Role of Private Universities in the Higher Education of Bangladesh: A Case Study on USTC from Strategic Marketing Perspective
The true growth of an economy depends on the development of a nation and its citizens as human resources and higher education plays an inevitable role in such context. Bangladesh is also not an exception to this. At present there are more than 52 private universities in the country. Therefore, now what matters in this connection is not the number but the quality. A good university must ensure quality education for its students. But to be an international standard institution of higher education it is not an easy job for a university. USTC is such a university that has already established itself as a leading private university in Bangladesh with international reputation for excellence. In a decade, it has achieved excellence in education in different disciplines through its dynamic and effective academic leadership. Due to stiff competition in the education sector in Bangladesh, private universities need to prove their quality and should develop constructive and effective marketing programs and strategies for the purpose of survival as well as expansion.. Marketing products and marketing services are different. Some principles are the same, but marketing educational services need to consider many additional factors, changing the emphasis in some areas. It is not appropriate to use a products model for services marketing, as many of the additional concepts and principles, only applicable to marketing educational services, may be ignored or forgotten. This is because a strategic marketing approach has been followed to reveal the real scenario and condition in one hand and suggest the appropriate marketing strategies on the other hand. It is important for USTC to incorporate business acumen and marketing without delay. USTC is beginning to experience the reality of the world of business and finance and, as the competition increases, the aspects such as formulating marketing planning in an appropriate and scientific manner, marketing the right educational services by the USTC, marketing of the USTC must be to the correct customers in the most appropriate places, the price of the educational packages should be right, marketing of USTC should be undertaken at the most effective time, etc., need to be ensured for timely consideration. This research paper examines the present situation of the USTC with a realistic evaluation of SWOT analysis aiming to develop constructive and effective educational service marketing plans, programs and strategies through the careful application and evaluation of strategic models and matrixes. This paper also includes key points which are based upon sound experience. There is a brief outline of the changes in the education sector within the last ten years, which have resulted in the need for realistic marketing. The models used here include Ansoff’s Matrix, Boston Consulting Group’s Matrix and SWOT Analysis to make the strategic marketing plans, programs and strategies suggested for the private university industry in general and the USTC in particular more pragmatic and focused.
Distinguished economists and scientists have alluded to the importance of the growth of human knowledge through formal educational processes that plays significant role in the development of the economy of Bangladesh. Education is, of course, an investment for the future. A country that deliberately devotes a pro-portion of its resources for education and to improve the skills and abilities of its young people expects to see change in its economic and social performance in the years ahead. Education is seen as the essential factor for rapid economic growth and formal education controlled by the state as the indispensable instrument for improving the productive capacities of a population.
Education or human resource development is termed as a powerful tool in achieving the economic development by providing the people with the necessary skills upon which development depends on. It spreads opportunity and creates hope, having a leveling and equalizing effect on society and creating a new class of persons owing their position to education and ability rather than birth. Actually, the purpose of education is to bring economic, social, political, cultural development and also mental, environmental, physical development of human being. It bring changes in human behavior and social mobility. It is the best investment for human being. The public sector institutions of the country are in utter disarray. Regularly increasing demand and inadequate facilities, and additionally the absence of conducive atmosphere in the campuses are driving away large number of students every year to our neighboring country and elsewhere. And, of course, those who can afford are going, and the rest leave their future on to their lucks. In such a frustrating situation, creating private sector facilities, under the provision of the Private University Act-1992, has brought a great relief for the students and their parents or guardians.
Traditionally there has been little competition within higher education systems and it is believed that more intense competition between similar institutions for faculty, students, and resources will help improve standards by rewarding merit and performance. Competition also generally promotes beneficial innovations and overall quality improvements. It is also important to note that competition is exceedingly difficult to achieve through central decree, but requires a high degree of autonomy for academic institutions, allowing them to exploit their strength and overcome weaknesses. Adequate market information is also essential; without it, institutions will continue to thrive even when are weak. Service markets, and in particular educational provider markets, have changed significantly in the last 15 years in Bangladesh. Education providers in Bangladesh face intense competition and must, therefore, take a vigorous approach to marketing. As the importance of higher education increases more and more, it becomes absolutely essential to formulate its overall objectives and goals, content, organization and strategies etc. It is important to integrate marketing into the everyday business of education provision, although marketing is frequently seen as difficult by education providers in Bangladesh.
