International Education: Experience of Students and Stakeholders – Quality, Marketing and Customer Journey.
Summary of minor research dissertation for Master of Education (Education & Training) awarded in 2002 by Victoria University, Melbourne, related to international education according to former international students and stakeholders leading to a cyclical quality and marketing paradigm.
Proportionally less funding due to ageing permanent populations and workforces competing for state resources compelled universities and education institutions to attract full fee paying international students to both make up budget short falls, support tax base and subsidise domestic students; temporary immigration to balance government budgets.
Australia has been very successful in attracting students from the Asian region, especially India and China, with commensurate calls for more diversity e.g. students from Europe and Africa. While quality and marketing are strongly related, research into these factors can assist in more systematic and informed marketing, especially through qualitative insights as opposed to interpretation of solely quantitative data.
Existing research is generally restricted to state sponsored surveys of general student population and institutional level students, already on campus. Good research should use qualitative techniques e.g. grounded theory, to allow issues or concerns of students and stakeholders emerge without prescribing factors restricting and limiting insight.
Qualitative research methods can achieve validity, simplicity or utility and reliability of factors to be evaluated in international education at the institutional, faculty of course level as part of quality and marketing system. According to an international education researcher:
“‘If they don’t like our courses, they wouldn’t come would they? I haven’t heard anyone complaining, have you?’
Attitudes such as these, though seldom voiced loudly or publicly, may be covertly present in many higher education institutions. Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that all too many institutions see overseas students solely or mainly in financial terms they are also an important educational resource, bringing fresh perspectives to our culture and are by no means simply a lucrative nuisance to be tolerated”
Already we are observing how globalisation exemplified by increasing mobility for travel, study, work and life leads to more competition or choices for international students. Accordingly, institutions whether international and/or domestic, need to satisfy stakeholders through feedback, comparison and improving performance or quality; not waiting for state sponsored surveys.
To achieve consistent quality of value creation and delivery to the customer, sustained research and feedback from intermediate and final customers is required. Without ongoing internal and systematic market, social and education research there is a danger of institutions, especially large, losing touch with students and stakeholders therefore not delivering a quality service; thus compromising their survival.
For related articles see Andrew Smith’s profile on Academia.