working in Higher Education, Claire developed her skills in data management and Quality in the medical industry as she was in charge of quality audits (both internal and external ones) and reported to European medicines evaluation agencies. She also worked at euronews to help the distribution of the channel in Eastern countries and clean databases to improve quality services.
Koen Vandenbempt is the Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Antwerp (Belgium) and is furthermore a non-executive director of the Antwerp Management School (Belgium). He has held various leadership positions in the past (among them Associate Dean for Internationalization, Academic Director of the eMBA Program, Chairman of the Department of Management), both at the University of Antwerp and the Antwerp Management School. Koen is also a Visiting Professor at universities and business schools in the USA, Russia and India.
His work focuses on strategic change in organizations (mainly in industrial and technical settings) and in different industry contexts. In this capacity, he often works together with companies on change projects and/or is involved in management training sessions in the context of change. He is and has been involved as an independent director of companies in different industries (IT solution provider to the creative industries; Diamond Certification; Diamond federation; Higher Education).
International Student Recruitment in Times of Global Crisis – Strategies that business schools can apply to admissions, innovation, and risk mitigation
By Mathias Falkenstein and Thijs van Vugt The current global crisis is strongly affecting the higher education industry, and nowhere is this more evident than in international student recruitment. The worldwide lockdown has thrown management education into...
Faculty is considered a key if not the most important strategic resource of a business school (or any academic institution for that matter). At the same time, business schools suffer from a very fragmented understanding of their faculty’s competencies, track record...
Many schools use data-driven business intelligence to analyze their markets and their competition, but they could do so much more with data. Smart data analytics combines an in- and outward focus of analysis as well as a top-down and bottom-up approach in strategic...
The current global crisis is nowhere else more eminent than in international student recruitment. The worldwide lockdown has thrown everything into question about the future of international student mobility, starting with the intake of autumn 2020. During our panel...
Ulrich Hommel explains why universities need to sharpen their awareness of Gray Rhino risks, i.e., risks that are clearly visible but ignored until they are materializing themselves as costly shocks. COVID-19 is a perfect example and post-crisis risk management...
Eindhoven, 28 February 2020 – STUDYPORTALS and XOLAS are starting a collaboration aimed at complementing each other’s strengths in benchmarking for business schools and data analytics for universities. The collaboration will primarily be aimed at business schools,...
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