One of the first actions for any education provider in Bangladesh is to define the term ‘marketing’. Faltermeyer (1994) suggests that many people, involved in the role of marketing, are not only unable to define the term, but generally regard ‘selling’ as being the same as marketing. Leppard and McDonald (1991) suggest that the organizations which attempt to subscribe to a full marketing process will be further along the pathway of evolutionary development, in terms of likely success for the education provider. It is important to remember that, although an education provider may have a marketing consultant, leader and/or co-coordinator, marketing is part of the role of all staffs employed in the organization (academic institution). If the USTC intends to be successful, and remain so in the competitive market, it needs to develop its marketing strategy carefully. When customers (students) begin to realize that other organizations (private universities) are able to deliver high quality courses at prices (tuition fees and other charges) lower than those of the USTC, business will be lost. It is, therefore, vital for everyone in the private university industry in general and USTC in particular to possess and implement the marketing philosophy in their areas of concentration and to be student centric.
2. Review of Literature
The positive role of private Universities in the higher education in Bangladesh is now undeniable (Siddique 2005). The epoch-making Private University Act was passed in 1992. To meet the increasing demand for higher education and develop skilled, efficient and competent manpower the then Government felt the need for establishing private universities and approved the Private University Act 1992. Islam S. (2003) states that education was seen as the essential factors for rapid economic growth and formal education controlled by the state, as the indispensable instrument for improving the production capacities of a population. Most countries of the world are now facing the dilemmas of having to satisfy the need of the increased demand for education (Islam S. 2003). Higher education system needs to be flexible if they are to be the most effective (Muzaffar A.T. and Khan A.H. 2004). Education systems need to be able to adapt quickly to changing enrolment levels, to the rise and fall of different fields of study and to changes in the mix of skills demanded in the labor market. Muzaffar and Khan (2004) also argued that open systems are more likely to keep pace with significant external changes.
Field (1991) indicated that the marketplace philosophy will be a necessity in education. Matin M.A. (2003) mentioned that still there is the necessity of many more private universities in the country, but they must not be allowed to grow in an unplanned way’. It should be noted here that all the private universities operating in Bangladesh must take into account ethical considerations when developing their marketing plans and programs. Education providers provide various services to the students (customers) and they need to apply marketing tools and techniques at various levels. According to Kotler (1991) services marketing is ‘... any act of performance that one party can offer to another that is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of any thing...’ However as Kotler goes on to argue, no product is sold within the market place without an element of ‘service’ which may comprise a major part of the actual offer. Giles (1990) suggests that in market economy countries, the service sector has increased more than other industries. Stanton (1978) and Cannon (1986) indicate that the service is the central point of any marketing, i.e. the precise ‘product’ that the business is selling. There is, therefore, a wide variety of definitions. Stanton (1981) omits areas, such as credit facilities, from his definition. However, education providers may include credit facilities as an optional strategy to boost their uniqueness and the range of benefits that they can offer to the customer (student).
An important point that needs recognition is that, if an organization wishes to be ‘market driven, it must be close to the customer. To do this effectively, it must adopt the principles of marketing. Levitt (1960) argues that satisfying the needs of the customer will create a cyclical process, which will generate further demand for the courses on offer. This parallels the Donabedian (1966) cycle of quality: product-process-outcome and, indeed, the work by Gronoroos (1984), who identified that there were three dimensions of service quality: outcome-process-perception. Both Lovelock (1984) and Bateson (1989) contend that marketing services in the not-for-profit sectors and marketing services in the profit sector are substantially different, in that the objectives of the organizations will produce marketing programmes which are manifestly diverse. Services are identified by four characteristics that differential them from products. Zeithaml et al (1990) and Beaven and Scotti (1990) identified these characteristics as (a) intangibility (b) perishability (c) inseparability and (d) heterogeneity. Some authors consider a fifth characteristic, the issue of ‘ownership’ (Lovelock, 1984; Cowell, 1991). Many leading authors suggest that there are limited applications for using a traditional marketing model for services (Shostack, 1977; Gronroos, 1978; Lovelock, 1981). They argue that the models, or tools, used for products cannot be simply transferred to services. Octon (1983) states that to define a not for profit sector organization is rather difficult, and such departments within universities need to make a profit in order to remain viable. With the ever increasing demands on the Universities budgets, cost effectiveness is clearly on the agenda.
