The ever-changing scopes of trade and marketing have altered business operations across many sectors such as college education (Joshi, 2005). The world economy has been globalized in many different ways and the ever emerging market instruments have altered the scope and nature of education-resource management and learning-centered marketing in many different countries. Indeed, globalization in education has increased exchange of ideas and market expansion for many schools and universities in many countries like Australia and its trade-blocks. In many different ways, various marketers have argued that the practice of restricting a school’s client base to the notion of ‘‘nation-state’’ and traditional methods of education is nearly being overturned by the current trade patterns and market-driven educational demands (Kegan & Wagner, 2006).
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In a nutshell, the findings of this research have justified the often-mentioned empirical conclusion that the scope of higher education is changing. What has come into view is that various economic demands and enabling socio-political atmospheres as well as the widespread adoption of technology have created new platforms for local and international educational processes and needs for the modern-day university. Clearly, the Federation University Australia (FeUA) seems to have recognized that a school’s visibility and marketing progress are limited when it faces its challenges as a single entity and within the traditional measures of education. Two, while the school still needs to improve on its teaching strategies, the marketing practices and students’ demands seem to have changed in Australia’s educational sector.
These changes have affected marketing trends and student options in relation to the school’s local and international educational challenges. Three, schools such as the Federation University of Australia are now positioning themselves as entities propped up by the desire to achieve higher levels of market competiveness and more international relevance. Indeed, in the new international trade environment and educational processes, service provision in many schools has become unavoidable targets for the widely-acclaimed purposes of value addition. Unsurprisingly, however, some marketing (learning measures) and perception-boosting plans have not led to the desired outcomes. Four, based upon the scrutiny of various valid responses, it is evident that the majority of the sampled population had issues regarding the manner in which the teaching methods, as marketing strategies for the school, are being handled.
Five, the growing relevance of online tutorials and courses in the Federation University Australia is unlikely to be reversed. It appears that a number of students prefer learning through online tutorials rather than attending face-to-face lectures. This reality matches the views advanced by Carr (2011) that the scope and demands of today’s lifestyles, which have been heightened by advanced information technological discoveries and the widespread use of the Internet, are reducing the relevance of face-to-face lectures and communication. Six, there seems to a disproportionate level of satisfaction among students of the Federation University Australia when it comes to learning methodologies. On average, it appears, only 46% out of the customers (students) sampled were fully satisfied with the quality and standards of services they received from the school’s face-to-face and online teaching methods.
Seven, measures such as the use of technology, lecturer-resource references, integration of various teaching methods, delays in graduation for some students, student learning pressures and availability of critical reading materials as well as the lack of timely educational programs responses are generating controversies.
Research Topic and Questions
In many ways, a range of policies have been formulated to address the ever-deteriorating educational standards of schools in many parts of the world (Moll, 2004). Partly, these polices have been tailored around marketing and service provision aimed at boosting students’ perceptions of their learning institutions (Ravenscroft, 2007). Like in most business entities, organizations within the education sector require well-thought-out measures to enhance their overall success (Kegan & Wagner, 2006). In fact, for many businesses, strategies relating to the manner in which marketing and perception management are developed achieve competitive advantages (Babin, Lowe, Ward, Winzar, & Zickmund, 2014). In the end, as an element of education-change-management measure, many researchers have suggested that various strategies should be embraced to create many graduates who are better equipped for gainful employment and improved college attendance (Zwick, 2004).
However, what has clearly emerged is that actions aimed at improving student enrolment rates and college ‘‘turnouts’’ have not always produced the desired levels of student perception and growth in many schools (Moll, 2004). In spite of this acclaimed opinion, many recent and past researches indicate that there is a relationship between improved learning-based marketing and student enrolment rates (Ravenscroft, 2007). In a sense, the policy that advocates for an increase in a better student-centered service provision in schools have led to better academic performances and improved enrolment rates in various schools (Zwick, 2004).
To this extent, the number of ‘‘returns’’ for graduates have increased just as there has been a rise in the number of students enrolling in such schools (Moll, 2004). More interestingly, however, is the relationship between online teaching and the adoption of the Internet in boosting student performance and satisfaction. Although concerns around the effectiveness and relevance of such learning measures have been raised in many educational initiatives, the effects that they have on ‘‘traditional’’ university teaching programs continue to create controversies (Albarran, 2013). The extent to which the emergence of online courses continues to influence educational processes against face-to-face lectures is a source of concern.
Progressively, however, it is becoming less necessary for learners to visit ‘‘physical’’ libraries or consult lecturers on a one-on-one basis for their course work assignments and reading needs (Appel, 2011). Today, online students are able to get instant data on nearly all subjects through various search engines like ‘‘Google’’ (Arsham, 2011).
In fact, the emergence of online courses has led to the formulation of various distance learning programs in universities. To this end, the nature of ‘‘traditional’’ universities continues to change (Appel, 2011). According to Arsham (2011), an Internet-addicted student is more likely to ‘‘hop’’ from one e-book website to the other. While this ‘‘multi-screening’’ may be a crisis, it is a suitable way of reading diverse texts at the same time (Henke, 2001). In spite of how some commentators have argued against it, the practice of ‘‘multi-screen’’ reading seems to be an inescapable new learning method in most universities. In any case, many new e-books are encouraging young readers to delve into more published facts (Albarran, 2013).
