Education consulting firms – and education consulting as a whole – aren’t as flashy or popular as strategy consulting, but they play a crucial part in advancing or responding to the disruption happening in the education world today. As such, education consulting is a sub sector of consulting that is ripe for growth.
Education consulting firms – whether education policy consulting firms, higher education consulting firms, or K-12 education consulting firms – offer services to improve operational processes for educational institutions or companies that serve them. They help ensure maximum cost efficiency, improve student outcomes, streamline governance, and drive fundraising. In addition, institutions often pull on the expertise of education consulting firms to help plan for long-term shifts in the industry.
There are 2 kinds of education consulting firms: boutique firms that only offer education consulting services (like Kennedy & Company or Higher Ed Associates), and management consulting firms that have substantial practice areas dedicated to education consulting (like BCG, McKinsey, or LEK). For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on the latter. Without further ado, let’s get into our rankings of the world’s top education consulting firms.
Top Education Consulting Firms List
McKinsey & Company
It’s no surprise to see the world’s most prestigious firm at the top of this list of top education consulting firms. McKinsey & Company works with education clients as part of its Public and Social Sector consulting practice. Objectives of this work include reforming school systems, transforming higher education institutions, delivering education-to-employment solutions, improving use of education technology, and guiding investment decisions.
Boston Consulting Group
BCG’s Education practice has experience supporting education initiatives at the local, national, and global levels. BCG has helped to improve student-learning outcomes of 2.2 million students in India and partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation to better education in the U.S.
Bain & Company
Bain advises across the education sector with clients in primary through higher education as well as e-learning. Firm objectives include redesigning the university model to make higher education accessible to more students, improving school operations and organizations, and rationalizing traditionally complex organizational structures. One case study from Bain’s work in education consulting: the firm worked with Charles Town High School to improve test performance, quality of life for students and faculty, and attendance (read more).
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EY (Ernst & Young) works with education clients in the public and private sectors and offers services from strategy through implementation and across sub sectors including K-12 system and schools, higher education and workforce development, education service providers, and education transactions. EY-Parthenon, the firm’s strategy consulting arm, has a major focus on education, making it a powerhouse in the space.
KPMG is a top education consulting firm that works across the education sector to serve K-12, vocational education and training, and higher education clients, as well as strategic planners and funders. Common services include budget and financial management, organization development, audit, organization development, cost reduction, and research. KPMG puts its higher education consulting work under its Higher Education, Research & Other Not-for-Profit (HERON) practice. In addition, the firm recently joined UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition.
L.E.K. Consulting’s Global Education Practice (GEP) serves the education sector through corporate growth strategy, mergers and acquisitions, marketing and student recruitment, and organization and performance. The firm conducts consulting engagements across the globe in all education segments – from early childhood to K-12 to higher education. LEK Consulting is one of the world’s top education consulting firms because of a combination of advanced analytics, robust strategy, and deep industry experience.
Deloitte offers a range of higher education consulting services in the areas of financial and operational efficiency, technology transformation, student experience, cyber risk, and organizational leadership. Deloitte’s education consulting engagements run the gamut, from large institutions to small liberal arts colleges to academic medical centers to community colleges and more. The public sector group also works with other education clients outside of higher education.
PA Consulting Group
PA Consulting Group identifies as a nontraditional consulting firm that focuses on innovation for good. The firm’s education consulting practice focuses on education reform and transformation. PA Consulting has worked on projects including how higher education can thrive post-pandemic and how universities can protect against cyber-attacks. The firm’s clients include Cambridge University and Oxford Brookes University.
Nous Group is an international management consulting firm of 400 employees with offices in Australia, the UK, and Canada. Their work in the education sector has included cost saving strategies for universities, better workload management at schools, and insights on what the global crisis taught universities about higher education. Nous Group works with a range of public, private, and not-for-profit education agencies.
CIL Management Consultants
CIL Management Consultants has a slightly different flavor from the previous firms, because it does work in a number of sub-sectors inside the education space. While it serves education providers (ex: universities), it also works with clients in corporate training, EdTech, and skills training. The firm helps its clients identify strategies for growth and improve competitive advantages.
Tyton Partners gets an honorable mention as a top education consulting firm, in part, because of its unique makeup as a combination of investment bankers and strategy consultants. This combo allows the advisory firm to advise educational institutions with a unique set of capabilities. Tyton Partners provides the strategic insight, capital expertise, and creativity needed to help drive growth for its clients.
Is remote learning a boon or a burden? Are curriculum creators serving the best interests of students by releasing “updated” textbooks every year with little to no real updates? Will EdTech change the way we learn forever? How many universities will permanently close because of COVID-19?
With questions like this facing the evolving higher education market, there are plenty of opportunities for education consulting firms to provide support. If the idea of working to better the education space excites you, education consulting might be right fit for you!
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