3. Rationale of the Study
In the business strategy of any service provider organization, be it profit related or a not-for-profit sector organization, there are fundamental requirements. The USTC must develop an effective marketing strategy so that its objectives are clearly focused and the customer segmentation it intends to serve is appropriately identified. Within this ‘marketing strategy’ or ‘marketing plan’, the organization should be able to define its competitive edge, i.e. what advantages it has over its competitors. This marketing plan will also act as a set of sales forecasts and a budget by providing a solid framework for the marketing activities of the USTC. To adopt such a strategy means that the personnel required to develop marketing plans based on the expert knowledge and experience regarding the market issues, such as the competition, the customers and the best way to provide and consolidate the niche in the market that has been recognized. Unfortunately, as education providers in Bangladesh move into the business arena, there is tendency to believe that no additional guidance or support is required to undertake this co-ordination and lead in marketing. This may then lead to marketing being conceived as a separate function, which has nothing to do with the achievement of the corporate business strategy and therefore, the mission statement. Moreover it is assumed that present marketing strategies of USTC is not up to the mark to gain competitive advantages in the very dynamic and challenging market. Considering the present condition and the importance of marketing this paper will emphasize on the development of a service centric comprehensive and constructive strategic marketing approach, policies and active plans.
4. Objectives of the Study
The objective of the paper is to bring into focus the marketing issues that need to be taken into account by the private universities in general and the USTC in particular. It will investigate the prevailing marketing system, as employed by the USTC and how to utilize the strengths and opportunities and deal with the recent problems related to marketing and business.
5. Scope of the Study
The present study is confined to the review of the present condition and formulation of a marketing plan for the USTC. The study will not be limited to the present data alone. The future growth of the USTC will be given due consideration. The limit of the future growth of the study will be decided by mutual agreement between USTC and the management of research team. Although the USTC is facing problem from the various types of management, administration and marketing issues, this paper will concentrate only on the strategic issues of educational service marketing. The study area will be limited within Chittagong and Dhaka. However, the study will include all the faculties and departments of the USTC to make the study more pragmatic and focused.
6. Methodology of the Study
The study is based on both the primary and secondary data for an in-depth survey of various departments of the USTC. A sampling plan and questionnaire have been prepared for the collection of the primary data. Secondary data available in the various research reports and the data base of the USTC have also been considered. Questionnaires have been distributed to the randomly selected students, officers, teachers, administrator and other important stakeholders of the USTC. Interview of intellectuals, people from various professions will help evaluating their opinions on problem that they face in the USTC and other private universities in Bangladesh. The students under a course work assignment have been divided as field workers into a number of groups to visit various departments and faculties for collecting and recording the opinions of the concerned and evaluating their operations and marketing functions. In the study to develop effective and comprehensive marketing programs and strategies, the BGC Model, Anosoff’s Matrix, and SWOT Analysis have been conducted.
7. Scenario of Higher Education in Bangladesh
Most of the higher education providing institutions in the developing world are in the public sector. They are built, financed and staffed by the government. Since about 1950 there has been a rapid acceleration in the rate of growth of demand for educational services at all levels, the most notable at the level of higher education in the college and university level. In Bangladesh the demand for educational services started increasing since early 80s. As per Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, in 1992 the number of medical colleges, engineering colleges and universities were 17 (Govt. 13, Non Govt-4), all Govt. and 17 (Govt. 11. non govt. 6) respectively. But only a small percentage of these students gets the opportunity for higher education in the country. Besides, vast majority of those having higher education cannot find job opportunity. These clearly indicate the discrepancy between the need and the resources. This is not the whole truth. The education offered today is vastly non-productive. Hence, the existing educational system has produced a large population of educated unemployed.
It is now an admitted fact that no Government can employ all educated people both in the developing and the developed countries. While a country needs a large number of technically qualified persons in the various fields, the number of this group is far too small to satisfy the need of the country. This is applicable for all branches of technical education e.g. medical, engineering, agricultural, pharmaceutical, business studies. In fact in all technical branches need many more qualified personnel than are available today. And yet avenues for education in these specific fields are limited. As a result, the number of Bangladeshi students studying abroad is almost three times more than the number studying in all our Universities, Engineering and Medical Colleges. These are the rich and the privileged groups. They do not suffer the consequences and in fact they take it as a pride to send their boys and girls for studies abroad. Not even for moment they think how much they are depriving the country of the hard earned foreign exchange and degrading the prestige of the nation in the eyes of the outside world. What is even more important is that the outcomes of such ventures are nothing less than fatal for the country. Most of these students who are trained abroad are a great loss for the nation and some of them even hesitate to identify themselves as Bangladeshis. Bringing up in a different cultural environment where family link is too loose and the religious bondage is very weak it is rather too much to think of bringing them back to their homeland.
