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Running head: A study of post university

A Study of Post University

Amanda Sherman
Post University

A study of post university


The following will be an examination into the for-profit collegiate institution Post
University. A brief synopsis of its history and changes overtime, the community it serves, and
the technology utilized. Trends currently affecting the university will then be analyzed to draw
conclusions on the future of the institution.

A Study of Post University

Overview of Post University
Post University is a for-profit institution located in Waterbury, Connecticut, providing
online, campus, and hybrid learning formats. The most available data of student demographics
comes from a Noel Levitz survey dated 2012. The student population consists of 62.26% female
37.74% male, the three largest ethnicity classes identify as 62.07% White/Caucasian, 17.55%
African American and 10.03% Hispanic. The full time and part time students are in almost equal
ratio at 53.21% full-time 46.79% part-time. The ages as well are evenly divided: [25 and under:
6.27%] [25-34: 32.93%] [35-44: 30.09%] [45 and over: 30.72%] (Noel Levitz, 2012 p 1-2).
Post has a small campus population, but the vast majority of students are online learners.
The History and Current State of Post University
Post University was founded in 1890 as Matoon Shorthand School offering a variety of
bookkeeping courses. It was obtained by Harry C. Post in 1897 and renamed Post College. In
1965 Post moved to its current location in Waterbury, CT, and its first off-campus site was

A study of post university

opened five years later in Meriden, CT. In 1976, Post Junior College was accredited by the New
England Association of Schools and Colleges, and became a four-year institution. With the
advancement of technology and accessibility of the internet, in 1996 Post University developed
online programs. Post University attained national accreditation through the Accreditation
Council of Business Schools and Programs in 2013(Post University, 2015). The most significant
change in Post University's history is clearly the development and advancement of its online
program. The ability to see an opportunity and adapt to the changing atmosphere are what has
made Post University stand through the changing tides of technology in education.
Currently Post University offers 1) traditional campus education 2) complete online
degrees 3) site offerings, a combination of online and campus and 4) evening and weekend
programs. Methods of instruction range widely through the program types, from traditional
classroom, to completely virtual. There are four main schools of study Malcom Baldridge
School of Business, John P Burke School of Public Service, the School of Education, and the
School of Arts and Science. For its on campus students, Post University offers a wide range of
student services including student governments, Division 3 sports, 21 different clubs and
organizations, student center, campus store and gourmet cafeteria. For the online community of
learners, resources available are: academic advising, career services, the elibrary and learning
center (Post University, 2015).
The mission of Post University "is to provide students with the knowledge, personal
skills and experiences required to become leaders in their chosen careers. We prepare students to
become confident, competent, and competitive participants in the global marketplace"(Post
University, 2015). It is worth noting that Post University began its career as a vocational

A study of post university

institution, and through all of the changes in technology and curriculum, Post continues to keep
focus on training and the value of education in the work force.
Technology Currently Utilized at Post University
One technology currently in use at Post University is Bring Your Own Device. Online
students, for example, are accessing their coursework from home through a system called
blackboard. The blackboard system is an online format allowing students to interact with their
instructors and other students. They are able to access valuable resources, obtain assignments
and submit their work for review. The blackboard system is also equipped with a mobile app so
students have the option of accessing their coursework through their mobile devices and tablets.
A study from Davison and Lazaros (2015) presented that "Hardware and software are advancing
rapidly enough that accessing learning content on a mobile device has no downside when
comparing it to accessing the content on a computer" (p. 1-2). The Horizon Report also supports
that "the BYOD movement is enabling students to learn using the technology with which they
are already familiar and comfortable"(Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada, Freeman, 2015 p36).
Currently the use of BYOD at Post University is compatible with the online format as well as the
rest of the campus and hybrid offerings.
A second technology in current use at Post University is the flipped classroom. The
horizon report suggests that shifting the coursework out of class time allows for more "cognitive,
more active, project-based learning" in classrooms (Johnson, ET. Al. 2015 p36). There are few
studies on the flipped classroom, however one completed at Saint Bonaventure University was
able to exact that GPA performance of students in flipped classrooms had no significant increase
over a traditional classroom, but the satisfaction level was slightly higher (Gross, Marinari,
Hoffman, DiSimone, Burke, 2015. p47-48). Increasing the satisfaction of the student body is

