One of the most recognized multi-sectoral providers of education across the globe, Holmes Institute has emerged to be one of the most popular universities in Australia for the international as well as regional students. Established in the year of 1963, the Holmes Institute has its campuses in all the major destinations of Australia, including Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Hong Kong and Gold Cost ((Holmes.edu.au 2017)). One of the major reasons as to why amongst all the reputed educational institutions of Australia, the Holmes Institute has achieved such recognition, is that the institute offers a wide range of academic courses to its students. While on the one hand, the institute is known for providing undergraduate and postgraduate courses in business management, on the other hand, it also offers a diverse range of vocational courses such as diploma of Software Development & IT, Diploma of Digital Media Tech, Diploma of Hospitality and Diploma of Accounting, Diploma of Applied Fashion and Technology, Diploma of Salon Management and others. Apart from the domestic students residing in Australia, the institute also witnesses a remarkable inflow of foreign especially Asian students. The unique selling point of the Holmes Institute has been that the institute has always tried its best to align its educational products with the demands of the labour market. Hence, considering the growing number of students in Holmes Institute, and greater recognition of the institute, the following report intends to discuss and critically analyse the important factors that influence the students to study in Holmes Institute. After careful evaluation, the report also intends to offer recommendations that can help other universities attract the attention of international students via continuous quality improvement process and other means
Demographic and Psychographic Characteristics of the Sample Students:
The demographic as well as psychographic segmentation of the consumer base plays a highly important role in enabling an organization determines its potential consumer base. It has been observed that there are 43 universities in Australia: 40 public universities, two international universities, and one private university, and yet a huge number of students choose to study in Holmes Institute (Marginson 2014). To understand the important factors that lead the students to come abroad and choose the Holmes Institute, one needs to know the demographic and psychographic characteristics of the students studying at Holmes. For this purpose, a sample of 40 students were being selected, out of which 35 students are international students, while 5 are domestic students of Australia. Accordingly, the demographic and psychographic characteristics of the students have been assessed.
Demographic Characteristics: The demographic segmentation includes the average age, income, or the educational qualification of the people belonging to the specific segment of the target audience. After careful study of the sample students, it has been observed that approximately 25 of the 35 international students, have completed their secondary school, and has enrolled themselves in Bachelor Degree courses in Holmes Institute (Hargreaves et al. 2014). Most of the students are coming from Asian countries, out of which Indian students account for a high proportion of the international students in Holmes Institute. In fact, the number of higher education visa applications lodged by students in India to study in Australia rose from 1,987 to 4,148 in the year to September 2013, and accordingly the total number of students studying in Holmes Institute coming from Australia has increased and in fact doubled over the last five years (Hargreaves et al. 2014). Most of the students (approximately 37) belong to the high or middle socio-economic section of the society. Since Holmes Institute offers a diverse range of scholarship programs to the meritorious students coming from abroad, the students belonging to the middle section of the society also come here to pursue higher education at Holmes Institute. However, apart from India, the top student visa lodgements in the last year were China, Vietnam, Brazil as well as Nepal. Most of the students are self-financed, and are engaged in jobs of sales assistants, waiters and part-time office cashiers in Australian organizations. The age of most of the students lie between 15 to 30 years.
Psychographic Characteristics: The values, attitudes or lifestyles of the students studying in Holmes Institute should also be assessed. Most of the students studying at Holmes are more interested in pursuing a vocational course that can fetch them a high salary job within and outside Australia. The international students studying here usually wish to earn a certificate from a foreign university, and they easily choose Holmes because it offers them scholarship programs as well as the right to stay and work in Australia for two years after finishing their course. Because of the diverse atmosphere, the international students, coming from third world nations, usually choose Holmes Institute. Out of the 40 respondents, 38 students claimed that they chose Holmes as a foundation of their successful career paths, rather than an institution to earn a degree from.
Factors Influencing Consumer Decision to Study at Holmes:
Located at the heart of Australia, the Holmes University has been able to attract the attention of a huge number of students, both staying within as well as outside Australia. The first and foremost reason behind choosing Holmes Institute over any other educational service provider of Australia is that the institute offers a diverse range of courses to its students. Starting with secondary or higher secondary education, till vocational education and training programs, Holmes Institute has been helpful enough in shaping the academic career of the students. However, the reputation of the Holmes Institute largely rests in the VET educational courses offered by it, that includes courses on Diploma on Hospitality Management and accounting or Information Technology. Further, approximately 50% of the respondents researched claimed that they chose Holmes, as Holmes Recruit, the recruiting body of the institute also offers employment opportunities to its meritorious students. Other universities, which are relatively cheaper than the Homes Institute, such as Western Sydney University, do not offer a diverse cultural set up, and thus the international students often complain of bullying. However, most of the students studying at Holmes Institute, chose to study here because of the diverse, friendly and warm culture followed at the institute, Academic Support Classes offered on weekly basis to the students and the job opportunities provided by the institute. Some of the students also said that they chose the institute as it offers them to enjoy a flexible schedule, whereby they can balance their academic life with professional commitments. Unlike the University of Queensland or University of Sydney, the Holmes Institute does have a stringent policy regarding student attendance, and thus the students can also work and finance while completing their vocational courses (Derricott 2014). Holmes Institute students also have the option to study a subject for their degree at another university, and this form of flexible system of education proves to be highly beneficial, especially to the international students of the institute.
