What is a University Business Plan?     

Let’s get this straight. Universities need enrollees to get their funding. Universities, especially public universities, get most of their funds, or the biggest percentage of it comes from the government, such as federal and state funding. The other percentage of their budget comes from private grants, sponsorships, alumni donations, and straight-up tuition fees payments from parents. Hence, universities thrive on enrollment figures. So long as the university keeps on maintaining a good reputation, then government funding and support, grants and such, will keep on coming in as well.

Now, if a university develops a bad reputation, what do you think will happen? Enrollment figures drop, potential enrollees become uninterested in enrolling, and sooner or later, fundings or requests for the budget will be disapproved, and so on. Who would want to support a school that has a bad reputation, right? So, it is an utmost important matter that universities take their enrollment figures seriously. Aside from having and maintaining a good reputation, they need to ensure that they get the word out there that their university is the best university to enroll in. That’s the purpose of having a university business plan. A university business plan is created similar to any type of business planning, except that its strategies are school-specific. It serves as a roadmap for universities on how to achieve their goals and objectives when it comes to getting a high enrollment figure. It lays out the strategies that deal with the marketing, sales, and financial aspects when it comes to targeting their market, which is potential student enrollees.

Common Marketing Strategies Used by Universities   

Marketing strategies are used when you want to send out to your target market the message that says “this is what we want you to think of when you think about us”. Universities, aside from working on a good reputation, need to send that message out to their prospective students. They want them to know that this is the university that can meet your needs when it comes to academic and professional development and that this is the university that can provide all the support and resources that you will be needing in your academic life. That is what a marketing strategy is all about. An effective marketing strategy should at least adhere to a SMART goal method. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

A strategy should be at least specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Specific, meaning that the strategy should be defined clearly and that it doesn’t have any room for confusion. A strategy should also be measurable, or something that can be quantified, tracked or monitored. An achievable strategy is something that is realistic. A relevant strategy is something that is appropriate to the current situation, time, period, trend, or circumstances, while time-bound means that the strategy should be contained within a specific time or has a deadline to it. Universities use a lot of different strategies, depending on what is best that fits their profile. Here are some of the most common marketing strategies used by universities.

It’s All About Branding: Ever wonder why businesses invest so much when it comes to coming up with their brand strategic concept? First of all, a brand is a business’s identity. It connects people, or the target market, to what the business has to offer, or in this case, what a university is about and what it has to offer. It also helps set businesses apart from each other and is often used as a tool to get ahead of the competition. Brands come in the form of uniquely created names incorporated with design logos, symbols, or even slogans. So, what does coming up with a brand concept have to do with universities? Universities are operated the same way any business is being run. Just as businesses strive to get ahead of the competition, so do universities need to get ahead of other universities, especially when it comes to enrollment figures. A unique, innovative brand concept will help do the trick. Most universities invest time and effort in creating that brand concept that appeals to prospective students, and at the same time reflects the culture and values of what the university is all about. Aside from attracting students, a good university brand has the potential to also attract the right academic and administrative staff. When it comes to advertising, a brand is the first thing that people notice. Hence, it is important that universities should spend time ensuring that they have the right branding that best represents them, at the same, a brand that’s appealing to their target audience.Social Media Marketing: Social media marketing is one of the latest trends when it comes to marketing strategies. Social media marketing is using the latest social media or social networking platforms to market a business’s products or services, or in this case, a university’s course or academic offerings. Considered as one of the best marketing strategies as of today, the social media world has probably the largest reach, the largest audience everywhere or anywhere in the world, so long as there’s a device and internet connectivity. Universities leverage the marketing offered by these platforms since their built-in marketing data analytics tools have the capability of filtering out and targeting the student demographics that schools are aiming for. These built-in tools also have the capacity of producing reports on customer engagement, such as how many people have visited the schools’ website through the links posted on social media, how many likes a school’s post has garnered, and so on. Universities, in turn, use these reports to further develop and improve their marketing strategies as necessary.Enrollment Promotions: Another good marketing strategy is coming up with attractive enrollment promotions. These promotions usually come in the form of scholarships offered for outstanding student graduates from other schools, or they could also come in the form of student discounts or privileges. Or, it could also be in the form of coming up with a contest, and the winner of the contest gets some sort of discount, sponsorship, or private grants.Tours and Sit-ins: Another effective university marketing strategy is offering campus tours and classroom sit-ins. This would allow prospective students to get the feel of what is life in the university before applying or enrolling. They would even get the experience of what it is like being lectured by one of the professors of that university. Some universities offer virtual tours on their campus website. This will allow people to tour the campus at their own time and convenience, or without leaving the comforts of their own homes. Not to mention it saves money and gas, too. They could have a 3D or a 4D tour of the campus without having to drive all the way down to where the campus is located.