A study of post university

important because a better learning experience may increase retention rates and promote referrals
for enrollment.
Trends Currently Affecting Post University
While examining the current status and future of a collegiate institution it is imperative to
develop a full understanding of the influences which affect its condition. Post Universitys
success is dependent on a multitude of ever changing variables. The following will examine the
economic, technology, demographic and historical trends that impact the university.
Economic Trends
The rising cost of higher education is a serious concern for most American households.
Tuition has increased at a rate five times greater than inflation since 1983 (Asino, 2015, p27).
Student loan debt is now reshaping the culture of young adults. Many graduates are forced to
move back in with their parents due to staggering student loan payments, creating a late onset of
adult life. The pool of graduates with a bachelors degree is ever growing as a greater percentage
of the population is completing a four year degree. And, since the job market has been slow to
recover since the Great Recession, many students are unemployed or find themselves
underemployed, at low-paying jobs that do not require a bachelors. All of these variables
compound leaving students questioning, is it worth it for me to get my college degree? The
driving force for many of these potential college students to continue enrolling, is that the wage
gap continues to widen between college and high school graduates. Mostly due to the fall in
wages for individuals who obtain only a high school education (Abel, J. R., & Deitz, R., 2014,
p1). Some students find themselves attending college not expecting a lucrative career
afterwards, but simply because they are trying to avoid poverty.

A study of post university

As the dissatisfaction grows within students regarding their return on investment, the
future of higher education is uncertain. A backlash may begin to spread, leaving more students
searching for an alternative route to gainful employment. Internships, trade schools and
certificate programs may grow in popularity, while the expensive and time consuming four year
degree may seem less necessary. If this does happen, Post University must be prepared to
change their marketing strategy and possibly curriculum. Widening the certificate offerings and
targeting certain high paying job categories could increase student satisfaction. However, there
is an alternative future. The student population may find that to stay competitive in the job
market, an advanced degree is necessary. In which case expanding the graduate programs and
shifting marketing to focus on masters programs and the expansion of a doctoral program would
be effective. Much of the future of education relies on the demand from students. Investing in
research as well as marketing, and paying close attention to enrollment trends is crucial to the
survival of any higher education institution for the future.
Technology Trends
Currently, Post University is very effectively utilizing distance learning through their
successful online program. The eLibrary is filled with electronic course materials, and the use of
Blackboards software program is user-friendly for the online population. That is where
technology has led the institution thus far, however with the ever evolving technology trends
Post must adapt to changes in elearning to remain relevant.
The advancements within virtual reality will be an opportunity for online colleges over
the next five years. There is a higher level of interaction and engagement provided through a
virtual experience, which would greatly appeal to potential students. It may also allow for
expansion into fields which online classrooms were previously limited such as healthcare,

A study of post university

engineering or architecture. There are many advantages to embracing virtual reality, it allows the
development of an individualized, student-centered environment, provides first-person
experience, and has the ability to create settings that would otherwise be too costly or impossible
to replicate in real life to name a few. There are also challenges with introducing virtual reality
into classrooms; ensuring that the focus for students remained on education and not
entertainment is important and also models for instructional design are still uncertain (Ludlow,
2015, p7). For Post University, the addition of virtual reality would be a logical next step within
the online format. The student population would undoubtedly respond positively to the new
advancement and it would demonstrate that Post is on the cutting edge of new technology.
A second technology trend that could have a positive impact on Post University is
Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs. These are typically characterized by open enrollment
to non-matriculated students, no cost and no credit earned for participation. The general purpose
for Post University providing MOOCs is to provide exposure for the university and possibly
convert these potential students into matriculated enrollments. There have been mixed reviews
about the effectiveness of MOOCs, and there are few empirical studies on the matter. But for
Post to enact a MOOC program, four factors to consider would be: course design or navigation
and accessibility, participants learning goals, opportunities for interactivity, and methods of
assessment and feedback (Morris, 2014, p403). Although a MOOC would most valuably be used
as a marketing tool, it must also offer a benefit to the student and give a positive impression of
the university. This addition could offer great opportunity for the university domestically as well
as internationally.
Demographic Trends