8. Background of the USTC
The journey of USTC began on May 13, 1989 with the establishment of the Institute of Applied Health Sciences (IAHS) along with 42 students. It continued to function as an Institute under the University of Chittagong. The University of Science and Technology Chittagong (USTC) was established as a full-fledged Private University soon after the Private University Act 1992 came into force when IAHS became its constituent body. The Janasheba Foundation was its sponsoring organization and National Professor Dr. Nurul Islam was appointed as the Founder Vice Chancellor of the USTC by the Chancellor of the University and the President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Since then USTC started functioning with two faculties, namely, the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Basic Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The MBBS and B. Pharm (Hon.) Programs are offered by these two faculties. These two faculties have been doing more than expectations and it is a matter of pride that the USTC has almost 33% foreign students today. The USTC has opened up a new horizon for the business community of the country by launching a new faculty entitled “The Faculty of Business Administration” which is indeed, another bold step by the USTC in fulfilling its mission of expansion of higher education through private initiative. Another Faculty entitled ‘Faculty of Science. Engineering and Technology (Department of Computer Science and Engineering) has been functioning with encouraging response from the students.
As global economies and communities in transition continue to present new challenges to solve, the necessity of lifelong learning continues to grow. Considering this USTC started operating in Bangladesh to develop unique and innovative programs, to provide learners of Bangladesh with new skills and capabilities and to tap into the emerging knowledge of our complex and changing world. The USTC is significantly able to maintain international linkages as well and it also remains solely dedicated to placing knowledge in the hands and minds of the learners.
Sources of Fund and Janasheba Foundation
Over and above the donations received from some philanthropists and the Anwara – Nur Welfare Trust, obligatory contribution by the guardians for the development activities in addition to admission fees have been the financial resources of the institution so far. In order to safeguard the interest and protect the project, the need for establishing a trust (Foundation) was keenly felt. Janasheba Foundation was thus formed and registered with the Societies Act XXI of 1860 in 1991 with National Professor (Dr) N. Islam as its Founder – Chairman. Activities of the Foundation include Community Health, Social Welfare and Technical Education. The USTC is thus a logical outcome of this program.
IAHS/USTC in International Forum
IAHS became reputedly known at International level because of its Founder-Chairman the renowned National Professor Dr. Nurul Islam. In 1978 there was a major International Conference at Almaata which recommended expansion of Community Based Medical Education. The Coordinator of this effort was an organization in the Netherlands namely University of Limberg Mastrichtt City. It formed a Network of Community Based Educational Institutions for Health Science (in short Network). This Network was recognized by WHO and it was engaged in speedy expansion of Community Based Medical Education in the East and the West. The then Secretary – General of this Network Dr. Jacobus M. Gritt invited proposed IAHS to join the Network in October 1985 after hearing about the proposed IAHS activities and programmes from Dr. Nurul Islam Dr. Islam promptly submitted an application of membership on behalf of IAHS to the authorities of the Network. In 1986 the executive Committee of the Network granted Associate Membership to IAHS. That membership prompted the actual establishment of IAHS with the crowned success. In September 1987 Dr. Nurul Islam being invited by the Network attended its conference in Patia (Thailand) and took the opportunity to evaluate the experience of different countries in community based medial education. In 1990 from October 7 to 12 this Network held its “Second International Symposium on Problem Based Learning”. In this conference Prof. Nurul Islam joined along with one teacher and two students from IAHS.
Present Status of USTC
Located at the picturesque site near Foy’s Lake, the USTC has opened up a new horizon for the quality medical, pharmaceutical, business and modern technology education in the country. The primary objectives of establishing USTC are to improve the quality and standard of education in Science and Technology with special emphasis on medical, pharmaceutical and social sciences. It also aims at developing human resources at home and in the developing countries with special emphasis on the South-East Asia. The USTC is now operating through four faculties which are (i) the Faculty of Medicine (ii) the Faculty of Basic Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences (iii) the Faculty of Business Administration and (iv) the Faculty of Modern Science and Technology. The number of students of the USTC is more than 1500 of which more than 350 are from abroad including nationals of India, Jordan, Nepal, Malaysia, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Sri Lanka, KSA, Sadan and UAE. The teacher – student ratio is 1:8 on an average.