Based on the emerging research evidence and perceived student satisfaction-dissatisfaction levels at the Federation University Australia, this research paper focuses on a number of marketing issues. The specific research questions include:
- What is the relationship between the various modes of study and student perceptions on learning-service-provision measures within the Federation University Australia? How does this affect marketing measures for the university?
- To what extent is the use of computer-mediated technologies and adoption of the Internet affecting student performance and perception of educational services offered in the university?
- What is the most preferred teaching method between face-to-face lectures and online tutorials as suitable marketing strategies for the school?
- What are the major issues of concern for students in the Federation University Australia?
All these questions are related to the hypothesis that there is a gap between the schools’ teaching methodologies and student’s expectations.
Data Analysis, Results and Discussions
A stratified method of data analysis has been used. This method is suitable because it allows for the subdivision of samples into important variables. Moreover, to achieve a balanced analysis, the paper focuses on evaluating different pieces of information. In some instances, an average of specific data is analyzed. Where necessary, however, an average of such data is tabulated to meet the demands of the study’s main objectives and to answer the research questions. It should be noted from the outset that the information drawn out of the administered questionnaires have been analyzed and evaluated critically. On the whole, most of the questionnaires were found to be valid for analysis. The figure below shows the validity (usability) of the questionnaires.
The Suitability of the Current Marketing (Learning Strategies) for Federation University Australia (FeUA)
Relating to the scope of the research questions, various students of the Federation University Australia (FeUA) are affected directly or indirectly by the marketing strategies (teaching/learning methods) employed by the school. Based upon various valid responses, it is evident that a majority of the sampled population (disaggregated by gender) had various issues regarding the nature and manner in which the teaching methods, as marketing strategies for the school, are formulated and handled. To be sure, many students are reasonably dissatisfied with the way in which some teaching programs such as student-centered assignments are being handled. More than a half of the respondents have various concerns on the seemingly poor manner in which face-to-face and online learning strategies in the school are implemented to achieve their intended goals.
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From the figure above, it is evident that 64% of the respondents’ are concerned with the school’s face-to-face lecture learning (marketing) strategies. This reality raises a number of concerns on the actual suitability of some of the learning methods, particularly lecture-student reference methods used as marketing strategies. The 36% respondents who reported to have been fully satisfied with the used marketing (learning) strategies constitute a very small proportion largely because of the changing needs of university education and student sensitivity to global demands. In any case, the role of online-based learning in increasing the availability of reading materials seems to be affecting the role of traditional-lecture methods in university education (Carr, 2013).
Customer (Student) Satisfaction Levels
The level of satisfaction and dissatisfaction among students of the Federation University Australia seem disproportionate when it comes to learning methodologies. On average, it appears, only 46% out of the customers sampled are fully satisfied with the quality and standards of services they receive from the school’s face-to-face and online teaching methods. A number of reasons should be attributed to this high level of customer dissatisfaction despite the teaching efforts and the seemingly widespread adoption of technology aimed at boosting quality of services. In other words, customer-loyalty services are not at the level where they are supposed to be. The table below shows the aggregated data on student (customer) satisfaction levels.
|Partially Satisfied Customers/Students||35%|
|Fully Satisfied Customers/Students||46%|
|Students/Customers Not Satisfied At All||10%|
|Students/Customers with Indifferent Views||8%|
Fig 3: Customer/Student Satisfaction Levels.
For a school like the Federation University Australia, a total customer satisfaction level of 46% is not good enough for a meaningful future progress and perception-boosting and marketing-enhancement purposes. A total dissatisfaction level of 10% appears to be very high and a clear indicator of the need to analyze the actual causes of the school’s measures that contribute to such customer displeasure. Ultimately, of course, various issues could be attributed to the needs and desires of students in a globally competitive world.
Customers’ Major Concerns
Various issues have been raised by the school’s customers/students. Some of the issues raised seem to be very critical for both the school’s progress and the overall success of other universities operating in Australia. Issues such as the use of technology, lecturer-resource references, integration of various teaching methods, delays in graduation for some students, student learning pressures and unavailability of critical reading materials and lack of timely learning responses in relation to various educational programs seem to be generating controversies.
|Use of technology||39%|
|Challenges of Integrating various teaching methods||10%|
|Inadequate learning responses||6%|
Figure 4: Students’ Major Concerns.
Moreover, even though there seems to be robust research findings meant to benefit the school, problems such as resistance to change, refusal to share information and ideas, school management bureaucracy and the overall cost of implementing some of the research findings could greatly hinder the implementation process. The existence of various student concerns should, however, necessitate that the university’s administrative and teaching staff consider some of the recommendations made in the efforts geared towards making the school more competitive.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The conclusions drawn and the recommendations made in this reflective research are not ‘‘plucked’’ from the air. All of them relate to the study’s empirical evidence as adduced from the study and the relevant theoretical frameworks. Any conclusions or recommendations mentioned here and which might have been mentioned in other researches could only imply that they have stronger empirical justifications. Based on the research evidence and analysis, a number of conclusions can be drawn. One, the major marketing strategies that are used by the school includes the utilization of certain competitive advantages such as location, adequate defensive strategies and the dynamic product management strategies.