A study of post university

One demographic trend having a large impact upon Post University is the projected
decline of high school graduates in the New England area. The physical campus has been in
place for over 125 years, and gives Post University great distinction among other online based
institutions. However, the number of graduates in New England is projected to fall from 140,558
in 2009, to 123,895 in 2022 (New England Journal of Higher Education, 2009, p37). This
smaller pool of potential students for the on campus program will make recruitment even more
strained. Maintaining the campus is costly, and expansion of the Connecticut commuter students
would be ideal. Expanding the sports programs as Post has done is one technique to draw more
community involvement and attract attention to campus. Although the fiscal success of Post
University could be secure through expansion of its online program only; the already small
campus population needs to be at least preserved if not growing, as to not become a financial
The unemployment rate also plays a role in the enrollment success of higher education.
During times of recession when there are lay-offs and people are out of work, it is actually a
more successful time to enroll students. Professionals in the work force that were let go, realize
that the market is more difficult and most jobs require a bachelors degree. Young people just
starting out are meeting that same tough job market and looking for a solution. Higher education
is the answer for both of these issues, and many people choose to work on their degrees while
they find themselves out of work or between jobs. The recession beginning in 2008 aided in a
great increase of enrollments, but now that trend is beginning to level off, and the unemployment
rate has a large part to do with it. The unemployment rate fell to 5.3% in June of 2015, with a
projected continued 1.83% increase in employment rates for the future (Perryman Long Term
Economic Forecast, 2015, p1). If the employment rate continues to rise as projected, and

A study of post university

population of unemployed workers decreases, there will be fewer people needing education as a
bridge to employment.
Historical Trends
Post University has a long standing history of on campus education, spanning more than
125 years, but it was not until recently in 1996 with the development of the online program that
Post truly began transformation into the university it is today. Over the last ten years under the
supervision of CEO Thomas Samph the university has had a 40% compounded annual growth
rate, increasing the size of the organization from 6 million to over 81 million dollars ending 2015
(Samph, 2016). This dramatic growth is in large part accredited to the leadership, but also to the
boom in online education. From 2002 to 2010 the online student body nationally increased from
1,602,970 to 6,142,280, with a compounding growth rate of 18.3% (Allen, Seaman, & Sloan,
2011, p11). This era in time has seen a dramatic increase of online learners in all capacities,
graduate, undergraduate, working professionals and professional students. The historical
significance years from now will undoubtedly be remarkable. The innovation of bringing higher
education to the living rooms of students across the nation and globe, has forever changed the
lives and opportunities for millions of Americans who would have in other circumstances never
been able to complete a degree program.
Futuring Techniques and Post University
The future of education is uncertain; however the following will examine one version of
what the future may hold for Post University. Many factors may contribute to the changes that
evolve in higher education including the economy, advances in technology and adjustments to
curriculum. Post University is currently taking steps to address its areas of economic
improvement, such as its student retention and student debt. Strategies in lowering the drop-out

A study of post university


rate and decreasing the amount of bad student debt would have a significant impact on the
economic situation. Over the next five years there will undoubtedly be great advances in
technology, and Post University will most certainly be affected. One advancement on the
horizon is live chatting with students and professors, and students with other students. Finally, as
the job market increasingly changes, the choice of majors must meet the demands of students
looking to stay competitive. Areas of opportunity for Post University in this regard would
include expanding their technology department, possibly offering majors or certificates in
programs such as web design. Futuring takes this picture of what one predicts for the future and
analyzes it further through the use of scanning and scenarios. The product of such futuring can
lead to higher quality decision making, shifting from reactive to proactive modes to anticipate
change, more effective and timely framing, valuing and ranking of program priorities, (and)
positioning current and future assets to address emerging issues (Sobrero, 2004, p 3-4).
Examining such possible outcomes and brainstorming strategies to improve the educational
platform are essential to providing quality education, and keeping an institution such as Post
University competitive.
Scenarios are internally coherent pictures of possible futures (Mietzner, Reger 2005, p.
223). They paint pictures of what may be to come and the paths an organization may take to get
there. There are many strengths to scenarios, they allow for comparison and preparation for
multiples futures, open minds to possible outcomes, and allow for recognition of weak signals
to incorporate in long term planning. They create a cross-company conversation on the future,
lead to changes in decision making and are very flexible to fit differing institutions. There are
also many drawbacks to scenario use, they can be very time consuming, it can be daunting to

