Can colleges leverage the “stay-ducation” trend?


Is “stay-ducation” going to be the new buzzword in university offerings?

As this year’s university undergraduate intake is set to be the last under the old fee system, will there be a growing demand for a “stay-ducation” model to curb rising costs?

Stay-ducation means people staying at home or in their local area to study at university, rather than moving far away from their parents and hometowns as has been normal over the past few decades. Stay-ducation has become a permanent part of our vernacular and judging by the conversations I’ve had this week with education providers, the stay-ducation model could be on the rise.

I say this because I’ve just completed Marketing Week’s cover feature for next week, which looks at universities re-evaluating, revamping and refreshing their marketing strategies to make way for the new fee system and a raft of private providers entering the space.

A common theme is a greater focus on market research and utilising it to get in touch with the student body, competitor offerings, and attitudes across the wider community. And according to a YouGov survey of 1,097 students this year, conducted with, 78% said increased lower cost options for full time university courses, such as increased offerings from further education providers, should be made available.

Enter names such as Stockport College, one of a range of further education institutions responding to this market insight. In what I would describe as a win-win situation, it is increasing the degree courses it offers with partner universities such as Manchester Metropolitan.

Not only will the degrees come under fees of around £6,000 as opposed to the £9,000 maximum rate but Stockport will be marketing to the wider area as a local option that will keep costs in check. This is something that even universities, such as the private University of Buckingham, will be ramping up this year, as marketing director Alistair Alcock anticipates that rising fees will force more students to reconsider moving away to study.

But it is a double edged relationship that emerges, as colleges like Stockport throw their hats into the ever growing ring that is becoming the UK education sector to provide alternatives to traditional campus based education. On the one hand they become competition for traditional education providers, but on the other hand, as Stockport vice principal Dave Golding explains, partnering with colleges allows a university to widen their participation levels and their local links.

He says that further education colleges often have links to local schools and employers that universities might not have as the latter will be more likely to have relationships with national employers. He even claims that universities that are “far-sighted” will be actively looking to build more local relationships.

And, colleges like Stockport pay universities a fee for their degree awarding services, so there is a positive financial relationship for the university to benefit from too.

Promoting stay-ducation may be the saving grace for the education providers looking to overcome the heightened competition that is to arrive in the market. But it obviously requires skilled marketers who can productively utilise the insights garnered from a local community, so stay-ducation becomes more than a buzz-word, but a promising business model.

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