The ever-changing dynamics of the current business environment have complicated the manner in which business organizations, including learning institutions, conduct their operations. Increasingly, marketing strategies vary from one industry to the other. Such variations call for special marketing strategies. Today, marketing and perception-enhancement processes ought to entail a number of interrelated activities critical for the attainment of institutional goals. In context, various marketing strategies are employed by the Federation University Australia to enhance its image. In this regard, this research proposal presents a viable plan to carry out a comprehensive perception-boosting study aimed at identifying the current challenges experienced in its marketing endeavors.
Background to the Marketing Problem
Like most business entities, organizations within the education sector require well-laid-down strategies to enhance their overall success (Kegan & Wagner, 2006). For many businesses, a strategy relating to the manner in which marketing and perception management is developed to outshine their competitors (Wilson, 2010). To be sure, universities, especially consolidated ones, often incorporate their operations within their regions of existence to capture regional and global markets (Arikan, 2009). For instance, the Federation University Australia (FeUA) has a number of departments charged with the mandate of ensuring that business and learning operations succeed.
Consolidated educational sectors need to be governed by well-thought-through guidelines and strategies (Desha & Hargroves, 2013). Marketing and perception-enhancement processes among students and other stakeholders entail a number of strategies aimed at encouraging student enrollment and maintenance in the most cost-effective ways (Kegan & Wagner, 2006). To this end, business strategic actions and plans should be geared towards ensuring that businesses do not make any losses (Gitman & Carl, 2005). In fact, as a part of the four perspectives of the Balanced Scorecard, customers’ expectations are important performance indicators (Thompson, 2003).
In context, Federation University Australia is one of the single-most consolidated learning institutions in Australia. So far, the university has built a very good reputation for the duration it has been in operation (Desha & Hargroves, 2013). The enrolment rate has been on the increase since its inception, yet the perception of the university has not been well enhanced to achieve maximum enrolment rates and improved academic position in the global ranking index. Seemingly, the institution is not taking full advantage of information technology measures and its continued evolution to augment its competitiveness (Greengard, 2009).
Kegan and Wagner (2006) argue that marketing entails interrelated activities whose implementation leads to the attainment of organizational goals. However, while Federation University Australia employs various marketing strategies, it is yet to integrate other potential measures to boost its perceptions among students and stakeholders (Desha & Hargroves, 2013). The institution has integrated various technologies within its operations, but other integrative issues remain unaddressed (Gitman & Carl, 2005).
Certain issues that affect students’ perceptions of the university need to be scrutinized. The qualification of lecturers is above board. The university has a reasonable number of professors but is not adequate enough to compete with other institutions within Australia and the world. Besides, the university stands at position one-hundred-and-fifty in the world academic ranking index (Desha & Hargroves, 2013). Federation University Australia has an elaborate research framework, but funding limits need to be revised. While its research programs focus on the ‘‘best’’ researchers, a framework to support student research engagements should be increased. More interesting is that the school’s commercial research and related training services have a lot of policy concerns.
For the success of these objectives, the Federation University of Australia carries out regular researches on various issues that relate to student needs and patterns of enrolment within the Australian education market (Philip, 2006). However, at a time when the global economy is in crisis, institutions ought to maintain their desired profit margins while generating enough cash for their daily operations (Keller & Kotler, 2012).
It appears that the current marketing strategy of the school does not authorize measures that could lure more potential students to seek its services and for it to improve its world ranking position (Desha & Hargroves, 2013). At any rate, such strategies guarantee that customers’ trust is won by establishing a needed business reputation (Grams, 2011). In the end, the measure of dividing the market into segments (focusing on departments) ought to be implemented (Arikan, 2009). In most cases, as it stands, the university chooses the limited value propositions on how the market is managed (Desha & Hargroves, 2013). However, this process should involve the choice of services to be offered by zeroing on marketing concepts and applications.
The need to increase the rate of student enrolment and make Federation University Australia more recognized by improving its research and academic ranking cannot be overstated. Such aims require that an evaluation of the university’s departments determine areas for improvement. In any case, Arikan (2009) observes that, in a competitive market, institutions such as consolidated universities compete to reach the maximum levels of stakeholders and students’ expectations. This aspect is a key differentiator of successful business entities (Elton & Goetzmann, 2007). Viewed together, this research proposal aims to outline potential marketing strategies that should be used by the Federation University Australia, the challenges of the existing ones and the available opportunities to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors (Hart, 2003).
Specifically, the research questions to be addressed are:
- What major ‘‘competitive’’ advantages does Federation University Australia have over its competitors?
- What challenges are being faced by the Federation University of Australia administrators in their current marketing efforts?
- In what ways can the school’s operations be re-configured to reflect the ever-changing needs of students and the world economy?
- How do the current marketing strategies employed by the university reflect the institutions’ future targets?
The study questions will help in the analysis of the marketing strategies that ought to be employed by Federation University Australia. Throughout the intended research process, these questions will enhance the understanding of all relevant issues relating to student perceptions of the school.
This chapter focuses on a very informed and justified account of the manner in which the research will be approached. Various epistemological and ontological issues of the research are provided. The chapter addresses the actual methods to be used in the research process from the time of its inception to its conclusion. The role of primary data, in addressing various research questions, will be addressed. Additionally, the manner in which data will be collected and later analyzed to reach empirical conclusions is discussed. This process will be carried out with an in-depth reflection on the research design and goals (Coldwell & Herbst, 2004).
Methods of Data Collection and Measurement
The methods to be used in the research will be based on primary and secondary techniques of data collection. The primary method will be tailored upon collecting data from Federation University Australia’s administrators and students to determine student satisfaction levels. In addition, student opinions and other stakeholders’ views will be incorporated throughout the research process (Coldwell & Herbst, 2004). In this regard, the administration of questionnaires will play a vital role in reaching potential respondents in different locations, within and outside the school (Lowe & Zikmund, 2012). Internet interviews will be conducted. This will be done by mailing questionnaires to the target participants such as students.