A study of post university


select participants and experts, there must be a large amount of research done to have a full
understanding of the institution and finally it can be difficult not to get caught up in imagining a
perfect scenario or a most likely scenario (Mietzner, Reger, 2005, p 235 236).
Typically multiple scenarios are drawn to differing conclusions; this practice is useful
within most companies, allowing them to prepare for multiple outcomes. Within this case study
only one scenario will be presented, limiting the ability to compare possibilities, however it will
also eliminate many of the time consuming aspects of scenario building.
Scanning is based on a systematic survey of current newspapers, magazines, Web sites,
and other media for indications of changes likely to have future importance (World Future
Society). Once a thorough collection of data has been established it is then statistically analyzed
for trends to forecast possible futures. When scanning, it is important to present the information
in easy to understand forms, that present future projections including what is likely to happen if
future changes occur at the same rate as in the past (Sobrero, 2004, p 2). There are many
strengths to scanning, it is the statistical backbone that adds legitimacy to futuring scenarios. It
also allows for strategic planning to be easily incorporated. Once a trend is identified, with its
possible future outcome, if an organization is interested in changing the trend they can
manipulate the data to show alternative scenarios if changes are introduced. There are also
drawbacks to scanning, it is incredibly time consuming to gather and assess all of the data
needed for accurate scanning to take place. The process also must be completed in a timely
manner in order for the data to be meaningful. The combination of those two factors can make
scanning a daunting task.
Drawing Conclusions on Futuring

A study of post university


Futuring is essential to many organizations, having a dramatic effect on the strategic

planning of institutions and Post University is no exception.

The future of technology,

academics and budgetary concerns can all be mapped out and analyzed through the use of
scanning and scenario techniques. Preparing these reports is not a solution to the issues currently
facing Post University, or any other institution, but they can be the catalyst for change.
Beginning conversations of how to be more innovative or address current negative trends. Then
strategies can be presented and their effects mapped out. These actions are absolutely necessary
for any organization looking to be relevant in the future not just the present and the past.

A study of post university

Scenario of Post University

The future of Post University five years from now is very different than the current state
at the university. Like many other organizations Post operates almost like a living organism,
ever changing due to internal policy decisions based on outside trends. There are currently
strategic plans being implemented to address the unearned Fs and retention issues, which will
have a major impact on the economic condition of the university. There must also be planning in
place to address the future of technology at the university as well as developments in curriculum.
As previously noted there has been a large expansion over the previous ten years at the
university, however that trend is decreasing. The growth of the university is slowing down. This
is in part due to the previously noted economic trends as well as issues with unearned Fs,
retention and bad debt. Studies have shown that schools with effective exit counseling and job
placement in an appropriate field had lower default rates (Frishberg, Lee, Fletcher, Webster, &
Texas Guaranteed Student Loan, 2012, p8). This is one example of a strategy which Post could
begin to utilize. Within five years, the internal issues causing this negative trend should be
addressed, and the trend of expansion will continue. As unearned Fs and retention issues are
addressed the economic state of the university will improve and funds may be allocated to
marketing, technology and development of curriculum. These advancements will make the
university more attractive, drawing students to enroll.
Technology at Post University in the future will also have a very different appearance. In
order to stay competitive in the landscape of online universities, Post will have to invest in the
latest technology. This may include a more interactive experience for online students. Post will
very likely continue to utilize the Blackboard interface for its online classroom setting, but the
incorporation of outside technology may also play a large role. PowerPoint presentations will

