With the globalization of the Education Industry there is also a growing need for a well informed decision making on behalf of the International students. The Education Institutions also need to decide of how to reach this vast and global market of prospective students. In this paper an attempt has been made to profile the education industry scenario in five major countries viz. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and France. Each of these countries were dealt with individually and the sources of students and the strategies adopted for attracting and retaining these students were studied. The steps involved in choosing and targeting the correct student profile were also enlisted. The need for Managers to think and act strategically to ensure they retain their competitive advantage in this highly cut throat competitive education industry was also reinforced.
Keywords: higher education, internationalization, overseas students, strategies
To attract overseas students, schools need credibility that is built over a long period of time, and this requires a consistent, cohesive marketing strategy. Research shows that an international student will consult at least 10 different sources of information before deciding which country, region and school they will attend. Students base their decision on the 4 Rs: Reputation, Responsiveness, Research and Recommendations. Choosing the right school is a highly involved decision-making process and for international students this process may take years, therefore, schools need wide ranging communication strategies that are consistent and well planned. Effective ways to reach overseas students are through school placement agents and English language schools. Personal visits to overseas target markets are usually effective if well planned. Advertising in publications intended for the overseas communities can be effective. School publications need to be written in the language of the target audience and schools should feed their alumni network as word-of-mouth promotion ranks highly as a source of referral. Research tells us that overseas students visit school websites on average 12 times before enrolling. Prospective students listen to the recommendations of influencers - agents, parents and ex-students and then they confirm their decision by regularly visiting the school's website. Schools need to ensure that their website is up-to-date and has real-time information - eg video camera, students work, timetables etc.
National policy initiatives aiming to attract foreign students are driven by a variety of factors. The most important factor is the competition over the best brains, and the need to build an international quality profile. In most of the countries, non-governmental organization is in charge of marketing activities. Some of them are closely collaborate with and are supported by their government. Whereas in some countries, the government directly implements marketing activities or runs a network of educational advisers.
International education is a key priority for Australian government, both in terms of national interest and global influence. Australia is the third largest service export in international education sector, generating export earnings of about $ 3.7 billion each year. This sector not only results in economic returns but also internationalization of the Australian education system, cross cultural skilling of young Australians and the development of goodwill and mutual understanding.
While Australia attracts international students from a diverse range of countries, the majority of students come from Asian region.
Australian institutions use a wide range of strategies to attract international students, including trade fairs, alumni initiatives, education agents and conferences/seminars.
Australian Education International (AEI) which is a part of Ministry of Education announced a budget of around AUS$ 113 million (ca. 70.5 million Euro) to cover international education initiatives for 2003 to 2007. And the Australian government issued a statement on the internationalization of Australian education and training, "Engaging the World through Education".
In July 2004, AEI and Austrade signed an agreement whose aim is to promote export of educational institutions.
IDP is another nonprofit organization which helps in promoting Australian education by counseling and recruiting international students.
AEI, Austrade and IDP all run web portals which promote Australian education opportunities
(http://www.studyinaustralia.gov.au, http://www.austrade.gov.au/overseas/ and www.idp.com/students).
The New Zealand government aims to spend more to attract international students. In 1999, The New Zealand International Marketing Network (NZIEMN) was established to promote New Zealand as an education destination. In 2004, education New Zealand, a nonprofit organization took over the brand so as to improve the image as a high quality study destination.
The Canadian Education Centre (CEC) Network, a nonprofit organization has been engaged in promoting education destination since 1995. There are about 17 centres across the world which helps students in providing information about studying in Canada and they also indulge in hosting education fairs, market research and maintaining contacts with other agents. The CEC network also runs www.studyCanada.ca where students can find any kind of information regarding education in Canada.
Top 10 sending places of origin and percentage of total international student enrollment (in 2008):
- China 41,082 (33.2%)
- South Korea 30,075 (24.3%)
- United States 11,853 (9.6%)
- France 8,353 (6.7%)
- Japan 7,793 (6.3%)
- India 6,937 (5.6%)
- Taiwan 4,747 (3.8%)
- Hong Kong 4,484 (3.6%)
- Mexico 3,830 (3.1%)
- Germany 2,941 (2.4%)
In 1999, Prime Minister Tony Blair had announced the start of a world-wide campaign to promote British universities and colleges overseas, and to attract more international students to the UK which was funded by the British Government. Designing and establishing an Education UK Brand, developing a global marketing campaign to deliver the brand, making immigration procedures more user-friendly, establishing the right of international students to work whilst studying in the UK, setting targets for international student recruitment and prioritizing country markets, developing high level cooperative arrangements between UK Government, its agencies and UK Education institutions, developing greater outreach and impact in each country, including to work in a constructive way with local education agents and developing an Education UK Website (www.educationuk.org) to provide comprehensive access and information relating to all quality assured programmes were some of the activities and decisions taken in the process.
The British Council is the key actor in a five-year global marketing campaign of UK higher education. Within the British Council, the Educational Counseling Service (ESC) is in charge of the campaign. ECS is a membership Organization with over 300 member institutions from UK higher and further education, private schools and colleges, professional and examination bodies, and associate organizations.
Central to the marketing campaign was the development of the Education UK Brand, created after extensive market research and consultation. The Brand was developed with a private sector marketing and communications company. It is available for use by all quality assured UK education and training institutions and is repeated in all government and official bodies' promotion and related materials employed internationally.
In UK HE in 2006/07 international students made up:
12% of full-time first degree students and 11% of all first degree students
66% of full-time taught postgraduates and 42% of all taught postgraduates
50% of full-time research degree students and 43% of all research postgraduates
EduFrance is an agency formed by the French Ministries of National Education, Research and Technology and of Freign affairs. Its main aim is to promote higher education among international students.
EduFrance has created a catalogue and web portal containing more than 450 French study programmes with a special international orientation grouped by discipline, duration, target group and objective (see www.edufrance.fr). Marketing actions for the new online portals include for example conducting programs by visiting universities in different countries and providing information regarding international education.
Recommendations and conclusion
Steps that universities can take to ensure that they target the right market:
- Identify key phrases specific to the target market.
- Localised research will give an insight into what students are looking for.
- Marketing the subjects that are more likely to be popular within a nationality is more likely to bring ROI.
- Social network sites are an effective way to market to potential international students.
Education has become a global industry and education institutions of all kinds have become involved in international education for financial and non-financial reasons. As with any industry there is a need for education managers to think and act strategically in order to secure a competitive advantage (Mazzarol and Soutar, 2007). International marketing require a significant commitment by senior management and a willingness to allocate substantial resources to achieve and sustain a competitive position. As markets become more saturated, opportunities will emerge for segmentation strategies that offer differentiated services. Even large institutions with the aspiration to be global players are likely to need to differentiate. However, smaller institutions will need to adopt a niche or differentiated strategy, which is a pattern in many industries throughout the world