Buy-One-Get-One-Free on University Tuition! *LIMITED OFFER!*

Like most, I love a bargain. And with the latest geo-fencing technology and tailored email campaigns, brands make sure I’m always aware of their latest promotions and offers. Whether it’s a text from O2 More about a free makeup trial at one of Debenhams’ beauty counters as I enter the store, or an email alert about ASOS final reductions, this personalised approach has changed my purchasing ‘route’ more than once.

However, my email inbox is also filled with more general offers, such as those offered by the promotional phenomenon that is Groupon. On several occasions I have bought Groupon discounts for activities and products that I wouldn’t necessarily have thought of or been interested in at full price. This is probably somewhat fuelled by the sense of urgency in Groupon’s emails – deadlines and ‘limited numbers’ get me thinking quickly about whether I want to jump on board and purchase the offer or miss out.

But now Groupon is going beyond spa days and restaurant deals. The company is offering discounted tuition on behalf of a private Chicago-based institution, National Louis University. Although those signing up for the offer will have to meet certain criteria (including a previous undergraduate degree), it does raise the question: will this spread to universities in the UK?

The media is awash with tales of the harsh reality that many school leavers now face, with astronomical university fees making it a less achievable dream for many. Advice on how to save money as a student to how to bag a training scheme without a degree is becoming commonplace. As more and more students look for other opportunities after completing school, maybe Groupon’s initiative could be a not-too-distant possibility for UK universities?

 

Because it’s not just a worry for students; the rise in fees brings with it fierce competition for universities to get students (and money!) through their doors. Universities have already started to think about marketing themselves with their use of slogans, for example UCL’s ‘London’s Global University’. National Louis University’s decision to team up with Groupon shows an interesting strategic move to attract students. Maybe this is the way forward for universities to get their name out into the public sphere to enable their institutions to reach a large number of potential consumers (students) and increase their competitive edge?

This innovative step also paves the way for other marketing channels to be used by academic institutions. In the not too distant future I could be walking passed LSE and get a text encouraging me to check out their upcoming courses!

One thing is for sure, universities will need to cleverly market themselves over the next few years to ensure they don’t miss out on potential students – and revenue. For now, teaming up with brands and offering discounts could well be the way forward.

Danielle Barrett

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