Building Competitive Advantage in Academic Programmes in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) Institutions: Case of The Open University of Tanzania
The determinants that affect competitiveness of ODL Higher Learning Institutions (ODL-HLI) can loosely be lumped up as being either from within the organization itself, or from the market. These include: student enrollment trends, staff development, academic trends, technology trends and economic trends among others. These challenges can be viewed and used as a way of planning ahead; and as important pointers in assessing the institution‟s performance. The determinants should highlight where the institution is doing well and needs to guard its market competitive advantage as well as indicate where there are weaknesses that need to be addressed in order to gain a competitive advantage of the higher education market. In order to maintain its market position, the paper presses greater importance on investments in ICT enhanced education delivery and sharing systems, improved customer service and greater publicity on all media and in particular through improved visibility and quality of the institution‟s website. The paper however, suggests that greatest competitive advantage for ODL-HLIs such as OUT‟s is hidden in its postgraduate programmes. The paper stresses that improved quality and completion rates of research and postgraduate students in business, law, economics, and education and applied natural sciences should become new market niche for ODL-HLIs.
Key words: competitive advantage, academic programmes, ODL institutions