Iyere Theodore, Olu Akeusola, Omolara Daniel.
Education is now a global product with institutions worldwide competing for students and finding ever more creative ways to satisfy student needs and preferences. The optimism and belief in educational progress has gingered the new wake of marketing approaches that boarder on how to properly deal with the intricate issues of qualitative educational service, value as well as customer satisfaction. With the continuing rise in the preference for flexible distance learning, educational institutions are finding that when students and faculty have significantly different cultural backgrounds and learning styles that the expectations of the learning experience can be unfulfilled. Today in Nigeria, education is the responsibility of government, religious organizations as well as private individuals, although in recent years, the private sector has entered the market providing educational services at all levels. There are over 90 universities in Nigeria with more than 2.000.000 students enrolled in these universities. Of these students, less than 100,000 are registered in the National Open University of Nigeria which is the largest of the universities that provide distance education in the country. With such large student numbers, competition between the public and private universities for students has intensified particularly over the last decade. As a consequence, the need to develop strategies for attracting students has become more important. The contribution of technologies to education processes has been immense with students and faculty each learning to adapt to an environment of continuous change and opportunities. This paper therefore, seeks to explore the marketing approaches that could galvanise the growth of the Open and Distance learning institutions, and is subsequently predicated on the view that a competitive advantage in marketing of the Open and Distance learning programmes can be attained by customizing learning experiences for students in a pro-active and constructive way.
The fast competition that is taking place in the current global market has affected the educational sector. In Nigeria for instance, it has been observed that when education is taken for granted not only the state institutions providing conventional education are prevailed. Starting from the early 1990’s higher education has been provided by either public or private universities either conventionally or extensively. The increase in the products and services that are provided by different parties has affected the educational institutions and the power of marketing communications is utilized in order to pull more customers both by private and state institutions. The marketing of education is a controversial issue. Although the opinions on the signification of the educational institution as a product and the students as the customers still remains arguable the transformation of the instruction process as a student-based model requires the utilization of the marketing opportunities are used. Teaching has been increasingly developed as a learner-centered model, shaping the process as a life-long learners experience to match their existing knowledge and skills is crucial. At the open and distance education institution level, being market oriented means adapting a client-centered perspective and managing the institution in a way that matches the needs of primary and secondary clients. This student-based model is not much different than the client-based utilization of marketing strategy. In the marketing approach, the needs and desires of the customers are given a primary and major importance so they are treated as “kings”. When this strategy is employed in the open and distance education, the course...