In order to fully identify the current marketing strategies used by the university and the issues that inform students’ perceptions, the proposed research will ensure that all relevant stakeholders are involved in corrective policy formulation processes. At any rate, the choice of interviewees will be around strategic university administrators and students. In a few cases, telephone interviews will be employed. Same questions as those used in the administration of the questionnaires will be used in the efforts aimed at obtaining crucial information from the university’s students.
In administering the questionnaires, respondents’ names will not be requested. This strategy will ensure that the research participants provide impartial observations in relation to the scope of research. Often, questionnaires provide a better chance for collecting quantitative data due to their nature of asking close-ended questions that often provide numerical data (Coldwell & Herbst, 2004). Questionnaires also provide an avenue for testing and answering the research questions.
Also, the questionnaires to be used will investigate the satisfaction levels of the respondents and find possible preferences to make management measures of the university more effective. Brief questions will be utilized to boost the confidence of respondents and add value to their accuracy. Moreover, the questions will be more objective (not leading), simple and specific to particular matters of the research. Other than minimizing time-wasting, this will ensure that more accurate and specific answers are given.
Subsequently, the collected data will be tabulated and analyzed with a focus on making comparisons. Tabulation will be done by both nominal and ordinal measurements. Nominal measurements will be carried out by categorizing responses as disaggregated by participants’ gender and year of study (Coldwell & Herbst, 2004). On the other hand, ordinal measurements will be tailored around the degree of satisfaction of Federation University Australia’s students.
The choice of questionnaires, as a data collection tool, will be arrived at after an objective evaluation and in-depth consideration of the research goals and target groups. To a large extent, a random method of sampling will be employed to ensure that the pieces of information collected are representative of the whole population (Wilson, 2010). Students’ opinions will be validated through planned distributive questionnaires among random groups of students and administrators (Calkins, 2008). In addition, online sources of information, journals, books, written articles and magazines will be utilized for filling in specialized questionnaires and other data collection purposes (Coldwell & Herbst, 2004). Furthermore, the choice of employing questionnaires will be valid because of their cost-effectiveness and convenience in relation to their responsiveness of providing standardized answers that are simple to compile and analyze (Lowe & Zikmund, 2012).
A questionnaire with closed-ended variables will be used for collecting data from the research sample. Questionnaire drafting will be done with a clear consideration of the diversity of the people in the university and the target goals of the research process (Coldwell & Herbst, 2004). The questions used will be of different sets and will be geared towards data collection procedures of respondents in different formats. The closed-ended questions used will enable the research participants, especially those in marketing and teaching, to answer from a set of options (Calkins, 2008). Below is the proposed set of questionnaires:
Questionnaires on the various perception-enhancement and marketing strategies for Federation University Australia
This questionnaire is intended to help in the collection of information regarding the various marketing strategies, perception-boosting processes as well as student satisfaction issues at the Federation University Australia. The research intends to formulate various research issues related to the school’s marketing procedures and stakeholders’ perceptions. Confidentiality and integrity of information shall be observed.
Email Address ____________________________ Date: _______________________
City, state: ________________________________________________________
Telephone: (____) – _______-_______ Date of birth: _____________________
School Position (____) – _______-_______ Sex: Female , Male
- School Position________________________________
- Position (stake) in the Federation University Australia (chose one – tick the appropriate category)
- Regular Student
- Related school
- Administrative employee
- Other categories (Please name it)
Student Satisfaction Levels (Current students only)
- How would you rate the level of satisfaction of the Federation University Australia?
- Fully Satisfied
- Average Satisfaction levels
- Indifferent/Neither satisfied nor satisfied
- Minimal Satisfaction
- Totally not satisfied
- Would you recommend the school for others if you had the opportunity to do so?
- Do you think the school research and teaching programs are elaborate enough and relevant to today’s socio-economic demands?
- Are you aware of any of the marketing or perception-boosting strategies used by the school?
- If yes, name some of them___________________, ____________________
- Which of the following best explains Federation University Australia’s marketing strategy?
- The marketing Strategies employed fully address all the challenges in the education sector.
- Most of the marketing strategies employed partially meet the challenges being faced in the market.
- Marketing strategies employed do not address the current challenges being faced by universities.
- Are there marketing strategies that you would like to see integrated into the school’s plans to enhance the levels of student and stakeholders’ satisfaction?
Thank you for your effort and contribution. A copy of the results of this research process will be sent to you in due time.
Data Sampling Techniques
A purposive sampling strategy will be employed in determining the sample population to be used in the research process. In the final analysis stage and sampling of the collected data, the sample population will be divided into subgroups to simplify the sampling procedure. Only a random sampling strategy will be used. This method is the simplest, most effective, efficient and generally the best method of drawing a sample from a study population (Lowe & Zikmund, 2012). In addition, as pointed out by Joshi (2005), a quota sampling strategy will apply in situations where the use of a random sampling strategy is impossible. In very rare cases, a stratified method of sampling will be used to ensure that large samples used are subdivided into significant variables.
Limitations of the Research Design
Data will be collected from a small population sample central to the intended purpose of evaluation. This might limit the scope and validity of generalization. Likely, limited time will inconvenience the research as it will require a longer period of time, which may not be available (Grams, 2011). Other fears are based on the likely reception, of the study objectivities, by the respondents particularly the school administrators (Coldwell & Herbst, 2004). In addition, while the study will focus on quantitative data, the qualitative aspects may be utilized based upon accountability measures. However, in keeping with ethical standards in the conduct of research with human participants, the researcher may, without prior anticipation, know the participants.
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