Ad rant

Written By: - Date published: 11:28 am, December 4th, 2008 - 24 comments
Categories: education - Tags:

I despair at the mentality behind this ad.

Why should universities, which are all publically-owned, be advertising to try and take students off each other? I mean, it’s one thing to compete on quality but this kind of vacuous ‘marketing’ nonsense just shows we’re losing our universities.

Universities were once places to learn how to think, to discover; they were places where you went to gain a broad range and real depth of knowledge. This ad and the emphasis on rubbish like MBAs shows they’re becoming places for preeners to network and get pieces of paper to show what great businessmen they are.

24 comments on “Ad rant”

  1. rave 1

    Its called a market Steve.
    Needs a strong dose of Italian medicine against the Gelmini ‘reforms’ in the universities. A million on the streets is not bad.

  2. I guess they are trying to appeal to the people that go to University these days.

    I mean you have idiots who decide to do their thesis on “Why people love rugby so much”

    This is why most young people I know want to have their college experience overseas.

  3. T-rex 3

    Fucking A.

    They all pretend to be “centres of excellence”, but really they’re becoming anything but through a race to the bottom to provide degrees for anyone and to try and attract EVERYONE. I think half of the problem is the perception that you’ll “never amount to anything” these days unless you’ve got a uni degree (creating a glut of bullsh*t degrees), but in addition to this the funding model is intended to deliver graduates, not progress. I have a number of friends who’ve done PhD’s in science and engineering at Canterbury Uni over the last few years, and they’ve all been forced to sign guarantees when they begin that they’ll finish within 4 years. Three years into your research and you find some amazing new area of research that’ll take two years to properly develop? Sorry – not on THIS campus buddy. We’re about graduates, not knowledge, and you’re taking up valuable desk space that could be occupied by someone eligible for government funding.

    As for the perception that you have to do a degree to be worthy of recognition – I know plenty of people who’ve graduated and are still f*cking idiots.

    Universities, you are creating a brain drain from within. Sort it out!

    Some journalist who actually deserves their qualification – you should totally write a think piece called “The brain drain from within – How universitys are sucking the creativity and drive out of students”. To be fair though, uni drinking culture probably should carry a lot of the blame too. Did anyone see that research the other day on the number of students who routinely passed out, and the number who had significant periods of memory loss? What role model reversal occurred where people would rather be pissheads than legends? Maybe it’s just that it’s easy to be a pisshead…

  4. Daveski 4

    Having worked in a marketing-related role in a university, I can tell you that every academic who had tenure and full courses was opposed to any advertising but as soon as the number of bums on seats dropped the marketing budget couldn’t be big enough and we weren’t doing enough!

    I have absolutely no problem in arguing against market solutions in selected areas where there is public benefit. Universities is one that stands out.

    The competitive model leads to a customer/service approach rather than a more rigorous learning model. There is massive duplication of resources and staffing compared to the old model where universities had well developed specialties.

  5. vto 5

    I’ve thought for years there needs to be some sort of division created within universities, for the betterment of each division, among other things. Namely between the ‘professional’ degree such as law, dentistry, medicine, foresty, accounting etc and the more ‘academic’ degree which includes arts, history, mathematics, etc.

    Of course there is some overlap in different places but I think some sort of differentiation would assist both camps because at the moment the mixing of the two kind of detracts from each – the academic is not rated as highly as it should be and the professional similarly.

    The academic would be rated more highly. And the professional could distinguish itself for its purpose (which is where this type of ad could fit without detracting from the academic). 2 x 2c.

  6. Alas — it sure looks like a product of the school(mindset) which produced the Great American Revulsion.. just going (I hope)…

  7. Vanilla Eis 7

    Rex: for many students being a pisshead = being a legend. Half wasted and still going to class? What a hard man. Went drinking three nights a week and still passed that first year paper with a C+? God amongst mere mortals.

