Take part and contribute to improve strengthen the awareness of sustainability in higher education institutions in Croatia

Knowledge is the most valuable resource in our post-industrial society, so higher education became the essential driver of economic development, welfare and well-being of each society…

Since knowledge is the most valuable resource in our post-industrial society, higher education became the essential driver of economic development, welfare and well-being of each individual and of the whole society. Therefore, the traditional role of higher education and higher education institutions today significantly changed and became more important, due to the fact that the higher education institutions are expected to be the centre of intellectual, cultural, social and technological development of the community, and to be a fundamental lever of sustainable development.

Higher education is facing a wide range of challenges and difficulties in fulfilling its tasks. Higher education environment is changing under the impact of social needs development and labor market transformations. The higher education market continuously and dramatically develops and changes, what causes higher education institutions to become more market oriented due to intense internationalization of higher education, the specific behaviour of users and higher prices of products in education. Heterogeneity as a feature of the student population led to the occurrence of individualism in the higher education market, so the focus of higher education institutions should be directed to consumers as individuals, who have the most important role in defining the demand and specifics of the higher education market. Students evaluate higher education institutions expecting to obtain contemporary, alluring and applicable product, high service performance and quality, seeking to obtain added value. On the other hand, the business sector requests faster and better adaptation of curricula demands of modern business and labour market needs. Inclusion of Croatian higher education in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and European Research Area (ERA), imposed requirements to higher education institutions for additional efforts in adaption of European standards due to the increase of international competitiveness. The concept of the service quality in higher education institutions gained even greater significance as a result of introduction and implementation of the Bologna process in higher education institutions, what led to the need to emphasize the importance and to intensify the service quality concept, and to put students in the focus, which contributed to the increase of competition in the higher education market.

As a reply to new social and economic requests, yet under the influence of present critique of marketing as a scientific discipline and as a practice, the orientation of marketing, one amongst the youngest scientific disciplines, significantly changed over the past decades. In the scientific literature, the concept of sustainable marketing is considered as an obligation, not as an option, and that concept developed as a third evolution phase of green marketing that evolved from the economy of the sustainable development. In this new marketing era, marketing doesn’t consider clients only as consumers of goods and services. Consumers are now considered as complete human beings. Sustainable marketing is defined as a balancing approach that includes and integrates economic, environmental and social goals during the entire product life cycle, and therefore it can be considered a broader management concept that simultaneously satisfies consumers, owners and other stakeholders.

In order to adjust their “product” to the market demands and current conditions, and to define appropriate sustainable marketing strategy, higher education institutions must be modern oriented and must understand all the factors and circumstances that create the higher education market, what is an essence of every modern higher education institution. The process of defining a sustainable marketing strategy of higher education institutions includes an analysis of existing “products”, identification of new opportunities, complete research process and positioning in relation to the competition. The need to change marketing strategies to more “sustainable” appears as a natural sequence of events and conditions present in the society, which includes defining the optimal way of achieving defined goals, considering marketing as a business and control function, but also as a way of thinking, that should contribute to improve management processes and to adapt their “product” to the needs of the target market and society. It should be noted that the application of the concept of sustainable development in marketing theory and practice does not suggest immediate gain of competitive advantages because that approach is long-term oriented, and the lack of it can cause irreparable damage.

Because of the subjects mentioned before, and under a considerable impact of development of technological innovations, their wide acceptance and a high level of application in all segments of society, logically, there occurred a need of different approach of defining and creating competitive products, choosing adequate product price range, location and mode of product distribution, and appropriate way of promotion of such products to selected target group of consumers.

In that sense, marketing skills and their application to the higher education “product” can contribute in the process of creating and gaining competitive advantage that can be maintained for an extended and long period of time, that ensures subsistence, continuous growth and development to the higher education institutions in nowdays’ competitive and turbulent higher education marketplace.

Considering the fact that a number of authors discuss the insufficiency and inadequacy of positive connections between marketing theory and marketing instruments, with a special accent put on public institutions of higher education, there is a need to investigate these subjects expecting that the future research will contribute to new theory development and to the improvement of business practices of public higher education institutions, offering them an opportunity and capability to use different combinations of instruments of marketing mix of higher education services that contribute to the achievement of sustainable competitive advantage in the higher education market, so the higher education institutions could achieve its purpose, mission and vision.



U našem postindustrijskom društvu znanje je najcjenjeniji resurs, a visoko obrazovanje osnovni preduvjet za ekonomski razvoj, dobrobit i blagostanje svakog pojedinca, pa tako i društva u cjelini. Zbog toga je tradicionalna uloga visokog obrazovanja i visokoobrazovnih institucija danas bitno značajnija te se od njih očekuje da budu središta intelektualnog, kulturnog, socijalnog i tehnološkog razvoja društvene zajednice, odnosno da budu temeljna poluga održivog razvoja društva u cjelini.

