Should Education be Marketed?

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 552 , Published on 05 August 2016
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The title of this article seems much generalized. But as we go through the article I expect majority of the doubts to be clarified. The reason why this topic was chosen in the very first place is the excessive ads that you see everywhere pertaining to different Institutes offering single(or multiple) degree(s). But the all-important question. Why go for such aggressive marketing of an Institute when as per the education system, technically a student will get admission only in an Institute where he or she qualifies?

So to answer the question, these Institutes market so that they get some visibility and become preferred over others. The question that immediately follows is, “Do the students actually have preference?”. The answer to this question lies in the fact that a lot of Institutes nowadays admit students through a so called “Management Quota” wherein a student fulfilling the basic eligibility criteria (or not) can pursue a degree by paying that extra amount. This is not always true but is, majority of the times.

But it has been found that a lot of these ads contain overstated figures regarding the facilities, infrastructure and a lot of other parameters that generally influence a student’s decision.


Image:pixabay


After going through this above answer, let us try to imagine a scenario. Let us consider an Engineering Institute named XYZ, having an ad proclaiming great infrastructure, and fantastic placements. An engineering aspirant goes through this ad, gets impressed and decides to take admission only to find after visiting the campus that a lot of development is yet to take place.


This also is an answer to the most pertinent question arising nowadays, “What is the reason behind the decrease in quality education?”. This is the major reason why you find more than 75% of the youth inclined to be engineers or doctors , because with innumerable private institutes coming up, you find hordes of ads everyday proclaiming excellent facilities , placements etc. These ads have their requisite effect on a majority of the SEC C D section who feel that admitting their child in one of them would at least guarantee them a job. But is this so?


As per Aspiring Minds National Employability Report, 80% of the engineering graduates are unemployable. So a major proportion of this populace does not get jobs. So what happens after this? A lot of these people start preparing for some other completely unrelated degree that assures a job.

The last 3 paragraphs essentially summarize the current education system in our country. With the emergence of a vast number of Engineering Institutes (and even MBA), there are a lot of Institutes offering seats to comparatively lesser number of aspirants. This results in increased advertising to attract more students and a lot of inflation in stats which in turn hampers the potential skill of a student most of whom don’t even get a chance to figure out their careers on their own.


Most of these points actually point out to the ill effects of marketing when it comes to education. But that is not what I wanted to imply. Every institute has the right to market its achievements and facilities but the question arises when they start to overdo it, that is, include stats that are inflated.

After all the analysis, what do you think then is the conclusion. Should education be marketed? The answer to this question is Yes, it should be marketed. Confused? The point is every institute offering every kind of degree has got the right to market every achievement and every advantage it holds over its competitors. This will enable the students to have the right kind of knowledge required to select the institute conforming to his/her list of selected factors. But there is a rider. I feel there should be some kind of regulator who monitors these ads and ensures that all the stats provided in the ad actually are true and observable.


The AICTE along with other accreditation bodies are responsible to ensure that all these Institutes conform to the minimum quality prescribed. But unfortunately they have not been able to enforce conformity to the quality parameters which becomes evident as one goes and visits multiple institutes in and around the country.

Along with this care has to be taken to ensure that all kinds of professional degrees are equally marketed. Some kind of regulation should be enforced on Advertisement channels to ensure that there is equal representation of all kinds of professional degrees and the aspiring students get exposure to all of them. This is very difficult but step by step implementation can go a long way in not only improving the quality of education but this will also go a long way in narrowing the skill deficit as the students will then get exposure to a lot of career options which is expected to naturally translate into more diversification in terms of employable students available. So the two steps are:

1. Ensuring conformance of all quality parameters of any Institute providing a professional degree and proper verification of every stat and figure that is put in public domain

2. An independent regulator regulating the content of ads, when it comes to the stats displayed and the number of institute ads displayed for a particular degree


So the overall conclusion is that, there is nothing wrong in marketing education provided it doesn’t present a skewed picture in terms of educational opportunities available as well as the multiple figures available that eventually determine an aspirant’s decision. And for that and that alone, a lot of initiatives need to be taken and implemented at multiple levels beginning from MHRD itself. The last but not the least step that can be a bit controversial but will go a long way in improving a lot of things pertaining to education will be the abolition of management quota. This will not just foster a better educational environment but will shift the focus to the academics rather than the infrastructure and fake statistics aspect. So yes a certain degree of change is required when it comes to the marketing aspect of education but at the moment, until the changes suggested above are minutely implemented, I do not foresee any change, which is to say the least, wrong for the development of these young creative minds of the country.

 

This article has been authored by Swagat Kumar from IIM Raipur


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