The African Leadership University is Reinventing Higher Education to Train 3 Million Leaders by 2060
Avoiding a global crisis by educating Africa’s next generation of leaders
By 2035, Africa will have the largest, youngest workforce in the world with more than one billion people—a larger workforce than that of China or India—yet its tertiary education systems are ill-equipped to respond to such growth. Only 8 percent of African students are currently enrolled in tertiary education, compared to 24 percent in India and 78 percent in the United States, percentages that will continue to decline if the situation remains unaddressed.
ALU was founded to right these frightening trends by educating “at least three million bold, courageous and innovative leaders by 2060 who will solve Africa’s and, in fact, the world’s grand challenges and capture its great opportunities,” says ALU Chief Technology Officer Aseidas Blauvelt. “We believe that the challenges facing Africa can only be solved by moonshot thinking, which requires identifying problems, finding a radical solution and using technological breakthroughs.”
In 2015, ALU opened its doors in Mauritius and Rwanda, serving several hundreds of students each year—a good start, but not near enough to attain the university’s audacious goal. Blauvelt recognised the need to minimise ALU’s technical inefficiencies by removing siloed applications across recruitment, admissions and the student record-keeping functions. These inefficiencies slowed the process of admitting students, created barriers to onboarding the international student population, limited the ability for any real-time communications with students and made for inadequate record-keeping. Blauvelt remarks that “this patchwork of systems meant we left thousands of prospective students in the application cycle; it was near impossible to manage our student data, and we struggled to comply with data protection policies. Our ability to grow hinged in large part on our ability to streamline these processes.”
Using Salesforce to increase efficiencies and support rapid growth
ALU selected Salesforce “to create a seamless student and staff experience across our campuses; one that provides us a single source of truth across existing and new campuses as we scale,” shares Blauvelt. As a result, the ALU team now has the capabilities to engage with potential applicants, guide current students, foster communities with alumni and other stakeholders, and scale as ALU’s needs evolve.
By using Salesforce, Blauvelt and his team:
- Enhanced the prospective student experience with the use of drip campaigns, landing pages and email nurturing campaigns using Pardot.
- Simplified the post-admission process for newly admitted students with systems for onboarding, including obtaining visas, planning travel logistics and communicating important deadlines.
- Enabled the admissions team to invest a greater percentage of their time on applications likely to be approved by leveraging Pardot’s lead scoring capabilities.
- Can now efficiently maintain student records and protect data in compliance with local and international privacy laws.
- Enabled students to identify internships and study abroad programs via the Career Development Portal.
Integrating Salesforce has allowed university administrators to work toward their growth projections in spite of facing external obstacles related to expansion. “Salesforce has been a critical success factor in our growth. We intend on growing from 900 students in two sites today to 50,000 students across 10-15 sites in five years—Salesforce is one of the critical pieces in making this audacious goal possible,” says Blauvelt.
Moving forward by extending the single source of truth
The quick and effective implementation of Salesforce products has solidified Blauvelt’s beliefs that the university needs one product that ties all of its technological systems. “Our focus in the next five years is to continue to consolidate all systems and programs throughout ALU, and Salesforce will be the centre and single source of truth.” Blauvelt plans to integrate several Salesforce products to cut administrative costs, reduce the cost of tuition and make degree programs more successful.
Some projects in the works include revamping ALU’s student information system with a Salesforce community native system, using Einstein analytics to track important data, starting a parent and alumni portal with Communities, transitioning to Marketing Cloud from Pardot, developing systems for management and finance, and integrating an outside learning management system with Salesforce. “Although we may think our problems are unique, 90 percent of them are solved by an existing solution,” says Blauvelt.
By identifying and utilising the many capabilities of Salesforce, ALU can focus its efforts on its mission to educate students for the betterment of Africa and the world. “We can continue with our unique learning model of teaching students how to think rather than what to think,” concludes Marielle Van der Meer, Vice President of Global Affairs at ALU.
About African Leadership University
Founded in 2015, African Leadership University (ALU) is a Pan-African university with two physical campuses in Mauritius and Rwanda serving hundreds of students from 30 African countries. This start-up university offers unique higher education opportunities for students by teaching them leadership, entrepreneurial, problem-solving and learning skills that will solve challenges and usher in a global wave of prosperity and innovation. In the next five years, ALU plans to add 10-15 more satellite campuses and grow its student population to 50,000.