There are various ways and kinds of competing one to another, one institution to another, or a college to a college. In case markets grow, the competition is usually based on the variety of offerings and quality and scope of functions and features on offer. For mature and declining markets, cutthroat competition may easily tarnish decent business models and turn them into markets for lemons. Competing against each other follows the assumption that a market is a zero-sum game.
Since 1970s, the key topic for universities has not been the issue of academic freedom and rather liberal approach to the purpose and place of universities in the modern society. Higher education has gone a long way from being exclusive to a few to get inclusive for many. Developed societies are facing declining birth rates reflected in decreasing nation-wide admission figures, in a situation where new tertiary education institutions pursuing new business models (especially in distant and blended learning modes) spring up like mushrooms and where the entire college education became global.
In last forty years and perhaps most considerably in the last decade, accountability and compliance of higher education institutions to governments and greater public have gained a prominent role. Instead of being just arenas for (free) thought, tertiary education institutions have transformed into professionally governed institutions driven by objectives and goals. Institutional goals and objectives need to be aligned to their missions. However, top down instructed goals prescribed by policies and various regulatory bodies may easily become the ultimate mission per se. Long has been known: what you measure is what you get.
As a result, higher education institutions in many countries are standing at crossroads and face various challenges. Confusion between attainment of education (i.e. knowledge, skills, and competences) and attainment of a diploma has produced degree mills. Confusion between cost efficiency and affordability (whether for students or for governments) has led to mass education (whether mass online courses or large classes), in which both degree majors and minors tend to be shallow and non-specific (in preparation for the ever changing flexible future, in which thorough understanding is no longer an asset). Emphasis on academic performance and output based publishing takes its toll on desire to promote student learning. Higher education institutions in search for increasing student figures lower admission criteria and seek to churn out graduates faster. Some 56 years later, if John F. Kennedy was speaking to college freshmen, he would have to substantially alter his famous speech: You choose to go to a college, not because it is hard, but because it is easy.
Some colleges decided to actively promote how student-friendly one get a degree. Marketing messages focus on fast, fast-track, accelerated, cheap, easy-to-get qualifications, automatic admission, two degrees at the same time and other claims actively tarnishing the value of higher education and bringing the sector ever closer to the blurry fine line between honest and dishonest signals (a.k.a. signaling theory). In times where facts are promoted as “true facts” and lies have been relabeled to “alternative truth”, toxic and dishonest marketing messages may easily poison the entire business domain and lead to a juxtaposition of goals and purpose.
In many If colleges start racing to the bottom, it will produce lasting damages to previous graduates, local communities, employers, stakeholders and higher education institutions themselves. On top of that, the eventual winner of the race will find fast diminishing returns. The entire sector of higher education may find itself in the middle of the major slide down and eventually dry up for a period of time. Let us search for sustainable value proposition for colleges as well as for other businesses in the upcoming Spring issue of Marketing Science & Inspirations.
Dosáhnout vrcholu: Jak mohou univerzity klesat ke dnu
V rámci konkurenčního soupeření existuje několik strategií vedoucích k úspěchu. V situaci rostoucích konkurenčních tlaků v současně klesajícím trhu je jednou z možností zahájit útok pomocí nižších cen. Je reálnou možností, že se instituce terciárního vzdělávání v mnoha zemích začínají stávat součástí takové dovnitř se hroutící sestupné spirály, kde neustálé snižování nároků pro vstup i absolutorium studijního programu povede k vytvoření defektního trhu. V marketingové komunikaci institucí terciárního vzdělávání je proto nutno uvážlivě používat výrazy, které vytvářejí dojem, že studium je snadné, rychlé a bezpracné. Studium, které od studujících nic nežádá, může mít jakoukoli cenu, ale nemůže mít žádnou hodnotu.