The promise of marketing in higher education

Where we have been, where we are and where we are going

Authored by: Charles S. Madden

The Routledge Companion to Nonprofit Marketing

Print publication date:  November  2007
Online publication date:  November  2007

Print ISBN: 9780415417273
eBook ISBN: 9780203936023
Adobe ISBN: 9781134114917


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For the majority of the history of modern higher education (HE) there has been a largely Darwinian view of what should happen to institutions when they encounter competition, declining demand or other problems that we frequently associate with a need for strategic marketing thinking. Hundreds of colleges and universities have ceased to exist because of economic shortfalls over the past two hundred years in the USA and Europe (Mulnix 1989:124). Usually because of fluctuations in student applications or because of new start-up institutions, both new and established colleges have cut costs, eliminated programmes or sought emergency funding to continue to survive during difficult times. Because ‘selling’ or otherwise employing ‘commercial’ approaches to save colleges was considered beneath the dignity of the leaders of those institutions, many schools have perished or merged through the years. It was thought that ceasing to exist was preferable to ‘debasing’ the institution by using marketing techniques to address problems. Frankly, the very idea of using marketing was rarely considered because the arenas of learning and commerce were far apart in the thinking of institutional leaders.

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