    Or something like that. Universities have to shoulder some of the blame – during my time at Vic I felt like nothing but a cash cow. You can literally feel the dollar sign that they attach to your student ID. Do they really give a damn if a student spends the semester getting wasted and fails a paper? Hell no, that just means they have to re-sit if they want to graduate = more fees.

    But students and their families are also to blame. I avoided the hostel experience (I was too old anyway – god knows I didn’t want to spend my spare time hanging out with retarded 18 year olds) but many parents pack their kids off to uni knowing *exactly* what they’ll get up to, and are happy to provide spending money. Then there are the employers that look at whether or not you stayed in Weir House and simply graduated, rather than the quality of your degree – belonging to someones Alma Mater shouldn’t matter a damn, but it happens and it cheapens the efforts of those who avoid such places. Simon Power visited one of my lectures and was introduced as a Weir House old-boy, and a huge cheer went up around the hall. Who gives a shit where you live while studying, seriously?

    So I more or less agree – we live in a society where you’re a failure and/or unemployable if you don’t have a degree (I’ve got half of one – whoop?) but once you get one almost no one gives a damn anymore how well you actually did at it. The Universities themselves are more interested in their bottom line than the quality and welfare of their students, and that debases the entire concept of higher learning.

    edit: Steve, don’t you have an MBA? 😛

  8. Tane 8

    Moving commerce degrees to polytechnics would solve most of these problems.

  9. gingercrush 9

    Tane that is an ignorant statement.

    [Tane: Taking the piss, clearly.]

  10. My first experience with tertiary education was from a private provider (who wont be named) and it was shocking. The tutors were industry rejects, the facilities substandard (128k internet servicing at least 100 computers) and to top it all off it cost $2000 more than a years equivalent at a Uni.

    The result of turning education into a market has allowed these private providers to crop up and start competing for funding with the likes of the Universities and Polytechnics (who are now competing against each other as well), and as Steve said its ultimately the quality of the education thats suffering.

    Its no surprise then that people feel like these institutes want to get you in the door, take your money, then get you out again. Why do we get institutes offering hip-hop tours or twilight golf? Its so they can get bums on seats so they can get funding.

  11. Joseph 11


  12. Joseph, this is why some public services should be off limit to business and profit.

  13. Andy 13

    Yay, finally, something about Victoria’s recent and TERRIBLE marketing campaign. It has absolutely nothing to do with education or quality – it’s about money.

    From my experiences (as a former Vic student) some of the smallest and therefore, I guess, least profitable course are the best quality. In those courses, your essays and exams are marked by the lecturer not some wannabe with a partially completed honours degree in marketing.

    Why is commerce often targeted for diminishing standards? I am sure it can’t be that bad. Does Economics and Accounting still have standards? I think part of the problem is no one is really too sure what people actually do in Management, Marketing, Commercial Law and Human Resources. They’re all subjects – all subjects offered by Vic. Or have standards fallen in other subjects as well? I do hear, at Vic, in one first year commerce paper 15 percent of your grade is holding a 5 minute conversation in English with a friend. And apparently the Law School is just not interested at looking at papers from Commerce’s Commercial Law subject – not even a masters.

    It’s hard to know what is actually happening.

  14. gingercrush 14

    You gotta love Victoria University’s courses in Political Science, Public Policy and Social Policy as well as some of their other art subjects. Canterbury University in such regards pale in comparison.

  15. QoT 15

    And why are all their ad campaigns SO PAINFUL? Yes, UofA, very clever, global map, big flag which could be pointing to any of the screeds of tertiary institutions in Auckland/the Waikato. Yes, Otago, you’re so FUCKING edgy, “get over it”, hahaha appeal to the youth (though their latest TV ads, “Take your place in the world, come to Otago as an interesting goth chick leave looking like another clone” are just bizarre).

    And then, of course, Victoria. “It makes you think”. Except it DOESN’T because all the questions posed in the ads have all the depth of a Lindsay Boniface “editorial”.

