Assessing the marketing communication plan for student recruitment at the North-West University
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The competition for quality students has become a marketing challenge for universities which has led to the implementation of different student recruitment practices. Fierce competition between Higher Education Institutions in South Africa, increased government pressure to transform and declining government subsidies have forced Universities to increase the number of students as a means of increasing their income. The merger of the University of the North West and the Potchefstroom University into the NWU in 2004 resulted in the systematic growth into a diverse multi-campus university which may have an effect on how the Marketing and Recruitment Departments at the three campuses of the NWU approach student recruitment. Some research has been conducted in the fields of student recruitment marketing (Drori et al., 2013; Maringe, 2006), relationship marketing (Beneke & Human, 2010; Mowery & Sampat, 2005), branding of universities and reputation management (Beneke, 2011; Ivy, 2001; Waeraas & Solbakk, 2008). Similarities may occur regarding the content of the literature in the above-mentioned studies, but the study is unique in its focus on the North-West University's marketing communication plan for prospective students, especially in the context of a multi-campus institution of higher education. The primary purpose of this study is to assess what the marketing communication plan for student recruitment at NWU should entail. This was instituted through a mixed-method research approach, namely qualitative research and quantitative research. Firstly, semi-structured interviews were conducted to establish which marketing communication plan was applied by the Directors at the three campuses of NWU with regard to student recruitment. Secondly, an electronic questionnaire was completed by prospective students at all three campuses of NWU to establish what their perceptions are of the marketing communication plan applied by the three campuses of NWU. This research attempts to provide guidelines towards a marketing communication plan for NWU for prospective student recruitment. The findings indicated that a marketing communication plan is being utilized by NWU which includes the marketing communication mix and elements in the recruitment of students. Although present to a certain degree at all three campuses, it is the most visible and measurable on the Potchefstroom campus. The new strategy of a unitary approach that was implemented on 1 July 2017 by NWU resulted in the establishment of one Marketing and Student Recruitment department which will largely address recruitment for all three campuses. It is increasingly evident that new technological innovations and advances, especially in the field of digital media marketing which mostly includes websites and social media and direct contact and database marketing, will be a critical component in any marketing communication plan. The research clearly illustrated that direct contact and database marketing is very much preferred by the campus directors and prospective students as a marketing communication tool. It will thus be to the benefit of NWU to develop and implement a database and data-driven computerised marketing system by using artificial intelligence to curate and create marketing content and personalize messages to connect with and understand the target audience.
- Humanities 
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