The courses offered in the USTC are MBBS, B. Pharm., B.Sc. in Computer Science and Technology and BBA. After passing the final MBBS examination, the doctors get provisional registration with the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BMDC) to take part in one year internship training as intern. After satisfactory completion of the training, they get permanent registration with the BMDC. Having had the privilege of establishing the university with IAHS as its first institute, the USTC did not have much difficulty in expanding its infrastructure. USTC is the first among the private universities which has it own infrastructure facilities including academic building, 250 bed hospital, large ad modern central library with a modern auditorium and two residential halls of which one is for female and the other for male. Female students reside in Gulmeher Hall and foreign students are accommodated in Sayedur Rahman International Hall. The hospital titled Bangabandhu Memorial Hospital is going to be extended into and another 500-bed Unit-II medical complex. Construction work is going to start a second campus of USTC in Dhaka. Side by side within a short time two post graduate programs, MBA and Family Medicine Diploma are now running in the Dhaka Campus.
The academic plan of USTC is based on UGC approved courses and curriculum in which lectures are supplemented by tutorials, demonstrations and practical laboratory assignments. Sufficient lecture halls, tutorial rooms and laboratory facilities are available for all departments. The hospital is recognized by the Bangladesh College of Physicians and Surgeons to offer postgraduate training in Medicine, Surgery, Pediatrics and Pathology. Existing laboratory facilities are as per requirement of the BMDC and are now being expanded for OPD and indoor patients. USTC has academic partnership programmes with several foreign institutions. The USTC central library is going to be the largest medical library in Bangladesh with more than five thousand books, four thousand journals, and other resource materials. A newsletter is published from the library containing news about the university activities and useful information for the general practitioners in easily understandable way for health education.
The focus of USTC education is its MBBS degree which lays emphasis on community exposure from the very beginning. The purpose is to produce physicians capable of working in a rural setup with limited facilities in different social environments. This helps in the growth of leadership among the trainees. The MBBS degree is recognized by the Government of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council, World Health Organization, General Medical Council of Great Britain, Ireland Medical Council, etc. USTC is a member of the International Network of Community Oriented Health Sciences, Maastricht, the Netherlands. And the B. Pharm. Degree is recognized by the Bangladesh Pharmacy Council. The present status and golden success of USTC is achieved by the members of the institution, under the strong leadership of Prof. (Dr) N. Islam.
At present the USTC is a dynamic private university of further and higher education set on an exciting global expansion. It gives the students not only the opportunity to attain an internationally recognized degree but also to grow a knowledgeable and competent individual. This is because students study in a multi-cultural environment and get the chance to have a one-to-one professional relationship with the lecturers and management as a whole. Choosing the USTC today will definitely make the student a better person tomorrow. Since 1992 thousands of students have successfully taken the programs of USTC and utilized their qualifications to reach the highest levels in their chosen professions. A qualification gained through the USTC is a key to a successful and exciting future.
It has been revealed from the study that the journey of the private university industry in Bangladesh is now going through the growth phase of its life cycle. So, a substantial amount of work is required to be done. However, the following points may be considered worthwhile for the successful performance of this industry in Bangladesh.
9.1 To cope with the societal needs and therefore, to become a center of excellence for medicine, hospitality management, business management, marketing, information technology, shipping and the other related fields in the education sectors, a number of creative leaders among the academicians and administrators of the private industry in general and the USTC in particular have to be developed who will actively contribute to learning and creation of knowledge.
9.2 USTC is a truly international institution of higher learning, attracting students from many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. USTC reflects the needs of the global economy and world for well-trained professionals, able to speak English and one or more other languages with a solid International education combined with an international cultural background. Such graduates of USTC have excellent prospects of employment in the reputed companies in the various professions like Doctors, Executives, Pharmacists, Academician, IT Professional and many other professions. Prof. N. Islam wants to ensure that the USTC leading and representing the private university industry will make a significant contribution towards better international understanding by educating students in an international environment and preparing them for international careers.