  16. Ag 16

    “Why is commerce often targeted for diminishing standards?”

    Because in my 15 years experience in tertiary education, commerce students tend to be dumb and venal. Even Bob Jones, who is hardly a lefty, described them as the business equivalent of “cannon fodder”.

    The problems with our universities are many. Fees were stupid as they make students feel like customers, when they are supposed to be working. Most of their education is on the public ticket, yet the amount of work demanded in some courses and the standard required to pass is pitiful. Moreover, and this is something that has become worse over time, many students are having to take a 20 hour a week job which interferes with their studies.

    We’d be a lot better off if tertiary fees were offset by performance scholarships on a sliding scale such that students would have an incentive to study as hard as possible.

  17. T-rex 17

    I actually quite liked the “It makes you think” ads. At least the message was on target.

    Awesome zinger though 🙂

    The Otago ads were an great foil to that “all publicity is good publicity” mantra. I can just imagine the conversations:

    “So… what do you think is a good university to go to?”
    “Man… I don’t really know any universities… what’s that one that has those get-over-it ads?”
    “shudder… That’s Otago”.
    “Right. F*ck those ads man, if those people went there that place must be god awful. Let’s go anywhere that’s not there”.

  18. QoT 18

    Well, it’s my own uni, T-Rex, I have to hate it most. Though let’s not get me started on the past year’s bullshit “reviews” of my favourite departments.

  19. Canterbury’s ads are even worse. They come on screen with a thumping D&B track accompanied with the slogan “get on with life”. I’m sorry but a university isn’t a place to “get on” with anything. It’s a heavy three-four year committment. Unless of course you do a commerce degree where it’s all multichoice.

  20. T-Rex 20

    I reckon Canterbury should run the following campaign:

    “If you want a true university education, expect to be challenged, and aspire to greatness – come to Canterbury. We’ll do our best to provide it for you. If, however, you just want to turn up, arse about, and drink a lot, then do us all a favour and f*ck off down to Dunedin where you can burn couches to your hearts content… because if you come here we’ll take great joy in failing you. If you don’t want to be a dumbass failure, but don’t think that academic excellence is really your thing and want to do something practical – do ALL OF NZ a favour and go do something worthwhile at a polytechnic institute! They’re actually really good, and NZ desperately needs skilled tradespeople! This doesn’t mean you should go there and do some bullsh*t bums-on-seats course.”

  21. Chris G 21

    Thats a terrible ad.

    So is the Otago: Goth gets homogenised ad, Rugby jock turns in to popular lad ad.

    What the hell are they thinking?

    Universities are cash cows. We students are walking dollar signs, we know it, they know it. What a shit system.

    But then again, the market decided that this crap should be happening, so maybe its not crap.. Perhaps we should embrace it as market success?
    Perhaps I should ring Rodney and Johnny and say I’m a convert. Cos this is great.

  22. Draco T Bastard 22

    Moving commerce degrees to polytechnics would solve most of these problems.

    Do we have any polytechnics left? I thought they had all become universities.

    Yes, Otago, you’re so FUCKING edgy, “get over it’, hahaha appeal to the youth (though their latest TV ads, “Take your place in the world, come to Otago as an interesting goth chick leave looking like another clone’ are just bizarre).

    Yeah, that got to me as well especially considering how much the tutors push the idea that you’re just there to get an education to get a job.

  23. Phil 23


    I’m Lovin it

  24. Lampie 24

    I’m a student of marketing and have no problem with that ad. It is a matter of personal taste and seems everyone knows the Otago one so really it has worked in its objective. Prosepective students here and overseas are the target audience to encourage them to undertake further education not necessary at the advertising institute.

    I agree that other areas of study should be promoted rather than the old MBA and commerce is not multi-choice since in business 1+1 does not equal 2!!! Try science!

    Mind you, yeap, you got to wonder if these institutions actually practice what they preach

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