Visoko obrazovanje suočeno je s nizom teškoća i izazova u ispunjavanju svoje zadaće. Na tržištu znanja kontinuirano se događaju značajne promjene, pa se pred visokoobrazovne institucije postavlja zahtjev za povećanjem stupnja marketinške orijentacije zbog sve intenzivnije internacionalizacije visokog obrazovanja, specifičnog ponašanja korisnika i sve skupljeg proizvoda u obrazovanju. Heterogenost, kao obilježje studentske populacije, doprinijela je pojavi individualizma na tržištu visokog obrazovanja, stoga središte interesa visokoobrazovnih institucija treba biti usmjereno ka korisnicima pojedincima koji u najvećoj mjeri utječu na definiranje tržišta visokog obrazovanja. Studenti procjenjuju visokoobrazovne institucije očekujući od njih suvremeniji i u praksi primjenjiv proizvod i kvalitetniju uslugu, tražeći dodanu vrijednost te kao u svakoj drugoj kupnji, za svoj novac očekuju isporučenu vrijednost. S druge strane, i gospodarski sektor očekuje bržu i bolju prilagodbu obrazovnih programa zahtjevima suvremenog poslovanja i potrebama tržišta rada. Uključivanje hrvatskog visokog obrazovanja u Europski visokoobrazovni prostor i Europski istraživački prostor, visokoobrazovnim institucijama nameće zahtjev za dodatnim naporima u prilagodbi europskim standardima i povećanju međunarodne konkurentnosti. Pojam i sustav kvalitete usluga visokoobrazovnih institucija dobio je još veće značenje uvođenjem i provedbom Bolonjskog procesa na visokoobrazovnim institucijama te se one još intenzivnije okreću kvaliteti i stavljaju studente u prvi plan, čemu je doprinijela i sve veća konkurencija na tržištu visokog obrazovanja.

Kao odgovor na nove društvene i ekonomske potrebe, a pod utjecajem kritika marketinga kao znanstvene i praktične discipline, orijentacija ove, jedne od mlađih znanstvenih disciplina, značajno se mijenjala tijekom posljednjih nekoliko desetljeća. Koncept održivog marketinga u suvremenoj znanstvenoj literaturi danas se drži obvezom, a ne opcijom, a nastao je kao treća faza evolucije pojma zelenog marketinga koja je proizašla iz ekonomije održivog razvoja. U toj novoj, posljednjoj eri marketinga, marketing ne gleda na potrošače kao na konzumente proizvoda i usluga, već ih promatra kao cjelovita ljudska bića. Održivi marketing definiran je primjenom pristupa balansiranja koji uključuje i integrira ekonomske, ekološke i društvene ciljeve tijekom čitavog životnog ciklusa proizvoda, pa ga se može držati širim upravljačkim konceptom koji istovremeno zadovoljava potrošače, vlasnike i druge interesne skupine. Na održivi marketing može se gledati kao na marketing koji je dio i u funkciji održivog ekonomskog razvoja, koji u svojoj osnovi predstavlja upravljački alat koji je i sam po sebi održiv.Kako bi visokoobrazovna institucija prilagodila svoj „proizvod“ potražnji na tržištu i suvremenim uvjetima te definirala odgovarajuću održivu marketinšku strategiju, mora biti suvremeno orijentirana i mora razumijevati sve čimbenike i okolnosti koji kreiraju tržište visokog obrazovanja. Proces definiranja održive strategije visokoobrazovnih institucija obuhvaća analizu postojećih „proizvoda“, ali i identificiranje novih mogućnosti, istraživanje i pozicioniranje u odnosu na konkurenciju. Potreba za izmjenom marketinške strategije u „održiviju“ javlja se kao prirodni slijed okolnosti i uvjeta u društvu kao cjelini, što podrazumijeva definiranje optimalnih načina postizanja definiranih ciljeva, imajući u vidu da marketing kao poslovna i upravljačka funkcija, ali i način promišljanja, treba pridonijeti poboljšanju upravljačkih procesa usklađivanjem svojih „proizvoda“ s potrebama ciljnih tržišta i društva u cjelini. Pri tome valja istaknuti da primjena koncepta održivog razvoja u marketinškoj teoriji i praksi ne sugerira trenutačno stvaranje konkurentske prednosti, jer to je pristup koji je dugoročno orijentiran, a nedostatak istog može prouzročiti nepopravljive štete. Zbog navedenoga, a uz nezanemariv utjecaj razvoja tehnoloških dostignuća, njihove prihvaćenosti i visoke razine primjene u svim segmentima društva, logičkim slijedom kao imperativ se nameće precizno definiranje i kreiranje konkurentnih proizvoda, definiranje odgovarajuće cijene proizvoda, lokacije i načina distribucije proizvoda te adekvatan način promoviranja odabranoj ciljnoj skupini potrošača.

U tom smislu, marketinška znanja i njihova primjena na „proizvod“ visokog obrazovanja, mogu doprinijeti stvaranju i održavanju konkurentske prednosti na dugo vremensko razdoblje, a koja kao imperativ na današnjem konkurentnom i turbulentnom tržištu visokog obrazovanja omogućuje samoodržanje te stalni rast i razvoj visokih učilišta.

S obzirom na činjenicu da brojni autori ističu nedovoljnu i neadekvatnu primjenu marketinga i marketinških instrumenata, s naglaskom na javne visokoobrazovne institucije, nameće se potreba istraživanja navedene tematike koja će rezultirati s ciljem stjecanja novih spoznaja, mogućnosti i unaprjeđenja poslovne prakse javnih visokoobrazovnih institucija, kako bi pomoću različitih kombinacija instrumentarija marketinškog miksa visokoobrazovnih usluga, lakše ostvarile održivu konkurentsku prednost na tržištu visokog obrazovanja s ciljem ostvarivanja svoje svrhe, misije i vizije.

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