9.3 The need of the individual student is taken very seriously and every effort is made to create a positive learning environment. Most of the USTC Professors have, in addition to their distinguished academic background, practical professional experience in their areas of concentration. Prof. (Dr) N. Islam is committed that the USTC will not only train and prepare students thoroughly for their future professional tasks, and give them a sound educational background but also will consciously prepare them for their future leadership role. This is achieved not only through special courses and seminars on leadership, but also is emphasized in the context of regular coursework. The faculties and administration of USTC are committed to the goal that students become imbued with the entrepreneurial spirit. At USTC the leader wants to prepare each student to take initiative and venture out on his or her own. The educational effort at USTC puts special emphasis on developing international and cross cultural competencies through acquiring foreign language skills.
9.4 To improve the quality and standard of education in Science and Technology USTC has given special emphasis on the development of sound Computer, Medical, Pharmaceutical and Social Sciences Programs and courses.
9.5 To become a truly international institution attracting students from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds, USTC has already established alliance with the various associations and social institutions of the South-East Asia region and the Middle East.
9.6 All the students both national and international get benefited from the professionalism, knowledge and expertise of the faculty members and administrators of USTC.
9.7 To draw more attention from the students and the society USTC accepts the transfer of credits of the equivalent courses or programs of the UGC recognized universities.
9.8 In its all degree programs USTC has included a wide range of subjects which will familiarize the students with the key aspects of Marketing, Finance, International Relations, Human Resources, Investment and other career enhancing subjects.
9.9 Working as a change agent in the field of academia and profession and playing a pivotal role in shaping the destinies of a large pool of students in Bangladesh, USTC is blending academia and co-curricular activities for creating leaders. The university is also imparting knowledge of the latest theories, techniques and applications for enabling students to succeed in life
10.1 To know regarding the current position of USTC it requires a comprehensive internal and external analysis of the business of the USTC. Combining the internal and external environmental study with a ‘Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats’ (SWOT) analysis will give an internal appraisal of the USTC within the context of its environment. Figure 1 [Appendix] exhibits the SWOT Analysis of USTC.
10.2 Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) Growth Share Matrix
In order to evaluate the overall performance of USTC, the BCG Matrix may be followed. Figure 2.1 [Appendix] exhibits the Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) Growth Share Matrix
This matrix represents the market share (horizontal axis) and the growth rate of the market (vertical axis) that form the two dimensions. This matrix should be used with caution. It may be taken either too lightly, or too seriously, instead of using it as a framework to help the organization to develop its marketing plans. This matrix may be used to establish the market growth rate and the relative market share. It should be recognized that use of the matrix has positive implications for the organization in terms of the cash flow. It should be remembered that cash flow and profits are not the same, and profits are not necessarily an indication of the performance of the portfolio of the various courses within the education provider. This matrix is particularly valuable when exploring the portfolio of courses on offer. Moving clockwise around the matrix, when the course is highly successful, it becomes a ‘star’.
Degrees of USTC that are innovative and in demand include: MBA programmes, Medical Science, Computer Science, etc. They are cost effective as well as profitable although there is usually substantial competition from the rival organizations. If a new program is offered, this is sure to attract competition from other institutions (Wheeler and Proctor, 1993). The next box (Question Mark) represents those programs that are new to the market, but have generated substantial expenditure. To maintain the course may incur considerable costs for the education provider. Relatively non-high demand programs may be included. Gradually, the demand for the program accelerates and it becomes a financial success. The third box (dogs) generates low profits and may be a financial drain on the organization. Figure 2.2 [Appendix] exhibits the Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) Growth Share Matrix of USTC.
Education providers with programs in this box should evaluate whether the program can be ‘shelved’ and the resources used for other educational programmes. The final box is related to ‘cash cows’. These are the programs that are market leaders and include MBA in different specialized subjects. This generates a high demand, but there is relatively little potential for growth. Programs, such as these, should establish a sound financial basis for the education provider and subsidies the creation of new programs, as well as those that are required, but do not, and cannot, justify the large sums of money spent to maintain their educational viability.
The use of such a matrix enables the USTC to determine if it is in a vulnerable position, or whether the portfolio of courses is reasonably well balanced. This internal analysis should be ongoing and not undertaken lightly, or be undertaken at the beginning of a five year action plan and then ignored until the next five year plan is being developed. It is possible for the matrix to be wrongly interpreted. The education provider (USTC) may decide it will invest in a particular course that is not what the customer wants, or it may be too cautious expecting all the programs to be ‘cash cows’ or ‘stars’. The other considerations that should be considered when undertaking this analysis are market share, price competition, the premises, return on assets, the reputation of the education provider and/or educational program, research and development, human resources, sales services, and record of performance.
