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December 2013 Update: Marketing, Finance & Accounting and Public Relations

Please note that the links for this post are no longer current


Welcome to the December blog post,

In the next few months, I would like to focus on curriculum matters in Marketing, Finance & Accounting and Public Relations. This month, the spotlight is on the Marketing curriculum and what might need to be added or changed as more and more marketing positions require digital knowledge and skills.

I then preview some of the curriculum issues that I will be discussing in the next few blogs for Finance & Accounting and Public Relations.

Spotlight on the Marketing Curriculum

Is the current Marketing curriculum fit for purpose? I bring this up for a couple of reasons. Recently, colleagues across the UK have been contacting me to discuss changes to their curriculum and the potential for new programmes in digital marketing. Why? The marketing profession has undergone a sea change in the past decade. Last year, for example, UK companies spent over half of their marketing budget on digital channels, platforms and activities as well as other online activities. This represented £16 billion of the approximate £30 billion spent overall in marketing.

Academic colleagues are asking – are our current marketing graduates fit for the new realities of the profession?

Secondly, I heard a provocative speech earlier this year from Janet Hull, Head of Marketing at the London-based Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), at one of our events on innovations in the marketing curriculum. Although the IPA represents just 10% of direct marketing jobs in the UK, those jobs are at 291 advertising agencies, including the largest and most influential who work with all the top advertisers from the commercial, charitable and government sectors. She noted that companies are looking for a whole host of people to fill job roles which we would never have dreamed of 20 years ago including: disruption directors, innovation directors, social media analyst/executives, creative technicians, analytics consultants, user experience directors and search engine optimisers. Could our graduates progress into these kinds of positions?

Among the many things that Janet said about current marketing graduates is that they tend to be playing catch up with new trends in business and are not on the button or taking the lead. Also, that while they often know the language of marketing, they are perceived as not having credible frameworks or an evidence base to back up their ideas and don’t have the same rigour in their thinking. Whether or not this is the case, it is clear that IPA agencies hire graduates who have digital as standard and, for many positions, quite specific skills in areas such as statistics, behavioural economics, coding and software development.

Janet considers marketing roles today to fall into three categories – thinking, doing and creating. Each of these categories requires different knowledge and skills – many of which come from disciplines other than marketing.

Her breakdown is as follows:

  • Thinking: The Science of Marketing (Social Sciences/Psychology)

  • Doing: The Practice of Marketing (Management Sciences)

  • Creating: The Art of Marketing (Computer Sciences/ The Humanities/The Arts)

  • Insight: Distillation and the creative leap. (Behavioural economics and activities involved with attitudes/behavioural targeting; Economics and Statistics).

  • Analytics: Predictive modelling/econometrics/ algorithms/ budgeting and ROMI. (Computer sciences and econometrics)

  • Business management/ leadership.

  • People management.

  • Relationship management.

  • Project management.

  • Negotiation skills

  • Software engineering.

  • Creative technology.

  • Art and design.

  • Creative ideas.

-Janet Hull, IPA, 2013.

Which of these roles are we preparing our students for?

While Janet represents a particular segment of the marketing profession, her speech and the discussion going on amongst colleagues in UK marketing departments today show that changes in at least some elements of the marketing curriculum are needed and are being recognised.

I would appreciate your views on where the marketing curriculum is going and how your department and team have been responding. Also, June Dennis at the University of Wolverhampton has created a community of practice for those who wish to discuss marketing curriculum issues and innovations. Please feel free to join. You can contact June on this link.

Finance and Accounting

Professor Trevor Hassall and John Joyce from Sheffield Hallam University recently completed a piece of work for the HEA in which they argue for changes in the F&A curriculum:

“Accounting education must change in order to meet the emerging needs [of the knowledge economy]. The direction of change is towards is towards a broad and overt acquisition of diverse knowledge. Accountants must acquire, maintain, and continuously promote higher levels of competence to meet expanding and increasingly diverse demands.”

In particular, they argue, F&A students need a curriculum that promotes the development of communication skills. They report on studies involving both employers and professional bodies that have called for priority to be given to developing students' oral and written communication skills. And yet, as Hassall and Joyce note, F&A students often suffer from communication anxiety or apprehension and this starts well before they join their University programmes. Furthermore, the F&A curriculum is already so crowded! So how can this be done?

In the next blog post, I will share more information on their study and its recommendations for developing F&A students' communication skills. The full study will be available in the new year.

Public Relations

In September we supported an event on Public Relations curriculum at Leeds Metropolitan. This event heralded the start of a community of practice for those who are interested in not only the PR curriculum but also ways to embed social media knowledge and skills. In the next few months, I will report back on the outputs and discussions from this community ofpPractice and also highlight other issues in the PR curriculum that are being discussed and considered. If you would like to join the discussion, please contact Liz Yeomans on this link.

HEA calls for funding and upcoming events.

A number of funding calls are still open: National Teaching Fellowship Award, Collaborative teaching development grant scheme and the International Scholarship Programme. Please click on the links for more information. All close in January 2014.

We also have a call open to fund five projects related to understanding, discussing and debating the impact on learning and teaching and the student experience of the recent significant changes in UK higher education policy. For more information and to apply, please follow this link.

The next few months offer some very exciting workshops that are free to attend. Do visit the Events page of the HEA website for events that may be of interest or see Richard Atfield's December blog for a summary of events related to Business education. Other information about Social Sciences projects and HEA opportunities and projects can be found in our December Social Sciences newsletter. If you do not currently receive the newsletter, please sign up for this and other bulletins at My Academy.

Blog work area:

Social Sciences

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