Higher education institutions rely on thriving in a competitive sphere to continue maintaining their place. In a field that relies on students choosing one school out of thousands of options, competition in the education industry is a critical aspect. It requires several measures from faculty and administration.
If your technology or procedures are not in line with what other institutions are doing, your enrollment will likely suffer. Read about the competitive landscape and what students look for in colleges to help your institution stay up to date.
Competitive Landscape in Higher Education
Higher education institutions have to compete against each other on several levels. While companies in different sectors simply need to attract and maintain customers, higher education institutions also need to compete for:
- Funding: Higher education institutions can bring in large sums of money from student tuition, but they also rely on government and other funding to help supply them with essential factors to maintain institution functions and help them compete. Institutions can use the funding to build structures and facilities that meet student needs, pay for faculty research, and implement infrastructure. Funding is often limited, so schools will need to highlight why they need it more than other schools.
- Research opportunities: Research can help higher education institutions stand out from their competition and highlight the expertise of their professors. However, professors might receive limited funding for research, and publications only take specific amounts of research with each edition. Conferences can only host a specific number of researchers and might limit to a very narrow topic.
- Faculty: Professors are the backbone of higher education institutions, helping provide students with the essential skills and knowledge they will need to survive in their specific academic or technical field. Like with students, schools will need to make their institution attractive to professors and make them want to commit to their school over other positions.
While there are many things that higher education institutions need to compete over, there are several factors that they can highlight to make their school more attractive to students.
What Students Look For in Colleges
Understanding what students want from higher education institutions can help your school thrive in the education and academic industries. While institutions compete for several factors, teaching students is the school's primary purpose, and maintaining student satisfaction can help schools compete. Discovering what students value most can help your higher education institution stand out from competition schools. Some things that students value include:
- Cost: Cost is one of the most impactful factors students consider when looking at various higher education institutions. Affordability often outranks other qualities, such as desired programs or academic quality. Students also look for scholarships and stipends that they qualify for.
- Location: Many students opt for in-state schools because of their affordability. However, students will also choose a school for its location. A school in the city will offer different experiences and amenities than a more rural location. Students might also look for schools with nearby shopping centers, a lot of available housing, and access to public transportation.
- Reputation: Institution marketing teams work hard to create a brand for your school, and students will notice and use that brand when making their decision. Reputation can help them understand the environment and whether they will fit in. However, reputation can come from other sources, such as a potential student's relationship with current students and local thoughts about the school.
- Academic quality and curriculum: Learning is the main objective of attending a higher education institution, and students want to ensure they are receiving a quality education. Highlighting your specialized curriculum can help attract students looking for a specific program.
- Student activities: While education and other factors are important, student life and activities can also be impactful for showing students they have a place and community on campus. Clubs can help students make friends and give them a place to explore their interests in a safe environment. Student life and connection on campus can also help maintain your student body and prevent students from transferring.
- Career outcomes: Students want to ensure that your school will help prepare them for their desired field, from teaching essential knowledge and skills in their programs to faculty efforts to help them outside of the classroom. Many higher education institutions offer job fairs to bring employers to campus and connect students with potential jobs and internships. You might even provide a team of faculty that can advise students on career development and teach them essential skills, like writing a resume or cover letter and preparing for interviews.
- Professors: A good staff of knowledgeable professors can attract students. Students will do careful research on professors during course registration to ensure they get the best of the best. Highlighting your professors and their expertise can show your potential students that you offer quality teachers.
While students might prioritize one factor over the others, several often come into play when they make decisions. Understanding what students value can help them choose your school over your higher education competition. To improve how you promote these qualities, you can look at what competing institutions are doing.
How Watermark Can Help You Surpass Your Competition
Working to improve your institution is incredibly important. However, if your institution is not as technologically advanced or efficient as other institutions, your enrollment might suffer. Thus, you should consider technology solutions to stay up to date.
Technology is an essential aspect of maintaining a thriving higher education institution. Even before COVID-19 pushed many programs online, schools relied on the latest technology to communicate with faculty and students and collect valuable data about the institution. Watermark's centralized data collection and analysis solutions offer several functions to provide you with the information you need to stand apart from competing schools.
Watermark's solutions can help you keep up with competing institutions. You can conduct program evaluations and curriculum mapping and track program success and highlight areas where students can learn more. When you have access to this kind of data, you can ensure your programs can compete with similar ones from other institutions.
Faculty achievements can help highlight your professor's expertise, though tracking what every professor is doing can be challenging. A centralized, automatic data collection service like Watermark Faculty Success can help higher education institutions quickly access and use information about faculty projects in reports and publications to share it with potential students to attract students looking for the best professors.
Quality technology can help your school stay resilient in times of change, allowing you to adjust quickly to shifting circumstances. When learning environments change — such as in the case of online learning — data collection tools can allow you to make stronger decisions that positively impact your higher education institution.
Request a Demo Today
When there are several types of competition between higher education institutions, investing in the right tools can help your school easily collect and manage data, so you can highlight what makes your school unique.
At Watermark, we have over 20 years of experience working with higher education institutions, so we understand your unique needs. With several centralized solutions that require no manual input, you can streamline various internal functions to drive improvement and growth at your school.
Request a demo from Watermark today and equip your school with the tools it needs to set it apart from your competition.
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