There is no doubt that the majority of education providers are able to cover many of these topics fully, but the question of market share rarely merits consideration. There is minimal information available on market research conducted to analyze the reputation of the education provider, and whether or not that reputation is justified. One of the most important reasons for using the BCG matrix is to ensure that the USTC is in a position to continually predict the expectations of the market, both in terms of the current market and potential new markets. Birks (1991) also believes that the use of such analysis will enable the organization to forecast and this is particularly true if the marketing effort must work in a volatile environment. Under such conditions, the ability to forecast is vital to an organization’s success.
9.3 Ansoff’s Matrix:
A further model for consideration is the ‘Ansoff’s Matrix’ (Ansoff, 1965). This matrix is a particularly useful and logical framework for detecting new and intensive growth opportunities within the market. The USTC marketing personnel should explore whether programs are being sufficiently exploited in the current market – market penetration – or whether there is the possibility of new markets – market development. Some Private Universities in Bangladesh for example Independent University of Bangladesh (IUB) and University of Information Technology & Sciences (UITS), have seized the opportunity to develop new markets in Chittagong. The provider should also consider whether new programs are of interest to its current customers – program development. Additional areas that could be considered are new programs for new markets. Figure 3.1 [Appendix] exhibits the Anosoff’s Matrix.
The following are some of the questions that may arise when this matrix is being used.
How USTC can increase business?
- Improvement in promotion; how? To whom?
- Change in pricing; increase or decrease? What will the implications be?
- Discounts; to whom? When? Implications of potential discrimination
- Diversify the courses on offer; modularization may mean a student has improved options when taking degree/post degree programmes.
The use of the matrix will help the USTC to decide its marketing objectives. Within all four areas of the matrix, objectives should be developed for each sector. Once decided, consideration can be given to how these objectives will be achieved. To establish a strong portfolio, Kotler (1991) suggests that the education provider should develop a differentiating and positioning strategy. It may be considered that brand loyalty may aid this differentiating, although it is more probable that evidence of the uniqueness of the product, or service, will encourage customers to view it as superior to the competition.
11.1 The whole organization if possible should carry out the SWOT analysis. It must be completed honestly and should raise constructive issues. Using teamwork is the best path for undertaking this analysis, and it should be combined with brainstorming all the issues. It is also an excellent team building exercise. By concentrating on this aspect, issues such as i) current market share ii) size and nature of the customer base, iii) perceptions from the customers to the education provider and iv) resource (human and financial) need to be covered quantitatively and qualitatively.
11.2 Levitt (1960) argues that many organizations find themselves in difficult positions, because they are product focused; i.e. some education providers consider what programs or courses they wish to offer and ignore the needs and demands of the customers. So as the needs and demands from the customer change, business policy and strategy of the USTC must be flexible. There are four key factors that the USTC must take into account:
11.2.1 An increase in the affluent population will not necessarily mean that there is an increase in business.
11.2.2 There will be serious competition for what is on offer.
11.2.3 Consideration and pursuit of economies of scale (i.e. increasing student numbers on courses), thereby reducing unit costs, will not necessarily mean an increase in consumption and an automatic increase in profits.
11.2.4 Continual development of programs or courses without regard for what the market will buy. This preoccupation with the development often results in the neglect of proper marketing research. Courses and Programs are then developed, usually at a high cost, which are not cost-effective in the long-term.
11.3 Giles (1990) suggests that the effects of the organization’s marketing strategy will be enhanced if the customers of education providers have clear impression of the corporate identity. Giles also suggests that the logo of the education provider should be instantly recognizable. So it is clear that corporate image should reflect polices that ensure success for the USTC. The policies could address:
- How the employee will deal with the customer. It is counterproductive to have new or temporary staff in the main reception area, if the existing staffs are unable to use the telephone system, to contact other members of the organization, or are unaware of the business of the USTC.
- Who the major competitors are, and how the USTC will achieve an edge over them. The policy should include the use of standard statements, posted on notice boards, to advice on the availability of its competitors’ publications.
Development corporate image of the USTC may include the following:
- Creating a name that is instantly recognizable and that the public will associate with quality. ‘North South University’, for example, identifies a certain standard of quality.
- A logo that is immediately equated with the education provider.
