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Choosing a University - Entornos de Formación

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Every day there are more options when it comes to studying and that can lead us to doubt the university or course of choice. The best?, That there are no obstacles to study near the house, read on ...


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Choosing a University - Entornos de Formación

  1. 1. CHOOSING A UNIVERSITY In the context of the Spanish higher education sector, it’s difficult to know how to choose the right university and course. There are no longer any barriers to studying near home or far away,
  2. 2. CHOOSING A UNIVERSITY In the context of the Spanish higher education sector, it’s difficult to know how to choose the right university and course. There are no longer any barriers to studying near home or far away, or to choosing one specialism over another. Students hold all the cards for choosing whatever they want, and it’s up to us to make sure they choose us. The reform that Wert, the Spanish Education Minister, is proposing is still at the early stages, but it will open the door to private initiatives. These will include both universities and associated establishments increasing and diversifying the Spanish educational courses on offer. The terms have not yet been fully decided, but it looks like they are headed towards reducing the minimum criteria for qualifications and educational standards in favour of creating a stronger, more open competitive market. In any case, in Spain over the last few years, 19 private campuses have opened, whereas no public ones have been set up. We have to see how all this is going to work, and what ANECA (the Spanish National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation) will say about it. What is definitely true, is that virtually all private establishments, and many of the public ones, are trying to maintain their geographical intake. However, their local clients, students who live in the vicinity, are becoming fewer every day because of the emergence of new competition and a lower number of students due to the falling birth rate. Against this backdrop, the logical response of any company or university is: - To create unique and different niche qualifications, whilst appreciating everything involved with such an investment of resources and opportunities; - To focus the search on students living outside their geographical area, in this case, through distance courses.
  3. 3. CHOOSING A UNIVERSITY OK, perfect! The higher education sector is, at the end of the day, a company that has to co-exist with others, and which therefore has to find its own niche. Online training and highly vertical studies are action areas in any medium-term strategic plan. So, what problems does this new flood of initiatives pose? From the student’s point of view, we have to come back to the heading at the start of this section: which university should I pick to guarantee the best results? Might it be everything that looks good, in this case, for my personal development? In the case of choosing popular courses such as Business Administration and Management, or courses with similarly large student numbers, I suspect consumers are going to do what they do when they make travel arrangements: search opinion forums looking for a good quality-to-price ratio. From a management point of view, a university or educational institution, everyone, absolutely everyone, should prune what they don’t need and adapt to the market to set themselves apart in the best way. From a marketing point of view, this might involve offering MOOCs, or other training such as centre-based courses, amongst specific ways of advertising and guerilla marketing. From a quality point of view, you have to show you are proud of what you are offering. You have to demonstrate to future students they have made a good choice in a university system where quality processes are strictly linked to results. Maybe this is a first approximation to the American model, with European nuances. Content and teaching have to be fully in sync with student expectations and with educational goals. There needs to be quality content, with a clear and direct methodology and a rock-solid teaching design, so teachers can be given free rein to achieving their own goals.
  4. 4. CHOOSING A UNIVERSITY From an infrastructure point of view, you have to really take care of the virtual world the students inhabit. In this case, the virtual environment has to be friendly and sociable, and also able to encourage learning, a place where students have their own private space but also a shared space. It has to function as an area for both formal and informal learning. It has to be a system that binds and integrates the functions of learning and social interaction, within a solid framework of applications and infrastructures that work together to support teaching. At Entornos, we are fully aware of all this, and we work with customers in this change process. At the end of the day, educational technology turns the virtual learning environment into the streets, city lighting, buildings and classrooms of a physical university. What is really important is what happens inside this virtual world and, to make it happen successfully, we have to be excellent architects and designers. Salva Pellicer May,17
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