To round it up, the ethnicity, income and lifestyle are the three major factors that have influenced the consumer decision of the students studying at Holmes Institute. In case of international students, coming from developing nations like China and India, the need to move in to a safe learning environment was necessary, and Holmes Institute helped in the actualization of this wish. Next, the income is an important factor here. The students who can afford to visit an international university, but cannot invest an enormous amount of money for the same, chose to come here. Most of the people coming here wish to earn a certificate from a foreign university, and go back to their own nation, for enjoying better professional prospects in the respective home countries. 35 students claimed that they were not thinking about the permanent residency in Australia, and came to study at Holmes Institute only for earning a certificate, and distinguishing themselves from other students in their native lands. It is equally important to understand how the students arrived at the decision to study at Holmes (Stromquist and Monkman 2014). Most of the students came to know about the institute from their family members and friends, who had also come to Holmes Institute for completion of higher studies. A considerable number of students from Asian countries also settle down in Australia since the foreign students now have the right to stay and work in Australia for two years after finishing their course. Consequently, the international students also get the opportunity of staying with their family members, friends or relatives in Australia that would not have been possible in case of any foreign university (Kaiser et al. 2014). Besides, some students, though less in number, also stated that they heard of the University while enrolling in different online courses. Besides, a large number of students also claimed that they came to know about the university from the social networking sites like Facebook, where the infrastructure of the campuses, a variety of online courses as well as the pictures of the social activities in the colleges attracted them the most.
Role of Student Motivation, Personality and Emotion in Influencing Consumer Purchasing Decision at Holmes Institute:
While investigating the factors which might have influenced the researched students to come up to Australia, it has been observed that the poor employment scenario in the Asian countries is one of the major reasons. Most of the students coming to Holmes wishes to earn a certificate from a foreign university that would at least help them distinguish themselves in the home country in the job market. Studying in foreign universities largely enhance the employability of the Asian students. Apart from the job prospects, and fat salary factor, studying in foreign university is also associated with higher social status that has also motivated the students to come here. They preferred Holmes Institute over other Australian universities, because of the lenient process of administration as well as comparatively low fee structure at the University. The Holmes Institute charges merely $12,500 for 40 weeks (Holmes.edu.au 2017). The ambitious students who wish to distinguish themselves from others wish to pursue higher education here. The students are usually self-motivated individuals, who wish to make career pathways on their own. Since Holmes Institute allows flexible schedule to the students, the students can balance their academic and professional life in a very effective way (Psacharopoulos 2014). More than the reputation, the students coming to Holmes for higher education are concerned about safety and familiarity in a warm, positive culture.
Recommendations for Education Providers to Attract International Students:
With the proliferation of various international universities in and outside Australia, it has become imperative for the education service providers to adopt effective strategies that can enhance consumer credibility in their services, and help them attract consumers. It is important to discuss the Marshallian Economic theory, where Alfred Marshall claimed that the consumers would avail the service only if it can offer them personal satisfaction. Hence, it is important for the service providers to understand who the members of their potential consumer base are, and what are the needs and wants of the same. Besides, Marshall also claimed that if there is a product and substitute of that product, sales of the substitute will be greater if its price is lower than the price of the original product. Hence, in presence of so many institutions, the education providers may encounter difficulty in retaining their competitive position, unless they agree to offer service at lower rates (Marshall 2015). It should be remembered that the students coming from international locations, are usually less concerned regarding the quality of education provided by the educational institutions, and are more concerned about the certificates of a foreign university. Hence, they can slightly compromise with the name and reputation of the institute, and will prefer to go to a foreign university that offers education at lower price. Hence, lowering the fees would be highly recommended for these institutes.
The concept of emotional advertising is an important concept in the consumer marketing and consumer advertising theory. Emotional advertising is an effective form of communication that companies can use to achieve differentiation from competitors, because this format awakens diverse sensations among audiences. Here, the marketers must first trace the basic wants and needs of the consumers, and as far as the international students are concerned, they wish three things: a safe learning atmosphere free from cultural bias, cooperative faculty and scholarship prospects. Accordingly, while endorsing the service over social media channels or the official website, the educational service providers should highlight their anti-ragging policies within the colleges, as well as specify the number of international students, especially those coming from the Third World nations (Woodall et al. 2014). The pictures and the posts should also show how harmonious and warm the relation between the faculty and students, is at the concerned college. It is important to ensure that the most relevant and appealing information are being made available to the international students. It is recommended that the colleges and universities specify details via useful links regarding the scholarship and financial aid information, instructions for visa applications and sample application essays. Further, it should be noted that the international students coming to Australia usually spend a lump sum amount of money and hence most of them wish to settle with a job after the completion of their studies. Hence, it is recommended that the educational service providers start promoting the internship opportunities as well as work-study programs that can lead the students to potential job placements. Besides, it is also advised that the management authority also showcases alumni from top degree programs and establish a networking program so that the international students can contact alumni for any kind of career advice (Sterling and Huckle 2014). Although most of the students studying abroad, receive funds from families, the same proves to be insufficient owing to the high rate of tuition fees. Hence, at the time of implementation of international recruitment strategies, the colleges should offer scholarship fees in the form of tuition costs tuition costs, so as to incentivize the international students to apply and enrol at the concerned institution.
Holmes Institute has emerged to be one of the most recognized institutes for the international as well as domestic students of Australia. Offering a variety of professional courses at low price, the university has succeeded in offering a caring and supportive learning environment. It is important to mention here that the institute is committed to providing the highest quality education to enable and empower students to seek self-improvement, irrespective of nationality, gender or belief. The institute should remain true to its commitment, and needs to improve the quality of education. Hence, the recruitment of experienced faculty is important. Besides, a very important factor that will draw students to the institute, whether from overseas or right at home, is a community of current and former students promoting their experiences and encouraging prospective to visit their alma mater. Hence, creation of a community is laso recommended
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