A study of post university


look more like an interactive video, with creators who are able to draw on the presentation and
make notes. Audio and video may also play a larger role in presentations as well. Nursing,
traditionally thought of as too hands on for online instruction, has been piloted with interactive
classrooms showing positive feedback from students (Andrew, Maslin-Prothero & Ewens, 2015,
p29). Virtual reality may then be incorporated to expand into other areas of curriculum that were
previously thought impossible for the online format.
The course offerings at Post University will be expanded, and also shaped by the
demands of the fluctuating job market. For example, at the height of the recession, the health
care industry reported an expansion in jobs, when almost all other job categories reported losses
(Fogg, Harrington, 2009, p15). This led to a boom in healthcare, specifically nursing, programs.
If a university could have some insight as to what industry will be in demand next, they would
have an advantage over other universities. In preparation the technology department must grow
and become more specialized to embrace the growing tech industry. These offerings may
include majors such as web design and digital security. Further changes will be made based on
research into the job market trends. The certificate and masters programs will be further
developed to cater to students seeking specialized careers. A doctoral program will also be added
to appeal to the potential student population seeking a higher level of education.
Challenges Post University will face within the coming 5 years.
1.) Continued decrease in unemployment nationwide and graduation rates in New

England, lessening the pool of potential students

Unearned Fs, retention rates and bad debt
Finding funds to invest in future technologies, implementation of new technologies
Organization of a more research based IT department
Preparedness for changes in curriculum based on future job market demands

Opportunities for Post University within the coming 5 years.

A study of post university



Develop strategies to combat unearned Fs, retention and bad debt

More research within the IT department
Re-evaluate marketing strategies
Research job market trends
Further develop curriculum, concentrate on certificate and graduate programs

The course for Post University, should these challenges not be preemptively addressed, is
clear. The university will be less competitive with other institutions putting further strain on
enrollment. The economic growth will continue to slow until eventually it begins a negative
Plan for Change
To properly prepare for this future scenario, Post University must enact a high level of
strategic planning with detailed follow up. The unemployment rate and high school graduation
appear to be ineffaceable variables, however strategic marketing may be one resolution to the
issue. An in depth look at the effective strategies and the best practices of the admissions
department will yield greater results. The hiring of a marketing consultant on a temporary basis
to work with the existing marketing department on specific targeting will enable Post to remain
competitive even in the toughest of markets. The looming issue of unearned Fs and low student
retention must be addressed to improve the economic stability of the university as well. If proper
steps are taken to decrease the number of students negatively impacting these trends, the
university should be able to rebound financially. As the economic situation improves at Post, the
excess funds should be earmarked for the development of technology at the university. One
higher paid individual specifically should be hired within the IT department to be monitoring
new trends within the elearning community, and preparing detailed cost analysis and timetables
for implementation. Finally, to remain competitive within the online education field Post
University will have to remain up to date on the job market trends and their effect on curriculum

A study of post university


demands. Without knowing what job field will be most in demand years from now, leaves the
university unprepared for curriculum development. While others schools are taking advantage of
hot programs, Post University could be left behind in the development stages.
Call to Action
Within the next few months Post University needs to continue to address the unearned F
and retention issues. Recommendations for this process include: making an essay mandatory for
acceptance, more staffing in the Academic Success Counseling unit and accountability for
retention with every staff member that owns each student. Graduation rates are correlated to the
standards of admission at an institution (Frishberg, Lee, Fletcher, Webster, & Texas Guaranteed
Student Loan, 2012, p7). The inclusion of an essay as part of the admissions process will assist
in identifying students who may struggle within the program, as to provide more attention from
the academic success counselors. This would require only the addition of a few staff members
within the writing center to grade essay submissions, and would be a wise investment for the
university. The expansion of the Academic Success Counseling unit would greatly increase
retention. They are currently understaffed and have caseloads that are too high to manage. This
would also require the addition of staff members. Providing accountability for every member of
a students team from the admissions counselors to the tuition planner and the enrollment
coordinators would have a large impact on the retention rate. Admissions counselors may be less
inclined to accept students that may be underqualified if their success was dependent on the
completion of each students degree plan. This change would take little more than managing and
coaching changes.
A second step to be taken immediately by Post University is a study on the future of job
market trends and their effects on curriculum. The university should at minimum every two

A study of post university


years hire an outside research firm to conduct a study of what job fields will be in demand at 2, 5
and 10 year increments. This allows the university ample time to prepare curriculum and adopt
pilot programs. The research would undoubtedly be a large investment, but having programs
that are in high demand is what keeps a university in business.
An examination of an institution such as Post University must be holistic, taking into
account the many ever changing variables that affect its status. When strategically planning for
the future there must first be a solid foundation from which to draw conclusions. The economic,
technology, demographic and historical trends impacting the university must be continually
assessed to provide the most accurate evaluation of the needs and direction of the university.
Although Post has demonstrated great success, it is the continued evaluation of such trends in
relation to the course of the university that will continue its growth and expansion.
The aforementioned scenario is one vision of Post University. To secure a stable future
the university must address its economic issues, research must be conducted to prepare for
technological advancements and there must be preparation for future curriculum changes.

