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International Student Recruitment at University of Wales

(Positioning, Target Market, Services and Advantages)

ABSTRACT:

The higher education market globally is becoming increasingly dynamic and competitive. Options for students have increased at a dramatic rate. The education industry is regarded no less then any other business, prospecting and attracting students from around the world. Consequently, we can say with utmost confidence that it is misleading to separate the word marketing from education industry.

Students have been over loaded with information due to globalization, and realize that to survive in this competitive market, they need to equip themselves with the best knowledge.

INTRODUCTION:

The university once established can serve as an efficient self recruitment tool for students. Universities have been spending so much on recruitment activities but not on the right track. It is essential for universities to help, identify and clarify what their name in particular means and how it is different from other alternatives. The role of a university is to widen horizons and challenge existing paradigms.

This university will pursue these goals in their more traditional sense. However, the uniqueness of the institution means that special focus will be placed upon widening the horizons of its students and raising their own confidence to achieve their full potential. 

The title of the University underscores our commitment to the region within which its campuses are located whilst reaffirming its responsibility, as a university, to the wider academic and international community.

Mazarrol (1998) suggested that higher education is a considerable marketable service and it possess all the necessary characteristics of services identified earlier by Zeithaml et al (1985). Among the characteristics, difficulty in marketing intangibility of services prevails more in education industry as it is difficult to define (Mazzarol, 1998). Marketing of educational institutions in UK started in 1980’s (Brown and Oplatka, 2006) and due to increasing competitive environment, nationally and internationally, universities are sensing the need to market themselves aggressively and after careful situational analysis, they carefully need to adapt strategies to effectively position their in the mind of students (Ivy, 2001). Higher education has become a positional good in the sense that students, parents and employers view some institutions as offering better social life and future prospects and vice versa, institutes seek for the best students (Hirsch, 1976; Maringe, 2006). 

University of Wales is already enormously diverse on any number of dimensions, including ethnicity and nationality. The University celebrates this diversity and looks further to widen its international reputation and appeal.

Any firm, no matter which business they are in, works in vacuum. You need to observe actively which environment you are working in, considering all the external factors which might influence your business. Competitors, especially, have a massive impact on company’s profitability. Rivalry among existing competitors takes the familiar form of jockeying for a better position, pushing companies to adapt tactics such as price cuts, product innovation etc in order to have competitive advantage. All these devices one way or the other, affect the overall profitability of the firm.

BACKGROUND:

University of Wales is s a confederal Pontypridd. It also accredits courses abroad and has over 100,000 students.

The Chancellor of the University of Wales is Archbishop of Wales, Dr. Barry Morgan. The Vice-Chancellor is Professor Marc Clement

The University was composed of Privy Council to change its name to the University of Wales, Newpo

Cardiff University and the University Of Wales College Of Medicine (UWCM) merged on 2005 to study other subjects are awarded Cardiff University degrees

The University has a clear mission as a regional institution which aims to extend opportunity and widen participation in further and higher education and, to that end, commits itself primarily to teaching and learning rather than research. It is a relatively large institution, with some 31,000 registered students in 1996 - 97, of whom 65 per cent were studying part-time, 64 per cent were women and 59 per cent were aged over 25. 48 per cent of students described themselves as non-white. 11 per cent of students were from non-UK EU countries, and 22 per cent were from countries outside the EU.

An important feature of the University is that some 22 per cent of its students are seeking further education qualifications, for which the University is not the awarding body, and for which it bears no formal responsibility for the standards of the awards. Similarly, many of the vocationally-based undergraduate and postgraduate programmed are accredited by professional or statutory bodies, whose standards and quality criteria the University is obliged to meet. In some of these cases, however, the University itself has been accredited by the awarding body (for BTEC courses, for example) and thus has effective sole control of quality and standards.

A further important feature of the University is the strength of commitment of its staff to the institutional mission. We were constantly struck by the way in which this permeated many of our meetings with staff at all levels, from the Vice-Chancellor to the most junior support staff. The mission is ambitious: given the remarkable variety of the student body, the University has set itself a very demanding objective in seeking to provide higher and further educational opportunities which are comparable in standard of outcome, as well as quality of experience, with the generality of higher education institutions in the UK. It is a tribute to the University's staff that its mission remains a source of inspiration despite the difficulties that many of them have experienced in recent years.

