A few month ago I wrote that the students alone want to (and should) decide what best suits them. I also added that despite the decision being taken by the student and the tuition fees often being payed by loving parents, the responsibility for the quality and the success of education remains that of the institution. Students want, need and deserve very personal solutions, a bespoke learning experience for a contemporary multinational, omnichannel-communicating and inclusive citizen of the world. Because of the pipeline processes and metaphors under which most executives (even in private Higher Education) and their marketing staff or agencies have developed, their mental models of the world have been focused first on products (programes), and, then, the traditional distribution, marketing and selling channels (GLEN, 2020). Despite their acclaimed student-centricity, most of the certifying academic programs delivered by schools are developed for clearly targeted entities, known segments of prospect or returning students. Schools, at least in private education, far too often act as luxury brands focusing on “student alpha”, from whom they capture data, to whom they endlessly target ads, programs, invitations to open in-house-events, and with whom they hopefully close a transaction, an enrollment. All this needs to happen in the most cost effective manner possible.
A new generation and Galileo
I have never believed this “classic” approach to be effective for Higher Education, especially so for the long run. Educational institutions need to first focus on how they could really engage with human beings in order to develop and deliver custom solutions and experiences within a mutually beneficial long-term relationship where they can exchange high value continuously (GLEN, 2020): Real Life-long-Learning as a radical approach!
For the first time in history, universities are nearly exclusively collaborating with a demographic cohort with widespread access to smartphones. A digitally native generation, we know to be very concerned about academic performance and job prospects, but even more prone to mental illness. Gen Z is no longer willing to play nice in the linear, online/offline, “multi-channel” world that institutions are still trying to “sell” them. Today’s game is omni-personal and the only way to come close to omni-personal relationships is to completely and radically rethink what education really is and for whom and how it is delivered:
In an omni-personal world the sun (the student) never revolves around the earth. The earth (the school) revolves around the sun (GLEN, 2020).
Brigger, T., Education 4.0 (a Whitepaper), 2020
Globe Newswire, The 7 Rules For Reinventing Your Luxury Business Model Post Pandemic. (28.04.2020), Bloomberg (press releases)
Illustration after Giusto Sustermans painting of Galileo Galilei in 1636