The Student Life as an Uninformed Business – a bad metaphor

No feedback, no luck

Maddie and her fellow Marketing Department students have just finished their second university year. How did it go? Well…we don’t know yet, and we won’t know until all the formalities of making our grades official are completed. It surely seems odd to us that following a year of studying we have nothing to show if we have done well or not. To be completely honest, we do have grades for one unit which finished in March, but how about the other units that started in the beginning of the year and for which we have submitted many assignments before the final exams?

While walking terrified towards my final exam for the Marketing Management unit I was trying to remember what I’ve studied during my second year. One of the topics of discussion was Marketing Research and the importance this has in businesses making informed decisions. As it happens in the case of most students when trying to revise, my mind suddenly started wondering off the Marketing Management, and I’ve had and “epiphany”. I realised that towards the end of our second year we are as uninformed as a business manager who decided against marketing research and went with all the ideas the company has for new products. Let me go back and try to explain what I mean.

When deciding on what new products a company should pursue, a company conducts marketing research to find which products are more commercially viable and try to ensure the company’s success by choosing the product/s which is/are conferred to have this characteristic. In the case of Marketing (Advertising and Marketing Communications, PR and Marketing) students, at the beginning of the year we were informed we would have 4 units during the course of the year, each accounting for 30 credits. Making a simple calculation, at the end of the year we would have 120 credits, out of which only 90 will count for the degree calculation. To put it in business terms, we have 4 new products, out of which we must ensure that 3 are of very high standards and that they are profitable (we get our proposed degree qualification at the end of the third year). Throughout the year, we are meant to research and come to a conclusion as to which products will have the most “commercial viability”, based on the data collected (grades and feedback) from our marketing research company (tutors and lecturers). Before the final exams come into the picture, students should have enough data available to be able to decide which of the “products” is not feasible (which unit has no chance to improve the final grade), so that more effort can be put into the other 3 products. Unfortunately, despite paying the marketing research company, the data required (feedback or grades for the submitted assignments) for the student to make the informed decision has not been presented with sufficient time to allow us to make the informed decision, except for one of the “products” which has already had the final results presented.

We therefore have two options, each of them with risks associated due to the lack of information available:

  1. We don’t make a choice and try to concentrate as best as possible for all “products”, all the while hoping the results will not be mediocre for all of them;
  2. We chose two “products” to focus on, and hope that we made the right choice.

When the “End of Year accounts” are submitted (i.e. the final grades are posted), we might find out that we have either been successful or failed, but you must agree that no business should run in “blind”, and that most businesses who do so fail, sooner or later. So why risk students’ future by not providing them with the required information to make informed decisions? I understand that each tutor might have a “quota” of grades to achieve, and perhaps a reputation to maintain, but I feel like misinforming students should not be the way to do it.

The Advertising and Marketing Communications course at University of Bedfordshire has been the best decision I’ve made, but I can’t help imagining how much better it would be should students receive their feedback and grades according to the university guidelines.

What’s your opinion?




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