Why run an expensive ad for one PhD place?

Why would a business school buy expensive media space to promote its PhD scholarships? The advertisement below appears on page 3 of today’s Weekend Australian, offering a $50,000 PhD scholarship at the UQ Business School. The ad on its own would be worth a good percentage of the scholarship’s value. There are surely much cheaper ways of communicating with the smallish pool of potential business research students.

Is it some kind of branding exercise for the UQ Business School (‘Australia’s most recognised’, ‘international reputation for research’, ‘close links to industry’ according to the ad)? But if so I would have thought that there were better ways of doing it, and good outcomes for graduates would be more important. Keeping up the flow of fee-paying coursework students is the key to a successful business school (some of which have a history of losing money, which isn’t exactly a great endorsement of the business acumen contained within their walls).

I’d welcome any theories explaining this ad.

  1. Marketing is presumably the intention, and maybe they just produced a lousy ad? Without a consistent pattern any one strange action could just be a random mistake.

  2. To demonstrate that it isn’t necessary to be related to a senior official at UQ in order to win a contested position with prerequisites attached?

    I’d suggest that it’s a profile raising exercise as well, UQ Business School mightn’t have the profile that other organisations have – in Brisbane, Griffith and QUT have high-profile business programs which this offer clearly seeks to trump.

  3. I would hazard a guess that its an agency problem. Its easy to place an ad using the schools money, if someone questions the efficiency you can fall back on it increasing the schools profile.

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