Briefs of Aims and Objectives:

Research Aim:

University of Wales was established long time back providing services to facilitate students in attaining better education at different levels. It is facing fierce competition from other universities in London. Preliminary research has indicated that students fail to make associations about the positioning about key benefits of the University over its competitors and cannot identify a unified identity. Therefore, the University clearly needs to position itself against competitors in order to remain attractive in the domestic and international market.

Research Objectives:

In order to satisfy the aim for which this research is being undertaken, following objectives need to be accomplished which will lead to provide us the clear view of current position of University of Wales.

  • To systematically collect data from current students about perception of University in relation to their competitors.

  • To identify the needs and expectations of students from the University.

  • To identify the current positioning of University of Wales.

  • To critically analyze the findings about current positioning.

  • Depending on the analysis, to reinforce the current image of its brand.

  • OR, to re-position the University of Wales image.

  • Finding developments necessary for university to make in order to meet gaps in provision.

Key WordsPositioning; Target Market, Service; Higher Education;

Research Question:

Q1) what are the perceptions of students about the University of Wales in relation to competitors?

Q2) what is the current positioning of the University of Wales?

Hypothesis

  • Perception

HO1: University of Wales has no effect on perception of students.

H11: University of Wales has positive effect on student’s perception.

  • Positioning

H02: University of Wales has no effect on to attracting students.

H12: University of Wales has positive effects on attracting students.

Research Methodology:

In order to accomplish the end objectives for which this research is being conducted, both qualitative and quantitative techniques will be used, which are discussed further. Data collection, both primary and secondary has been divided into two phases. Phase 1 constitutes exploratory research aiming to look for secondary data from different sources as well as qualitative method of conducting focus groups in order to gather primary data necessary for the next step. Phase 2 accompanies quantitative techniques in the form of survey to gather finalized results to be analyzed.

Data Collection (Phase 1):

Exploratory research is investigation informal studies to provide background information. It is not intended to provide conclusive evidence from which to follow a concrete direction, rather it provides a basis that subsequent research will be a requirement to achieve final results. The basic purpose behind exploratory research is to exhaust inexpensive readily available data which may help to prevent mistakes like rushing into expensive detailed surveys (Zikmund, 1997). Exploratory research can be conducted using various techniques. For our research objectives, and considering the mind in limitations, the most suitable are secondary data and focus groups.

Secondary Data: Also termed as holistic data previously collected for some project other than the one at hand. It is relatively inexpensive and readily available, but we need to make sure it is consistent with the problem definition as they are not designed for the purpose to serve research needs (Zikmund, 1997). External sources where we can gather secondary data for this research includes

  • Libraries (Huge source of information including databases, books and periodicals, journal articles) British Library, University of Wales library , EBSCO database, Emerald Management full text database, Athens DA Resources etc.

  • The Internet (Provides secondary data, authenticity is a bit doubtful but in many cases huge information can be acquired).

Focus Groups: The second step of phase 1 is conducting focus group which is a qualitative method of data gathering. It is an unstructured, free flowing interview with a small group of people. Focus groups are not rigidly structured; rather they are of a flexible discussion format. The moderator introduces the topic to the participants who in turn carry out the discussion and as this discussion progresses, new topics emerge. It freely allows the participants to truly reflect their feelings and emotions in their own words (Zikmund, 1997). The role of the moderator is to ensure that all members participate in the session and none dominates it. Though focus groups are the least expensive ways of gathering information; it should be kept in mind that data gathered from focus groups only provide qualitative information. Another limitation to them is that since the members are not selected scientifically, they may not truly reflect the opinions of the whole population at large. However, the exploratory information collected through focus groups can be a basis for further scientific research.

We will be conducting two focus groups of 6 students each. One group will contain a random sample from the international students and other from the domestic students. The objective of the focus groups is to generate further insights about students and the factors they might feel important to them in their ultimate decision of selecting a University. We may or may not come up with factors other than discussed earlier. There is no scientific method to analyze qualitative data. Therefore recording of the whole focus group discussion will be carried out which will help to reduce any risk of biases. Face expressions is a short coming, and it solely based on moderators interpretation.