Two, it is evident that various components of the marketing mix (4Ps) have been addressed differently by the Federation University of Australia (Moloney, 2006). In a way, the ‘‘product’’ that has been developed by the Federation University Australia ensures that customers’ marketing needs are met to a reasonable extent. Based on the needs of the students, the teaching programs seem to have been developed to realize customized services to clients. However, the school has not responded to the challenges of the prevailing market and needs of the customers. In spite of this, the ‘‘costs’’ of service provision seem to be moderated to ensure that customers are not exploited.
Three, most universities including the Federation University Australia have focused more on the traditional methods of ‘‘training’’ human capital. While the use of lecture methods has been common in many universities, its use in almost total isolation seems to be affecting the desired student satisfaction levels negatively. Three, while the school still needs to improve on its teaching strategies, the marketing practices and student demands seem to have changed.
In order to ensure that actual success and benefits of this research process is attained, this paper makes a number of recommendations. The key recommendations are as follows:
One, the Federation University Australia (FeUA) should establish a task force to assess the various concerns raised in this paper. To this end, the focus should be tailored around service distribution models. The distribution marketing models are different channels that need to be employed in a business to identify how a customer’s needs could be best addressed (Babin et al., 2014). This model is best employed through a market research that identifies the needs of clients (in this case, student) and analyzes the prevailing market trends (Kegan & Wagner, 2006).
Relevant technologies are then designed to meet the identified customer-needs distribution strategies such as the use of brokers and retailers. In the case of the Federation University Australia, the use of student leaders as brokers will be more appropriate. In the end, both indirect and direct marketing distribution channels should be employed by the school (Joshi, 2005).
The implementation of the above recommendation requires special attention because distribution channels are normally aligned to customer-purchase patterns and contexts (Moloney, 2006). For the school, local distribution channels should be planned in accordance with the Australian socio-economic outlook but the international channels should be based on the probability of success in the global sphere. In the event that the scope of the distribution becomes limited to a single intermediary, the use of periodic research findings will be in order. At any rate, the implementation of influential marketing distribution models should result into wider customer bases, better market coverage and increased levels of ‘‘sales’’ (Kegan & Wagner, 2006).
Two, some of the marketing strategies (teaching methods) used by the school and which do not substantially benefit students should be done away with and very competitive strategies put in place. One of the ways to achieve this is by interrogating various integrative strategies employed in educational processes to overhaul the over-use or restrictive use of testing methods. In any case, Zwick (2004) suggests that a test can never be good enough to determine what decision is good for all schools and students.
A case in point is that some tests that gauge a student performance have inaccuracies and are designed to foster learning which is devoid of social, intellectual and emotional developmental aspects in education (Moll, 2004). Studies also show that some tests that evaluate extents of student morale in schools are insufficiently validated and construed. In the long run, students who are exposed to standardized tests only are often inattentive during class lessons and record poor academic performances (Kohn, 2009).
Three, the use of technology as teaching methods should be enhanced. One way through which this should be done is by offering every student with compulsory computer-textbook laptops. In any case, personal student laptop computers have some indispensable advantages. While they limit meaningful evaluation of a student’s achievements, they make learning resources more accessible (Kohn, 2009).
What remains debatable is their responsiveness to today’s socio-economic needs that emphasize assessment-based learning. Despite this limitation, individual student laptop computers enable teachers to make quick follow-ups to ensure that students undertake their assignments. Within a short time, teachers are able to gauge a student’s performance in instructional groups and boost their learning interests within a particular school (Ravenscroft, 2007). Besides, it addresses the problem of up-to-date scarcity of books in most schools (Kohn, 2009). While the use of computer laptops in university education has been controversial, various researchers have suggested that the strategy should be embraced to create graduates who are better equipped for gainful employment and technology-based education (Carr, 2013).
Four, the teaching and learning methods employed by the university ought to be tailored more on Customer Relationship Management (CRM). This implies that they should be student-driven. At any rate, the management of the relationship between a business organization and its customers is one of the very influential marketing tasks. CRM refers to the methodologies, processes, skills, software and at times the Internet capabilities that are always employed for an organization to manage and boost the response of its customers in an organized manner. According to Joshi (2005), CRM helps in the formation of a very individualized relationship between customers and a business enterprise (Joshi, 2005).
Often, such a relationship leads to the provision of high-quality services and products to the most profitable customers. Good CRM ensure that an organization’s employees get timely and vital information regarding the clients’ needs and wants. In the end, the employees (in this case, teachers) will be in a position to work towards responding to clients’ needs (Moloney, 2006).
Besides, there is a need for improved communication strategy. To build strong relationships with customers (students), regular updates on learning methods through the emails and short messages would be appropriate. Moreover, different online-promotional messages could generate better perceptions/attitudes among customers.
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