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 8: Developing strategic directions

John A. Davis and Mark A. Farrell

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


In this chapter we examine strategy planning processes and their application in a university context, in which multiple stakeholders play vital contributing roles in shaping the institution’s direction. Clearly defining the university’s vision, mission and values are essential and it is surprising how often disconnects occur between the stated ambition versus the implementation. In effect, the challenge lies in two key areas: first, aligning the vision, mission and values; second, walking the talk (i.e. living the institution’s values and purpose). For a market-orientation to take hold, a university’s strategy plan must be bold enough to encourage a rigorous and penetrating review of the institution’s curricula, research orientation, and teaching support, aligned with performance-based outcomes and the market-oriented research findings.

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