Data Collection (Phase 2):

The second phase of collecting data is by gathering quantitative data by asking respondents to fill in the finalized self administered questionnaire. We have selected a sample size of 200 students purely based on judgment and keeping in mind the limitations of the study. However, if further we might feel that the sample size is not justified; further alterations may be carried out. Non probability sampling technique is one in which sample is selected on personal judgment or experience and the probability of any member from the population is not known and within that framework, we will be using Quota Sampling (Zikmund, 1997). Quota sampling is a procedure which ensures that all the sub groups present in the population will represent the sample to the extent on the desire of investigator. A logical drawback of quota sample is it tends to select people which are easily available therefore careful supervision is required in order to gather a true representative sample of the population.

Obviously, the logic for using quota sampling for questionnaires is that we want student representing University of Wales from different geographical backgrounds and level of education to be part of the sample. Quota allocation is explained below:

Total Sample = 200

100 International Students

100 Domestic Students

50 Post Graduate Students

50 Graduate Students

50 Post Graduate Students

50 Graduate Students

10 Students from each geographic division

  • America’s

  • Asia

  • Europe

  • Australia

  • Africa’s

10 Students from each geographic division

  • America’s

  • Asia

  • Europe

  • Australia

  • Africa’s

Data Analysis:

The number of questions in the final questionnaire is not known as yet since they will depend on the findings from the primary data from focus groups. However, a few sample questions are listed below (not necessarily the part of final questionnaire):

Q: The achievements of the institution for you?

Q: The University of Wales avenues for religious practices?

Q: Stable political economy of the host country is important?

The most appropriate technique for measuring the attitude of students’ for this research is through Likert scale which is a type on an ordinal scale. It is a bipolar attitude measurement technique most widely used which allows respondents to rate how strongly they agree or disagree with these carefully constructed statement. Therefore, for our research we will construct a 5 point Likert Scale ranging from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree and weights are assigned to answers accordingly. An example is shown below:

Q: The achievements of the institution for you?

Strongly Disagree

Disagree

Uncertain

Agree

Strongly

Agree

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

Each dimension as mentioned will contain certain questions which will reflect the attitude towards the overall dimension. Therefore in order to achieve this, we will use the method of cross-tabulation. It is a technique for organizing data by groups, categories or classes facilitating comparison between them). For individual question, calculation of confidence interval will be conducted using the t distribution. This will help us in finding out attitude of students that how many respond favorably or unfavorably to a certain question. The results will be measured and analyzed with the help of most extensively used statistical software called SPSS. Once data is input, immediate reports are generated and there is no probability of human calculation error.

Conclusion:

The aspect of positioning university brands in students mind is an increasingly growing phenomenon and now a pre requisite for institutions to effectively compete in domestic and international markets. Options for students have proliferated at a progressive rate. Globalization and competitive employment environment at the same time have lead students to treat education as a return on investment in order to safeguard their careers.

The research will help the University of Wales establish a unique position in relation to its competitor which is favorable to students. By doing so, it can develop an enhanced image and also attract more students for a higher market share. Also, as mentioned before there are not many studies providing positioning dimensions for universities. Therefore, our exploratory research might lead us to come up with additional dimensions which can be helpful for universities in future to use as a base for positioning strategy. Once a positioning strategy has been identified and adopted by University of Wales based on this research, future research may be conducted about its validity and may serve as a case study for future work.

References:

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  • Brown, J., & Oplatka, I., (2006) ‘Universities in a competitive global marketplace:
  • A systematic review of the literature on higher education marketing’, International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 19/4, 316-338
  • Cowell. D., (1989), ‘The Marketing of Services’, Heinemann, London.
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  • Hirsch, R. (1976), ‘Social Limits to Growth, Harvard University Press’, Cambridge, MA
  • Hooley, G.; Broderick, A.; Moller, K. (1998), ‘Competitive positioning and the resource-based view of the firm’, Journal of Strategic Marketing, June, Vol. 6 Issue 2, p97-115
  • Ivy, J. (2001), “Higher education institution image: a correspondence analysis approach”, International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 15 No. 6, pp. 276-82
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  • Kalafatis S., Tsogas M., and Blankson C., (2000), ‘Positioning Strategies in Business Markets’, Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, Vol. 5, No 6, p 416-437.
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  • Marketing’, International Journal of Educational Management, 12/4, 163–175
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