We can all agree that in the recent years, the world has become a much smaller place. Major innovations in technology and fast-paced globalisation have led to an increased demand for a labour force that has specialised skills. It has become a standard for most multi-national corporations to only consider individuals with a higher education degree with specialisation in a particular subject or skill. But when we consider the reality, all of us can agree that many children around the world do not complete their higher education. There may be many socio-economic barriers that prevent individuals from getting a diploma or graduating from a good college. Some of those issues may be difficult to solve, but some are much easier. To understand this better, we need a good example. We have to consider a country that has a booming population of young individuals, a good economy that is on the rise, yet a very low rate of literacy.
India is the perfect country to be used as an example to explore this subject. It has a population of 1.21 billion with 315 million students. This statistic indicates that there is disparity between the number of eligible students and the fraction of that figure who are actually perusing higher education. Higher education institutions seemed to have failed to inspire students to peruse their studies. They have fallen short of finding effective avenues that could draw a picture of how beneficial higher education could be to climb the ladder in the Indian society.
What measures could universities take to reach out to and inspire students?
To understand the steps that need to be taken to reach more students and encourage them to complete their higher studies, institutions must realise how they have failed in the past decades. The 20th century has been the age of innovation in all sectors of human life. From television to the internet, pioneers have invented platforms to reach and influence the masses. Yet India seems to have missed the train, as it fails miserably to inspire students to enrol in colleges and get a degree. Universities using traditional methods of communication have failed to catch up with the technological innovations like mass media and social networking. First step in making progress is realising that educational institutions have made a mistake by not opting for this strategy to reach out to young students and their parents. Secondly, there are 789 universities, 37,204 colleges and 11,443 stand-alone institutions in India. So it is safe to say that while there are a lot of children looking to complete their education, there is also a high level of competition. Universities have to use every avenue at their disposal to ensure they come out ahead.
Today, managing a university comprises of many more aspects such as quality of education, the human resource aspect and organisational leadership among others. With ever increasing expectations about accountability and performance, one has to constantly adapt to new business models to have an edge over competitors. From tuition affordability to education delivery models, all play a vital role in marketing an educational institution to a large audience.
There are no shortages of challenges in the educational sector
To better handle these industry changes, educational institutions in India should begin to implement a communication strategy by combining the digital technology available with current marketing tools to break down barriers and transform student experience. Marketing of an educational institution compromises of setting up different mediums of communication with the students. Many universities have hired marketing professionals from the corporate world to create a strong institutional brand. Effective and intuitive university websites are considered as the ultimate brand statement. With the recent increase in non-traditional and adult learners, universities need to include recruiting strategies that welcome new students and explain the benefits of higher education.
Digital media platforms
In this digital age, television and online content outplays printed promos and in most cases never fails to get more attention from prospective students than printed material. As more students and parents consume information through digital platforms, it opens doors to reach out to these students.
- Using strategic social media platforms to reach out to young students
- Collaborating with industry experts to include digital marketing in their current strategy
- Use television programmes to share the institution’s vision that will convince parents
- Creating storytelling videos that speak and inspire children
- Give students a glimpse into your university with targeted media programmes
These platforms can be the stepping stone to achieve the visibility for your institute’s greatness factor. We need to understand these avenues better to utilize them to their fullest potential.
Social media platforms
The most significant and cost-effective techniques involve creating better use of popular social media platforms that are already available to the public, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more. Investment is also made in creating and designing blogs and podcasts that better educate both the parents and students. It would be naive to think that only children use social media as it has caught on with all age groups. More and more adults are using social media to get their daily dose of trending topics. Educators have the chance to have one-to-one conversations with their target audience. Students can get relevant information, ask universities any queries they may have, and universities have a better chance of creating an impression in the young minds. Some ways of using social media to engage students and parents would be:
- Small inspiring videos that highlight the greatness factors in schools
- Advertise upcoming events and social programmes
- Publish future plans of education reforms that they would enforce in their institutions
- Showcase a student-centric approach to win over both children and their parents
- Offer online surveys to understand the mind set of students
Advertising on social media is one of the most feasible solutions if institutes follow proper marketing strategies and collaborate with global education think tanks.
Online courses to include adult and long-distance leaners
Online educational institutions have shown that there may be a low-cost alternative to traditional university education. University management can either advertise the importance and the impact of traditional educational models over long-distance learning could be one way to go about it. Incorporating and embracing the new digital age by offering online courses can also ensure that the university is reaching out to a much larger audience which will lead to higher enrolment.
Aspects to consider while adapting a new marketing strategy
If we look at educational institutions today, very few of them realise the enormous potential of choosing the right marketing strategy can have on their enrolment rates. Many of the universities still believe that a good reputation is the only aspect necessary for parents and students to have a favourable view of them. Applying Pascal’s wager to this conundrum could help us understand this better. An argument can be made that even prominent and renowned universities could stand to gain a lot by using television and social media platforms considering the impact they have on the target audience. On the other hand, if an institution chooses to stick to a stagnating marketing strategy and hope their reputation alone can serve as the main proponent; it may stand to lose everything, considering the emerging intense competition in the education sector.
It is better to evolve with the ever-changing education sector by adopting dynamic marketing strategies than to slowly fade out as a consequence of not taking the chance, leaving behind a legacy of a system that finally breaks down after years of decadence.