Pace University is a comprehensive non-profit university that offers its educational services to online students and to the more traditional brick-and-mortar student. As the university competes with global universities, the web presence must convey the value and quality of the education as well as enable the student to make an effective impact on the professional or academic world. The career services center at the university is one of the best at providing Co-op job services to its undergraduate population, the ability to find these positions is available online through the university's joint venture with the Experience Network.
Pace has delivered value to its customers by providing the opportunity to leverage either the online or brick-and-mortar education into an internship at a major company to then ensure a transition onto a paying job after graduation. By securing partnerships and relationships within business, industry, and academia, students educated using either format at well prepared against the competition.
The lucrative business of higher education has introduced a number of new non-profit and for profit providing online and/or brick-and-mortar services to its students. The business end of the transaction does not view these individuals as students however, they are seen as clients whom may or may not complete their education by graduating and thus will negatively impact the university's standing. The quality of the institution is not necessarily a function of whether the education is web-based or in a traditional learning environment nor is the quality ostensibly a function of the age.
The age of internet marketing has enabled traditional universities to reach a broader and more diverse student body whilst enabling an education to individuals restricted to remote locations, including members actively serving in the military. According to Mastacan (2009), "Internet marketing uses the power of electronic commerce to sell and market products. Electronic commerce refers to any market on the internet. Electronic commerce supports selling, buying, and trading of products or services over the internet. Internet marketing forms a subset of electronic commerce." (Mastacan, 2009)
Pace University, a private and professionally oriented (Business & Finance Week, 2009) is a non-profit university with brick-and-mortar operations as well as a burgeoning online web presence both nationally and internationally. The university's core strength is in business, which the university model has broadened to offer a breadth of online MBA and MPA courses. According to the Marketing Business Weekly (2009), "Pace University is nationally recognized for its business programs, outstanding faculty and applied research. The Lubin School of Business is professionally accredited for business and accounting by AACSB International, an elite distinction shared by less than 3% of business schools worldwide." (Marketing Business Weekly, 2009)
III. Website & Business Model
The Pace University website can be reached by visiting the university's URL, which is https://www.pace.edu. As the university is a non-profit, the funding when compared to private universities including land grant institutions such as Cornell University and state research universities such as the University of California or the research centers within the State University of New York system of higher education is not as prolific. Pace must rely on donations from its university graduates and on the tuition fees inclusive of university lodging fees.
The business model is centric to the university's motto of "Opportunitas"
, which signifies the universities commitment to providing a substantive education to immigrants and first generation Americans. The motto is a function of the school's founding in 1906, a time greatly impacted by the mass immigration movement into New York City from Eastern, Western, and Southern Europe. The centennial marked a period in the university's existence where the online experience can now enable populations throughout the world to obtain a Pace education.
According to Garvey (2002), "Pace's heavy reliance on the Web means forging ahead with backup plans. When a university teaches students remotely over the Web, campus IT becomes a lot more like business IT. Data flows constantly, and there's no room for downtime." (Garvey, 2002) Clearly, the business model incorporates a targeted online presence to include the remotely located student as well as the busy professional that wishes to advance their education without the hassle of attending classes at a physical location.
The purpose of the university website is to expose the student to the vast array of service and opportunities inherent with enrolling and attending classes. The website is also designed to enable students to complete registration online and to enrol in coursework via online enrolment as well. The content is typical of most universities such that Academics, Admissions, Student Life, Library, Alumni Relations, and a few other tabs comprise the primary areas of website activity for the university.
The business model is a function of the university's strategic plan, which provides the mission and vision statements and outlines the university's plan to grow its base and become more competitive and respected in the market place. The model is centric to the student as the professional in the market place. The importance of the model is on placement of the student either as an intern or on admissions.
At the undergraduate level, the business model is different than from the graduate and professional schools within the university. The online marketing plan is also different, as the website is multi-functional such that the professional graduate student and the undergraduate university student will interact with the same Graphic User Interface (GUI). The lack of complexity to the navigation of the university's website is indicative of the level of funding the university has relative to its operating budget and expenses related to web presence.
Ostensibly, the university business model is best described by this following statement that is contained within the university strategic plan. According to Pace University (2010), "There are, of course, a number of positive countervailing forces and trends, including the tendency of the university enrollments, particularly among part-time students and at the graduate level, to increase during times of recession; the greater importance of undergraduate and graduate degrees in times of layoffs, unemployment, and restricted hiring; Pace is well positioned to capitalize upon these positive trends and to deal with these challenges. We believe that our basic financial strategy of modest enrolment growth, cost control, and rationalization of the University's real estate holdings continues to be appropriate and realistic." (Pace University, 2010)
The tenuous global economic climate facilitates the business model by enabling a global student population to obtain an education by remotely accessing and enrolling at Pace University. The e-commerce model supports the university's student centric approach by encouraging students to obtain an education during declining economic conditions and via remote access.
IV. Target Market and Consumer Behavior
The target market is contingent with the competition in obtaining the outstanding high school graduate, transfer student, and working professional graduate student population. Ideally, the target market is stratified and therefore is subject to the university's ability to attract students that are looking to gain a competitive advantage in a down market place or to advance their current skill set and knowledge base in a particular area.
The undergraduate student target market is quite diverse and is shown via the breadth of student within the most recent incoming class as more than 100 countries are represented at the university
. Although international students are not the primary target in so much as a function of direct marketing efforts, the international student body is interested in obtaining a U.S. based education and Pace is appealing to these populations given the university's history and motto of "Opportunitas."
Consumer behaviour regarding the purchase of higher education is market specific and usually is a function of one's academic ability relative to the university's admissions standards. The behaviour of the consumer when considering a model student with excellent grades, is to obtain the type of education that will enable one to reach their goal(s). While the market is highly saturated, the consumer behaviour model is switching more toward accepting and even preferring the online e-based website education over the classroom-based educational format.
Consumer behaviour in the education e-commerce market is subject to rules (Comegys, Hannula, and Nen, 2006). According to Comegys, Hannula, and Nen (2006), "Consumers tend to set rules, or attribute cut-offs for the products in their choice set. These are the minimum acceptable levels that an alternative must possess in order to be considered as the final purchase. The first one states that when the reliability of the attribute the customer is considering is high, the cut-offs on that attribute are more severe than when reliability is low. The second characteristic is that when there is a positive correlation between two attributes, the cut-offs on those attributes are more severe than they would be if the correlation was negative or of equal magnitude." (Comegys, Hannula, Nen, 2006)
Consumers have a perception of educational quality as well as a need for convenience subject to…