How do you do more with less? That was clearly on the minds of attendees at this week’s American Marketing Association Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education conference in New Orleans. As with other industries, many higher education institutions find themselves under pressure as they struggle to keep up with disruptions brought forth by the rapid pace of change in information technology and a change in attitudes toward higher education in the wake of the economic downturn. Tectonic shifts are moving the ground rapidly under the feet of an industry that’s traditionally been slow to change. Marketers are struggling to keep up.
The challenges higher education institutions face are existential: Flat tuition revenues and increased debt from a massive brick-and-mortar build-out in the ‘90s have pinched budgets, while rising college costs, cuts in government subsidies and soaring student debt have more parents and students comparison shopping. Is a given college worth the money? How much will I earn with a degree from this school? What’s the average starting salary from graduates of this school? How much debt will I take on and can I pay it back? What’s my return on investment? More than ever, marketers need to communicate value.