Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Higher Education Marketing with a Difference... Differentiation

Where shall I go to university?
How do you differentiate one university over another? Ask any senior marketing professional in the Higher Education sector and they’ll recognise the importance of differentiating what their university has to offer over that of another. Yet the truth of the matter is that, as soon as you look past a university’s location, upon first glance many universities can appear to be very homogenous and indifferent from their rivals. Of course, universities are defined by the types of courses they deliver, but a prospective student will often know what course they want to study, so it then becomes a question of how to differentiate your university over those with a similar set of programmes.

As the HE landscape continues to evolve and students become a far more discerning set of consumers, HEI marketing professionals recognise the need to demonstrate the benefits of what makes their institution stand-out from the competition. And to do this, key performance indicators, such as satisfaction or employability levels, are often used as a means to highlight a good return on a student’s investment. Of course, this is very important to do and something the government has advocated, which is only too evident through the introduction of Key Information Sets. But, if all universities are making similar claims, can they really be used as a means to differentiate? And besides, surely with so much data now available for prospects to sift through, this only leads to more confusion?