Student Relationship Management in Germany - Foundations and Opportunities**

Article excerpt

The objective of the article is to introduce to the topic of Student Relationship Management (SRM) in Germany. The concept has been derived from the idea of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM), which has already been successfully implemented in many enterprises. Its objective is to canvass for customers, obtain their loyalty towards the company and, if necessary, win them back. Furthermore, potential uses of a SRM within the context of Higher Education Management will be demonstrated by means of examples of German universities and by applying new methods.

Key words: Student Relationship Management, Customer Relationship Management, Higher Education Management, Data Mining, Student satisfaction

1. Motivation

Students in Germany became more and more demanding. At the same time, the motives of high school graduates to choose their study place(s) have changed over the past years. The German university-information-system HIS ascertained that 65% of the first-year students decided to choose their university due to their place of residence and/or the "hotel mummy". Good equipment of the university is an important criterion for 58% of high school graduates, as well as the reputation of the university (52%). Nevertheless, for 90% of the high school graduates it is above all important that the courses offered correspond to their specialized interests (Heine et al. 2005: 193f.).

Furthermore, the use of information offered by university rankings becomes more and more frequent. However, not only German but also foreign students select German universities on basis of the results of university rankings which are available in English as well. Therefore, it is not amazing that faculties with good ranking results register more students in the following term - in relation to the previous years. However, neither the university management nor education politicians are aware of this competition trend because they associate competition rather with areas of research and professors than with students. Good universities, though, are not only characterized by outstanding researchers but by excellent students as well (Spiewak 2005). Thus it is not astonishing that first approaches to bind potential students to universities are already done by several universities, e.g. by offering workshops for mathematic pupils (University of Munich) or also by "children universities" (Technische Universität Dresden).

Consequently, the goal of this article is to introduce to the topic of Student Relationship Management (SRM). The concept itself deals with a holistic, systematic care of the "business relationship" between university and student, whereby particularly the service quality becomes a more and more interesting point (Gopfrich 2002: 97). Thereby, the satisfaction of students can be increased and the commitment between the students and the university will be intensified, also beyond the final degree.

Next to a lasting relation between students and their university, the students' satisfaction is a crucial factor. Therefore, the general concept of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) will be defined. Based on this general theory, a model describing the idea of a SRM will be designed. Moreover applicable measures in Management of Higher Education are presented. Furthermore, the intention of the article is to show the potential of SRM by discussing appropriate applications when focusing on increasing the satisfaction of the students.

2. Customer Relationship Management as basis for SRM

In order to discuss the possibilities of applying the framework of CRM - as used in the economy - to Higher Education, there has to be a basic understanding of the concept itself. Therefore, definitions of CRM as well as SRM need to be pointed out. Furthermore, three modules of a holistic CRM as well as the framework of a customer relationship lifetime cycle (CRLC), representing the basis of the model proposed for managing university-student-relationships, are to be described in their basic elements. …