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Public universities need marketing skills

By Vision Reporter

Added 1st September 2009 03:00 AM

RICHARD MUSANI

The complaints of students and parents over the 40% tuition increment in public universities reflects poor marketing strategies in our institutions of higher learning.

RICHARD MUSANI

The complaints of students and parents over the 40% tuition increment in public universities reflects poor marketing strategies in our institutions of higher learning.

This can be justified, considering the appalling state of public universities in terms of infrastructure, social services and the inadequate government funding. But the abrupt increment by close to 50%, without prior notice, depicts lack of a marketing strategy.

The marketing challenge is that parents and students (the clients) had adapted to the fees structure for many years and did not expect a drastic change.

Institutions ought to be dynamic when pricing their products or services by making regular adjustments so that their clients do not get used to a fixed price over a long period of time.

For instance, international students contribute huge amounts of money to our public universities, but what are the chances that the adjustments in the fees structure will affect their enrolment?

The growth indicator is that public universities are likely to register lower numbers this year, compared to the previous years. This not only implies loss of revenue from foreign earnings, but also downsizing of academic staff to a part-time basis, ultimately affecting the gross domestic product, per capita earnings and economic growth figures.

Public universities could consider the following tips:

- Understand their clientele by collecting information on private students, both local and international

- Tailor a concept that suits students by providing general information on the improvement on service delivery, despite the static fees structure

- Get your clientele into the habit of saying ‘yes’, like Dale Carnegie says in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Carnegie says we need to get people into the habit of saying “yes” if you want them to agree with what you have to say; in this case, why the abrupt 40% tuition increment?

Public universities should have proved their new policy by highlighting the increment in routine administrative expenditure and other costs that could influence the increment

- Public universities should learn to play with the students/parents emotions by highlighting pertinent issues as there is need for better infrastructure. Students in their various faculties should have access to Information Communication and Technology and the Internet, among others.

Highlighting the benefits rather than the challenges and announcing tuition increment, while making the students admire the additional services you provide or anticipate to provide, is a good starting point.

- Universities could break the increment into smaller denominations such as a 20% increment this academic year and a 10% come 2010/2011 and another 10% in the 2011/2012 academic year.

This would go a long way in saving prospective students from suffering the shock that comes with the various adjustments.

It would also make services more affordable and admirable by all stakeholders.

Whether it is a product or service, when instituting a price increment, one needs to enhance the perceived value of one’s goods or services as the fundamental principle that cuts across.

The writer is a strategic
management analyst at Kampala
Motors Limited

Public universities need marketing skills

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