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Education Blog 2016-10-11

5 things that work for a higher education brand

To be successful the Higher Education institution must be designed to be catalytic of lifting its students from parochial constraints to global possibilities, rather than preservative, of maintaining the established system of privileges, practices and cred...

5 things that work for a higher education brand

The landscape is changing. Higher education is being reshaped by globalisation and digital revolution. There is growing pressure related to declining sources of income and rising costs. There is heightened competition for the share of the global student market. Institutions are seeing a lasting effect from the global financial crisis impacting both enrolment numbers and philanthropy, and students have increasing demands and expectations from their educational experience. Prospective students are becoming more consumer-orientated and making decisions about education accordingly.

Thus, in such a scenario, how does one build a Higher Education brand? To be successful the Higher Education institution must be designed to be catalytic of lifting its students from parochial constraints to global possibilities, rather than preservative, of maintaining the established system of privileges, practices and credentials.

Prof. Furqan Qamar, Secretary General, Association of Indian Universities says, “Branding is not about technology and communicating only, but is about so many things like institute facilities and much more put together.”

As people believe building a brand would take hundreds of years, many of them don’t even start trying working on it. Building a higher education brand would require lasting commitment and consistent efforts from the institution. 5 of such areas are listed below:

Infrastructure

The infrastructure of an institute speaks a lot about the facilities it can provide to its students. The institute is responsible for the overall development of the basic infrastructure, both in terms of policy and planning. Well developed libraries with books and WiFi facility are a must for today’s educational institutes to run successfully. Apart from it, a 24X7 cafeteria facility, hostel accommodation, well ventilated classrooms etc are inevitable in today’s time.

Talking about the infrastructure that MDI provides to its MBA students, Professor CP Shrimali, Acting Director, MDI Gurgaon says, “We have a world class campus in the sense that we have some global linkages, so we know what world class B-schools really mean.” He adds that it is the library that is of utmost importance when it comes to higher education. Telling us about the MDI library and how much the board really spends on it, he says, “I have a physical as well as a digital library. What matters is not just the building, but also the availability of the books and academic material to students round the clock. As for the budget for the library, we don’t really have a limit. But we spend more than Rs 5 crore every year only on the library itself, and that too, is not the limit. We are ready to spend more if the need be.”

Faculty

Well educated and experienced faculty is very important in building an educational brand. Hiring and retaining good faculty is a big challenge for institutions as other institutions also vie for good teachers due to their shortage in the industry.

According to Professor Rishikesha T Krishnan, Director, IIM-Indore, “The education sector largely sees rapid movement of faculty from one institution to another. The important thing is to provide the right environment where the faculty feels that they can double up their capability. They are highly qualified people, they usually come with significant expertise in their domain. They are looking for an institute that can provide them a conducive environment to do what they love to do, which is research and academic activity. I think the key to retaining faculty is to provide that environment.”

International Exchange Programs

International exchange program implies sending the students abroad to study and get international exposure at world best universities. Similarly international students come to India to study. The time spent abroad is either a semester or a whole year, depending on the agreement. This exchange program encourages getting acquainted with the culture there, learning the language etc. This program in turn builds the institution’s repute globally and thus, helps building the brand’s image.

According to LPU Chancellor Ashok Mittal, "Globally, we are tied up with large universities. We are connected to 200 universities across the globe in 35-40 countries including Australia, Germany. We have students exchange programs with these universities. So, I think it’s very important to be a globally connected university if you want to grow.”

Placements

Getting campus interviews for your students is one of the most important aspects that is expected of the colleges in India. Students and parents, more so during recession, look for campus placement records as one of the important parameters in selecting a college. It is easy if the institute has a good reputation. First of all, institutes need to have a good placement officer or a placement cell. Good reputation of the institute is very helpful to attract good companies visit you for campus placements. Networking is another important aspect to accelerate and sustain success for any organisation. Picking the right kind of campus job ensures you maintain your reputation in the market.

Marketing and online presence

As Qamar puts forth, “In today’s world, an individual or an institution has no existence if they have no presence online.”

With the changing world, presence online is inevitable for any institute or business as people generally ‘Google’ everything they require. Giving your institute an online presence means more than simply putting up a little website with your institute's address and phone number. It means setting up a virtual version of your institute, with a welcoming, informative website, a Facebook page and Twitter account. Getting it listing on Google using paid services gets more visibility. Online reviews, interactions with other students/parents and the frequency and quality of posts help to form a positive impression of the institute in the potential student's mind, making a future bonding more likely.

Building and managing a brand is vital if one wants to strengthen and manage the perceptions of their institute. Some of the best higher education institutes in India put their best foot forward in achieving the points above and, therefore, hold top positions in the country. For other and newer institutes, these are the areas to work on to make sure your higher education institute gets more enrolments. 

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