A brand-new Ford Fiesta (£12,715). [1] A factory fresh iPhone 7 (£599). [2] A 65” 4K LG OLED TV (£3,899). [3] A 15-night Caribbean cruise for a family of 4 (£3,996).  [4] A weekly food shop for 2 years (£5,532.80). [5] Plus £250 cash is still less than the lowest possible 3-year tuition fee for someone studying in England (£27,000). It is common for some students who study Masters courses in addition their undergraduate degree to amass a debt of £80,000. [6]

Tuition fees are set to rise again too with £9,250 being the new figure. “Almost all universities in England will be able to introduce annual increases to tuition fees until 2020, in a deal pushing legislation through Parliament before the general election occurred.” [7]

The last time tuition fees increased a sizeable drop in enrolment occurred. (See below)

[8] Despite this drop, the graph clearly illustrates that, on the whole, University enrolment is on the increase since the early 2000’s. The increase in enrolment and the increase in fees have led to a change in how Universities see students.

Now Universities are run more like a business than ever before. Currently studying at university, this author has seen first-hand how universities have adopted a customer focused model influenced directly by the correlation between numbers of students and revenue. Run more like a business, many people feel as though the desire to educate is lost on some institutions. Students believe that they care more about bringing greater numbers through the door than the quality of student that graduates from the university.

Notwithstanding this issue, students do have a role to play in the way they are educated. It is too common now to see students who aren’t invested in their further education. They don’t have a passion for what they study and seem to be more focused on enjoying the perks of student life than actually developing their understanding for a given degree and/or field. It can be, and has been, argued that this is because of the fees they pay. [9] As a result of paying so much, a sense of entitlement is created.

Students, as well as their parents, see themselves as customers and expect a level of treatment and service that is akin to the service they would receive from, for example, a car company that they had just purchased a model.

This issue is difficult to address as a University. If universities change their approach they will lose out on students to competitors and in turn see a decline in revenue. To address this issue, universities across the country need to follow best practices and devise a clinical marketing strategy. They also need to align their operations to strategic goals which must be focused around the success of their students.

At Strategic Discourse, we have worked with a number of educational institutions who required a similar change management strategy to find solutions to their problem.  With specialists in our core team, our associates and our advisors, we have a plethora of experience that can be utilised across the education sector. As the population increases, along with the social desirability of studying at university, the previously highlighted issues – as well as new ones – are guaranteed to arise.

If you would like to discuss any issues with educational delivery, please do not hesitate to contact us at: enquiries@strategic-discourse.co.uk

Alternatively, get involved in the conversation on social media using the hashtags #StudentEngagment #GetSDInvolved #EngageToAct


[1] https://www.ford.co.uk/cars/new-fiesta?vehicleNavCategory=all%20cars

[2] https://www.apple.com/uk/shop/buy-iphone/iphone-7

[3] https://www.johnlewis.com/lg-oled65b7v-oled-hdr-4k-ultra-hd-smart-tv-65-with-freeview-play-dolby-atmos-picture-on-metal-design-crescent-stand-silver/p3188410

[4] https://www.pocruises.com/a731a/?search=true&leadmeta=i

[5] https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/blog/how-does-your-household-food-spend-compare

[6] https://www.ucas.com/ucas/postgraduate/finance-and-support/postgraduate-fees-and-funding

[7] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39736310

[8] https://www.hesa.ac.uk/data-and-analysis/students

[9] https://www.economist.com/node/14816843