Demarketing of Higher Education - Thinking Out of the Box or Out of Focus?
Institute for Small Business & Entrepreneurship conference. Manchester, UK, November, 2014
9 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2014
Date Written: November 5, 2014
Objectives - The purpose of this paper is to highlight the strategies being undertaken by higher education institutions (HEIs) to leverage their bottom-line especially in situations where public funding has been removed and they are left with no other option but self-funding. Strategies have ranged from internationalisation i.e. setting up overseas branch campuses; aggressive recruitment drive for international students; and launch of new programmes to attract a wider market i.e. by demarketing the traditional course provisions in a bid to think out-of-the-box.
Prior Work - The 2014 book entitled "Demarketing" edited by Nigel Bradley and Jim Blythe featured an assemblage of demarketing variants - from general to selective, and ostensible to unintentional. The new course launches like the bold attempt at the University of Missouri on the relationship between hip hop artists opens the discourse on the future trajectory of higher education. Are HEIs following the market demand? Demarketing traditional provisions? Desperate for survival by reaching out to a previously disinterested audience? Should they?
Approach - This exploratory study is based on a documentary analysis of the debate on the future of curriculum development in HEIs in general and using the exemplar of an unconventional course launch – notably “English 2169: Jay-Z and Kanye West,” at the University of Missouri, as a case illustration.
Results - The main results show that instructors have, in the past, based their syllabi on celebrities - from Georgetown University’s sociology department offering a class on “Sociology of Hip-Hop - Urban Theodicy of Jay-Z” in 2011, to Julius Bailey's academic textbook “The Cultural Impact of Kanye West” forthcoming in 2014. Similarly, the University of South Carolina offered a course on “The Sociology of Fame and Lady Gaga” in 2009, and the department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers offered a course revolving around Jay Z’s wife, “Politicizing Beyonce” in 2012. The University of California Berkeley students could once take a philosophy class based on The Simpsons.
Implications - The persuasive arguments advanced by the institution, in an attempt to justify the course launch revolves around “…likening the academic study of hip hop now to the study of film back when movies were still seen as ‘trash for the masses,’” and the need to think out of the box. Evidently, an attempt has been made to capture the relationship between hip hop artists and poetry, as well as optimism enshrined in the American Dream and the attendant “Audacity of Hope”. Meanwhile, these endeavours and the accompanying pedagogical stance still raise some interesting questions on the extent of utility associated with such offerings.”
Keywords: Enterprise education, Celebrity course launches, Qualitative research
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