- The paper, badges, business cards, etc., that will be used by the education provider.
- A definitive brochure or literature that the USTC will use during its promotional phase. This should maintain a consistent quality of presentation and represent what the education provider is saying about itself.
- A consistent house style that is applied to all formal documentation.
- Policies requiring the development of skills, ranging from how to answer the telephone to dealing with the customers (student).
- All staffs who liaise with customers and potential customers should have in house training on the business of the USTC. This will ensure that staff can inform the customers and act as ambassadors, as well as developing an ongoing commitment to the education provider (USTC).
11.4 To deliver effective educational services the USTC should successfully incorporate the code of professional practice in its marketing planning relates to nine aspects of the work of employees which are as follows:
a. Behavior and Personal Development: University employees shall:
- Work to the highest standards, complying not only with the Law (including the law on copyright) but also with internal procedures.
- Conduct their work with a high standard of courtesy and integrity and respect the dignity and privacy of individuals.
- Accept responsibility for their own work and the effective use of the resources entrusted to them and demonstrate, by personal example and ordered approach, the self discipline and conduct expected of the professional.
- Act at all time with the aim of enhancing the good image of USTC.
b. Equal opportunities: Employees of USTC shall promote equality of opportunity for individuals, avoiding prejudice and refraining from discrimination. University employees shall:
- Establish and maintain a favorable friendly working relationship with students to ensure that they learn in an atmosphere conducive to personal growth and development.
- Ensure the safety and well being of those personnel within their responsibility or sphere of influence by adhering to both legislation and relevant internal procedures at all times.
c. Relations with Employing or Client Organization Employees: University employees shall:
- Respect the confidentiality of information gained in the course of work.
- Inform the organization immediately of any personal interest which may conflict with the employer’s interests.
- Act honestly and loyally in carrying out the lawful policy and directions of the organization.
d. Relations with Other Organizations: University employees shall:
- Act at all times in a professional way in any dealings with outside organization/ professional bodies.
- Work to develop harmonious and productive links with outside organizations that may assist in the continued development of educational services and standards.
- Publish on annual prospectus that clearly indicates the courses, qualifications and subjects towards which the University provides tuition.
- Produce on information leaflet containing up-to-date fees, conditions of admission and a refund policy.
- Produce a Student Manual detailing college regulations and other essential information concerning the courses.
- Ensure that all University publications / advertisements are truthful in every respect.
f. Quality Control: Potential lecturers must be able to provide evidence that they can teach the subject(s) offered. Such evidence would include:
i) Academic / professional qualifications in the subjects(s).
ii) References/ testimonials confirming suitability for lecturing in the proposed
iii) Relevant successful teaching experience.
- Registers and records must be kept on students attendance and progress.
- All new faculty must be assessed at least once whilst they are reaching by the Course Tutor responsible for the lecturer’s work.
- New faculty must be supplied with any relevant material available that will help them I the presentation of the subject.
g. Information Given to all Students / Potential Students:
- All students must be given an up-to-date Student Manual and information on their course.
- The students must be informed in the information leaflet what the tuition fees are held in a special account which will be drawn upon in the event of a refund being made. This account will not be used for any other purpose.
- The Admissions Officer will select students on the basis of their eligibility as determined by external/internal examining bodies for their chosen course (in terms of existing qualification) and an assessment of their chances of successfully pursuing it.
- All correspondence received must be answered as quickly and informatively as possible.
- No pressure will be placed on students to follow any USTC course. Students must be allowed to decide for themselves, on the decide for themselves, on the basis of information given by the University whether they wish to attend USTC.
Counseling whether academic or personal, will be conducted in a manner which allows students to decide for themselves the course of action that they wish to follow:
This has been evident from the above study that the development of a country and its economy is dependent on the proper management of the contemporary issues and the success of such issues mostly depends on the development of well trained, educated and groomed human resources. In each of these cases higher study has been remained as a crucial factor over the years and the private university industry just like the other private initiatives of the economy is playing a major role in this context of Bangladesh. This industry is now almost in the growth stage of its life cycle. Therefore, if international standard quality education can be ensured through the analysis of the strategic issues of higher education, then the development of appropriate strategies will be possible. In this regard, the case of USTC with the analyzed matrixes and suggested strategies through this paper may be a glaring example and lesson for the other private universities to develop their marketing plans, programs, and strategies to ensure international reputation for excellence.
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