A “flight to quality” appears to be emerging in the higher education marketplace, with institutions becoming more reliant upon their own websites and marketing initiatives to attract prospective students, according to Gray Reports, a monthly review of demand trends compiled by Gray Associates, a higher education strategy consulting firm.
While external inquiries, i.e. generated by third-party web sites, were off 10 percent in May, a level consistent with the rest of 2017, branded inquiries, which search for a specific school, experienced a smaller drop, just seven percent. Currently, branded inquiries account for around one-third of all leads but that share could rise if trends continue.
“If branded inquiries become more prevalent, awareness and preference for an institution’s brand will increase in importance,” said Gray CEO, Robert Atkins. “Since most institutions do not have the budget to support brand marketing, this trend may favor bigger schools with stronger brands and more ability to fund brand marketing and schools with well-defined niches in which they are well-known and well-regarded.”
Student inquiry volume is a harbinger of application trends as well as a data point used for program portfolio assessment and strategy. Overall inquiries were down just 2.9 percent year-over-year for May, the smallest decline since November 2016. However, it is “too early to tell whether this is a blip or a trend,” Mr. Atkins noted.(more…)
Every month, Gray releases the latest student and employer demand trends in higher education. Here are a few of the trends from May of 2017 that we released in June:Overall…
This spring, the retiring President of a Community College chose Gray to help review the College’s program portfolio as part of his final strategic plan. The College served 4,500 credit and non-credit students in rural Massachusetts. It had declining enrollment, reduced funding, and a very broad portfolio of academic programs. “If you put all of these challenges together,” explained the President, “rather than trying to fight amongst ourselves, I thought engaging with Gray would be a good idea. I will tell you, I was never, and am not a fan of consultants. But there are times, and this was one of them, when you really need an independent review for a number of reasons.”
“Gray helped us focus and also highlighted a number of areas where we have the opportunity to grow.”
A Community College President serving 4,500 students