“Marketing in a Higher Education
Dissertation Presented for the Degree
of MSc in Marketing and Business
I would like to thank my supervisor, Professor Jake Ansell, for all his support and encouragement during this challenging dissertation period. My gratitude also goes out to all academic and support staff of the MSc Marketing and Business Analysis course for what was an educational stimulating academic year. All the knowledge passed on and assistance given formed a solid foundation that was invaluable during the course of working on this dissertation.
I would like to also like to take this opportunity to extend my appreciation to my family members, course mates and friends, who acted as pillars of strength by continuously keeping check and giving out words of encouragement during the dissertation phase.
The nature of the rapidly changing Higher Education (HE) industry has forced universities to implement more innovative marketing strategies. In order to remain competitive, there is a need for universities to not only engage in marketing strategies that are relevant to the existing HE context, but also be aware of foreseeable changes that are taking place to enable them to alter their positions and adapt smoothly without being left behind. This study investigates the marketing strategies employed by the College of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Edinburgh and the relevance of these strategies in the context of the fast-moving HE industry. Three main areas were studied in the literature review- demands of the industry, current marketing philosophies and practices within the industry and trends that likely to shape the future of the industry. A proper understanding of these areas is important as it used as a comparative yardstick to evaluate the College’s existing strategic position and the direction it is heading towards. Qualitative research was used given the exploratory nature of the study that aimed to uncover thoughts, experiences and ideas of respondents. In-depth interview was used as the main research method as there was a specific need to gather detailed information from select-few respondents based on their job expertise. On a smaller scale, focus group interviews comprising students were also conducted as a complementary research to generate their perception and views regarding the Higher Education Industry. Upon analysis, discussion of the findings was divided into three sections based on their relevance to the research questions and the gaps observed in the literature review. The key findings was that the general philosophy of the College’s marketing is in line with the existing standards expected of the HE, but there is inadequate marketing for undergraduate levels which was brought about by an arguably false interpretation of high demand. The study also shows that there is under-utilization of the role of student ambassador and lack of gender-based marketing, both of which were identified in the literature as important in keeping up with fiercer competition and addressing challenges of the future. In terms of fee structure, high-income household students are expected to pay the largest share of costs because of their ineligibility to apply for most loans and grants. However, they are seen to be willing to pursue HE studies and view it as an investment for a better career. Low and
middle-income household students, although are not affected much at undergraduate level, are likely to seek employment after their studies instead of commencing a postgraduate degree.
The findings and analysis brought about several recommendations which include focusing on international marketing to increase the level of international students, hence generating higher revenues that could be channelled at funding purposes for postgraduate level to increase participation of low...