Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Spin and the universities 

The Straits Times published an opinion piece on spin today from the Los Angeles Times. Excerpt:

It’s an old story that the news and our understanding of it are affected — or afflicted — by “spin,” meaning efforts by partisans to make us see things their way. But this treatment of the mechanics of spin as news in its own right seems more recent. And so does the spread of spin and the awareness of its mechanics to areas far beyond politics.
Singapore universities would probably see the value of spin, judging from their latest recruitment activities.

Varsities adopt marketing approach to recruitment
[T]he three local universities have already spent tens of thousands on advertising campaigns to draw students. In stark contrast to former no-frills application proceedings, this year, marketing strategies include talks at five-star hotels, outdoor concerts and even pre-entry undergraduate courses...

Director Alan Goh of the Office of Admissions at the Singapore Management University (SMU) said: “The old model in which you sit back like a retailer is long gone. Today, you need to take a marketing approach to recruitment.”...
Indeed, the SMU seems the most adept at it. Not surprising perhaps for a university that, relative to the other local universities, seems to stress presentation in its curriculum. In fact, it looks like the SMU can even get a newspaper to weave its marketing spin for it.

SMU – Going from being different to making a difference
FIVE years since it burst upon Singapore’s staid education scene, the Singapore Management University (SMU) has gone beyond making American-style teaching in higher education a hot new trend. It is now a brand leader, to quote Mr Alan Goh, the university’s sharply dressed director of undergraduate admissions and a respected marketing maven himself...

Its liberal but rigorous pedagogy...and institutional autonomy have gained the school almost a cult status among Singapore’s students. More importantly, it has established itself as such a reliable source of graduates among the nation’s top corporations, that for two years running, the heads of several blue-chip companies have vouched for them in eye-catching university recruitment advertisements...

There are statistics to back this up. According to a study by market research company Taylor Nelson Sofres last November, SMU has the makings of a “rising star”...

Above all, it speaks of the commitment of the faculty. How many universities are there in the world, let alone in Singapore, where a dean kick-starts a scholarship fund by paying a whopping $80,000 out of his own savings to fund two needy but bright young men’s studies?...
It’s not too often that you see a journalist describe an institution or organisation in almost gushing terms without those terms being in quotation marks and attributable to a source, preferably reliable. Not that the story didn’t have its fair share of anecdotal accounts, another favourite marketing technique.

Its fee increase notwithstanding, I think the SMU will be successful in establishing itself as an educational icon in Singapore.


Interesting as always. Along the same lines... what is your take on Universita 21?

I haven't really given much thought to Universitas 21, so don't really have a view on it. It's tv advertisement is pretty lame, though.

Hope it doesn't end up like the UK e-University.

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