Magazine article CRM Magazine

Higher Ed Increases Marketing: Schools Shift Focus to Generate More Inquiries In-House and Boost Technology Investments

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Higher Ed Increases Marketing: Schools Shift Focus to Generate More Inquiries In-House and Boost Technology Investments

Article excerpt

In the past few months, higher education marketers have faced a whirlwind of changes that affect how their institutions attract, enroll, and retain students. Yet, colleges and universities remain bullish on their marketing spending for the coming year, with a majority (55 percent) planning to increase their budgets, according to research from LeadsCouncil and CUnet.

The anticipated increased spending follows tighter government controls that seek to regulate recruitment processes among for-profit colleges and universities, and will have an impact on how these schools market themselves, the programs they offer, and the students they can accept. Those regulations were finalized by the U.S. Department of Education in October and will take effect on July 1.

One part of the rules prohibits schools from paying admissions staffers incentives based on the number of students they enroll. Another cuts off federal funds to programs whose borrowers have high debt-to-income ratios and low loan-repayment rates. A third part of the regulations limits the revenue schools can receive from student financial aid programs. That rule is expected to hit schools hard, because many serve nontraditional students--including working adults, single parents, returning veterans, low-income students, and minorities--who all rely more heavily on financial aid programs.

"From eliminating programs to retraining staff and increasing academic standards, the survey showed that for-profit schools have significant plans for change in response to the regulations over the coming months," LeadsCouncil's cofounder Dave Wengel wrote in an email.

"It's clear that schools are looking for ways to take more control over their marketing and increase transparency, both in their dealings with third-party affiliates and by generating their own inquiries," Jamie McDonald, managing director of customer solutions at CUnet, said in a statement.

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According to the survey, the 2011 Benchmarking Survey for Higher Education Marketers, 65 percent of for-profit school marketers identified the regulations as a significant or major concern. In response, nearly all schools reported plans for change, including demanding transparency from third-party affiliates (92 percent), retraining admissions staff (79 percent), and increasing academic standards (64 percent). …

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