Creating a University Business Plan

Having a business plan for a university is very helpful since there is a document that guides the school on the dos and don’ts in achieving its goals and objectives when it comes to enrollment. If a university’s business plan is effectively made, not only does it increase enrollment, it also helps get support or funding approval and secure the right talent that the university needs. A business plan should be geared towards making the university look appealing and attractive to its target prospective students, and even academic and administrative staff. There is no strict format when it comes to making a university business plan. A business plan has to be flexible enough to be able to meet the needs or demands of a university. To make the planning successful, the following elements should be included in a university business plan.

  • 1. Executive Summary

    The executive summary provides an overview of what the whole university business plan looks like. It gives a brief introduction and background of the university, an outline of academic offerings, extra-curricular activities, resources, and infrastructure. It could also highlight what were the university’s achievements, whether in academics or in extracurricular activities, or any outstanding details that the school is known for. The executive summary also provides the university’s organizational chart. Aside from that, it also states what are the school’s goals and objectives. Executive summaries oftentimes include a mission and vision statement. A mission statement states the purpose of coming up with a university business plan, which is different from the university’s actual mission statement. The mission statement can also incorporate in it the school’s culture and values. A vision statement gives a depiction of what the university hopes to achieve through its business planning within a given timeframe. The vision statement sets the tone of urgency to its planning, making sure that everyone is on the same page during the planning process and implementation.

  • 2. Market Analysis

    The market analysis provides a look at what the market currently looks like for educational institutions, especially for universities. It provides the demographics needed for the marketing strategies, gives the latest trend and figures, the opportunities and challenges when it comes to enrollment, as well as touches on a bit on other competing universities’ profiles and strategies. Doing a SWOT analysis is an effective way of doing a market analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths are those features of the university that make it unique or stand out from other universities, such as complete infrastructure and resources, having the latest software and hardware technologies, or even having a good and solid reputable teaching staff. Weaknesses are those factors that hinder the university from achieving its goals, such as lack of technical training, lack of resources, and so on. Opportunities are those aspects that the university can use to achieve its goals. This is where the marketing strategies come in. And threats are those factors that can potentially harm or put at risk the business planning of a university, such as lack of funding, loyalty to other competing universities, et cetera.

  • 3. University Offerings

    The executive summary touches on this part a bit, but here in this section is where you provide more details on what the university offers. Here is where you list down the academic programs and courses offered; curriculums; extracurricular activities; scholarships or grants offered; names of teaching staff; names of administrative staff; infrastructures and facilities available, and so on.

  • 4. Marketing Strategy

    A marketing strategy is all about how you position the university in the current market condition for educational institutions. It is about turning prospective students into actual enrollees. This is the part where you list down the proposed marketing strategies that you have come up with for the university. Aside from the abovementioned strategies, other strategies that have been around for a while and are still effective are sending out college prospectus to prospective students, doing video commercials, hiring celebrities or influencers to promote the school, flyering, and so on.

  • 5. Financial Planning

    Planning and strategies need a budget to get them implemented, and the budget needs to be approved by the university’s funders, which is often the local government. Just like with any other business, a business plan is often used as a primary document to secure funding or capital from potential investors or financial lending institutions. No different at all from a university business plan. This section of the business plan should itemize each strategy, what are the costs and expenses related to the implementation of each strategy, and what other resources or materials are needed. Financial planning, for it to be approved, sometimes would require a timeline and a target. In the case of a university business plan, the timeline for the strategies will be before the enrollment schedule, and the target set is the number of student enrollees.


What are some of the benefits of a business plan?

One of the benefits of having a business plan is that it brings clarity and purpose to the decision-making and planning process. The presentation of the challenges and opportunities during the planning process solidifies the reason why the business is needed. Another benefit of a well-prepared business plan is that it gets the approval or secures the funding needed to run the business. Last but not least, the business plan serves as a guide and a structure on how a business should run or operate.

What are some of the different types of planning?

There are other types of planning that cover specific aspects of the business. These are operational planning, financial planning, marketing planning, sales planning, strategic planning, contingency planning, and so on.

What are college grants?

College grants usually came from the federal or state government. They are granted to students with financial needs, especially in areas of disability, low or no family income status, or else covers the expenses of the school. Grants are given without any payments to be made. Usual requirements for students to maintain being funded by grants are to maintain a certain GPA score, finish or complete a program, and so on. Compared to scholarships, grants are more straightforward when it comes to their application.

Miami University, aside from having a good reputation, banks on good planning to get good enrollment numbers year in and year out. Universities’ ultimate goal, aside from producing successful graduates, is to keep the school running and operating. To do that, they need all the support and funding they could get to stay in operation, and having a high enrollment figure is one way of staying open. That’s why they need a good planning system to pull it off, and that system is laid out in a University Business Plan. 

We have several business plans templates ready for use and for download, and we especially have one for a university business plan. Check them out and download one now!