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Student experience key in university marketplace

A senior leader at Victoria University says a designed ‘student experience’ will help distinguish universities and become increasingly important for prospective students. 

VU Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Bentley said that to assert themselves in an increasingly competitive marketplace, universities must place as much emphasis on the unique experience they can offer as they do on their course offerings.

“In a changing market, universities will need to increasingly sell the experiences they can offer students much in the same way that banks, airlines and other customer-focused organisations highlight customer experience,” Professor Bentley said.

“This could include the activities, support, facilities, career preparation, and teaching style a university offers, among other criteria.

“Universities can distinguish themselves through this student experience, shaped by the needs and wants of its students,” he said.

Victoria University is currently drawing on recently conducted in-depth ‘persona research’ that identifies characteristics of its key market segments to help shape the design of the VU student experience.

Professor Bentley said this approach – now taking place at all universities around Australia – will increasingly influence how courses are marketed.

He added that the higher education sector will become more obviously diverse as each organisation tailors its communication and courses to a clear institutional ‘personality’.

“Diversification through differentiating student experiences will become essential for survival in the Australian higher education market.

“VU is attempting to distinguish itself by focusing on its unique attributes of being a dual-sector university, and its multicultural and age-diverse student population.

“And we are not alone in developing a more complete picture of what it is that our students really want instead of hypothesising about what we think they want or what we think they should want,” he said.

Professor Bentley is available for interview.

Media contact:
Ann Marie Angebrandt:
Phone: +61 3 9919 5487
Email: annmarie.angebrandt@vu.edu.au

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