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By: Julie Wuthnow  05-Apr-2012
Keywords: Higher Education

Goodbye green marketing, hello university copywriting.

The business model has been revised, the website reconfigured, the new business cards are on the way.

And of course a new blog.  While I may occasionally slip in the odd comment about sustainability, the focus here will be on higher education.  In particular, stories about higher education.

Is the ivory tower on its way out?

But of course they've got a point.  Debt overshadows nearly every element of the sector.  Students are amassing record amounts, and state and federal governments are drowning in it, leaving universities to make due with increasingly paltry budgets.

From pundits to news anchors, the focus is on anything from unhappy students to unhappy parents to unhappy accreditors to unhappy government officials to lower test scores to underprepared / under-employable graduates, and on and on.

Has the ivory tower finally imploded on itself? Has its prior image as aloof and elitist morphed into a reality of wasteful irrelevance?

But, irrelevant?  Nope - higher education is needed now more than ever, to train a skilled workforce and to help us muddle our way through democracy in a complex world.

There is an obvious need for reform, though, which raises the huge question - what kind of reform?

Ironically, I do agree with The Economist that colleges and universities do need to 'slim down, focus, and embrace technology.'  But be more business-like?  What does that mean anyway?

If it means act more like the private sector, it's a hideous idea.  Educational institutions just aren't very good at it, for all sorts of reasons.  And even though we've done a lot to turn students into consumers, there are still important differences (would you ever a mentor a customer?).

So does higher education need to do business better, or do its own business better?

It's time for higher education's next incarnation

Obviously I'm voting for the latter, and creating and sharing new stories about what higher education is, what it's expected to produce, what it means and for whom, need to figure large in this process.  There needs to be a powerful process of re-imagining in order for the reform that is needed to take place.  In other words, new stories need to be written.

I won't be writing them, but I'll be searching them out and reporting them to you when I find something interesting.

Stories are at the heart of all great marketing.

They're winning because they tell a simple and powerful story.  That they 'think different.'  That they care about beautiful design and devices that 'just work.'

They tell a story that they believe in, and that their intensely loyal fans believe in too.*  They also back up the story by producing the goods.

What are the stories that universities, colleges, polytechnics, community colleges, training institutes and private training establishments (PTEs) believe in these days?

And how could those stories translate into the marketing makeover that many (and the sector as a whole) so desperately need?

I'll be doing my best to find out, and to pass those ideas on to you.  From the big stories, to website makeovers, to the latest trends in social media and education-friendly techno-wizardry, you'll find it all here.

I look forward to your comments and questions.  Do you have a story about education that you believe in?

Keywords: Higher Education

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