Abel, J. R., & Deitz, R. (2014). Do the Benefits of College Still Outweigh the Costs?. Current Issues In Economics
& Finance, 20(3), 1-12.
Allen, I. E., Seaman, J., & Sloan, C. (2011). Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States,
2011. Sloan Consortium,

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Andrew, L., Maslin-Prothero, S., & Ewens, B. (2015). Enhancing the online learning experience using
virtual interactive classrooms. Australian Journal Of Advanced Nursing, 32(4), 22-31 10p.
Asino, T. t. (2015). The future of our field. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning,
59(1), 20-30. doi:10.1007/s11528-014-0816-8
Of Business, Economics & Finance, 3(4), 471-489.
Davison, C. B., & Lazaros, E. J. (2015). Adopting Mobile Technology in the Higher Education Classroom.
Journal Of Technology Studies, 41(1), 30-39.
Fogg, N. P., & Harrington, P. E. (2009). From Labor Shortage to Labor Surplus: The Changing Labor
Market Context and Its Meaning for Higher Education. Continuing Higher Education Review, 7311-31.
Frishberg, E., Lee, J. B., Fletcher, C., Webster, J., & Texas Guaranteed Student Loan, C. (2010). How to
Graduate High-Risk Students: Lessons from Successful For-Profit Colleges and Schools in Texas. TG (Texas
Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation),
Gross, B., Marinari, M., Hoffman, M., DeSimone, K., & Burke, P. (2015). Flipped @ SBU: Student
Satisfaction and the College Classroom. Educational Research Quarterly, 39(2), 36-52.
Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., New Media, C., & EDUCAUSE. (2015). The
NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education Edition. New Media Consortium,
Ludlow, B. L. (2015). Virtual Reality: Emerging Applications and Future Directions. Rural Special
Education Quarterly, 34(3), 3-10.
Mietzner, D., Guido, R, (2005). Advantages and Disadvantages of Scenario Approaches for Strategic
Foresight. Int. J. Technology Intelligence and Planning, Vol. 1 No.2 2005. P. 220-229.
Morris, N. P. (2014). How Digital Technologies, Blended Learning and MOOCs Will Impact the Future of
Higher Education. International Association for Development Of The Information Society,
NEJHE's Trends & Indicators in Higher Education, 2009. (2009). New England Journal of Higher
Education, 23(5), 33.
Noel Levitz Inc. (2012). Adult Student Priorities Survey, P. 1-2
Post University. (2015). Retrieved on January 22, 2016 from
Samph, T. (2016). Town Hall Meeting. Attended at Post University, Waterbury, Ct.

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Sobrero, P., (2004). The Steps for Futuring. Journal of Extension June 2004, Vol. 34, Num. 3. Retrieved
United States Outlook. (2015). Perryman Long-Term Economic Forecast, 9.
World Future Society. (n.d.) Methods. Retrieved January 30, 2016 from

A study of post university

Scanning Tool

Data Collection


Findings & Notes

Frame of
1 - 2 years
5 + years


List the journal article, US

census data, industry report,
newspaper article, etc.

What does your research indicate? How

does it apply to your organization?

H - High
M - Medium
L - Low

Higher Cost of Tuition


Devaluing higher education in relation

to return



Curriculum Follows
Job Market Trends

Fogg, Harrington

Expansion in programs follow job



Lessens Supply of Potential Students



Lessens Supply of Potential Students



Ludlow; Andrew, MaslinProthero & Ewens

Can be useful in expansion of programs

3-5, 5+

Frishberg, Lee, Fletcher,

Webster, & Texas
Guaranteed Student Loan

Graduation Rate is directly linked to

acceptance standards



Social &
Lower high school
Unemployment Rate

New England Journal of

Higher Education
Perryman Long Term
Economic Forecast

Virtual Reality


A study of post university