The Market Oriented University

The Market Oriented University

Transforming Higher Education

John A. Davis and Mark A. Farrell

The next decade will be transformative for the higher education sector. Government funding is decreasing. Through their marketing activities universities have created the ‘student consumer.’ The student consumer is prepared to shop around, compare prices and value, and once purchased expects a return on their investment. Disruptive innovations are challenging traditional forms of learning and in many cases are viewed as better alternatives to traditional learning in the classroom. Competition from private educational providers is increasing. Their cost base is lower, and their customer focus is superior. In short, universities around the world are facing a perfect storm. While experts don’t expect the higher education sector to collapse under these challenges, they do believe that for some institutions the future looks bleak. If universities are to avoid closures or mergers, they will need to adopt a market-oriented approach.

Chapter 7: Understanding the market

John A. Davis and Mark A. Farrell

Subjects: business and management, management education, management and universities, marketing, education, management and universities, management education


Market research takes center stage in this chapter. One of the opportunities, and challenges, universities face is defining what the actual problem and/or need is to be addressed for them to become market-oriented. Framing the right question is the first step toward ensuring the institution’s understanding of the market place is relevant to its strategic needs. By understanding fundamental market research steps and techniques within, university leaders will be in a better position to properly frame the research initiative and organize the evidence gathering in a way that addresses the university’s long-term interests. There are numerous frameworks and methodological techniques for conducting market research, and experienced academicians and leaders will be quite familiar with the variants, so the task is transforming this knowledge into useful, actionable insights that help the institution become more market-oriented.

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