Academic journal article International Journal of Management

An Investigation of Strategic Gaps between Projected and Target Student Recruitment in a Regional College of Technology: A Managerial Perspective

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

An Investigation of Strategic Gaps between Projected and Target Student Recruitment in a Regional College of Technology: A Managerial Perspective

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to investigate strategic gaps at a regional polytechnic, using the technique of gap analysis. Strategic gaps between projected student recruitment and strategic target recruitment were examined and established. The study was exploratory, and provides the basis for further investigation of the relationship between projected and actual student recruitment in a turbulent environment. The use of gap analysis for this purpose provides managers and researchers with a tool to find the configuration between organization's strategic initiatives and its strategic goals.

Introduction

For the tertiary education sector in New Zealand, the 1990s was a turbulent period. A series of changes in government policies and legislation were introduced with serious implications for the sector. These changes included the formation of a Ministry of Education, the introduction of bulk funding for tertiary education, the overhaul of the student loan system, and the emergence of a new qualification framework. Other government initiatives introduced included allowing Polytechnics to offer degree programs for the first time. A "claw back" funding system was also introduced in which funds were repaid to the government where student recruitment estimates were not fully met. These developments put the Polytechnics under a lot of pressure and they responded with a host of strategic plans and initiatives aimed at growing their service base. The Polytechnics mainly shifted emphasis from providing only certificate and diploma courses to providing degree courses as well.

This paper examines, using gap analysis, the implementation of a strategic initiative (in response to the development in the environment highlighted above) undertaken by one of the New Zealand Polytechnics - Eastern Institute of Technology, (EIT). The initiative was to increase the number of degree level programmes and enrollments at the Polytechnic. Specifically, the research sought to investigate two aspects of the implementation of the strategic initiative. The first was to determine the proportion of students enrolled into certificate, diploma and degree programmes in the Faculty of Science and Technology, EIT, from 1994 to 1998. The rationale for this was to establish trends in recruitment in the three programme type, as the basis for predicting future student recruitment. The second aspect was to determine the extent of any strategic gaps between trends in student recruitment and the strategic objectives for enrollments, up to the year 2002.

EIT, Hawke's Bay Background

First established as Hawke's Bay Community College in 1975, The Eastern Institute of Technology, Hawke's Bay, (EIT), is one of the over forty tertiary institutions owned by the government of New Zealand. It is located in the Northern Island part of the country. By 1991 the institution has gone multi disciplinary offering courses that include nursing, business studies, agriculture, office systems, trades education, arts and craft, and a wide range of community education short courses (HBP, 1992). A number of challenges emerged in 1992. The challenges included a reduction in the number of government-sponsored students, and Universities were increasing their market targeting of the Hawke's Bay area.

These pressures led to a change in strategic direction by the Polytechnic in 1993. A new plan outlined a growth strategy, and one of the strategic initiatives was to provide degree programmes in a limited number of subject areas. Community education programmes, funded at a lower rate than academic programs, were reduced, and vocational polytechnic programmes with little economic value were discontinued. The result was a strong growth in student numbers in 1993 and 1994. In general, the strategic direction since 1992 had been successful in achieving growth as measured by a number of performance indicators'. A new challenge emerged in 1999 in the form of a new government funding formula, which subsidised all enrolled students. …

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