International Education Strategy and Marketing

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Posted on 25 Jan 2022 at 08:13 by Vicky Lewis

Thoughts from our January 2022 webinar

LatAm-SEA-SSA Jan 2022 webinarBack in November of last year, I was approached by fellow consultants, Cecilia Pereira-Yates, Jamie Ash, Simon Terrington and Stuart Rennie to see if I’d be interested in facilitating a webinar they were planning. This took place on 20 January.

I was delighted to join them, not just because they’re lovely people and great to work with, but because their philosophy (and that of their respective companies) chimes very much with my own. The approach they take in the regions where they are specialists is firmly based on building mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders.

And their regions are ones which hold the key to that holy grail among UK universities: diversification. Simon and Jamie, from EdCoLatAm, are based in Colombia and specialise in Latin America. Cecilia’s company, GB8, focuses on Southeast Asia. And Stuart’s consultancy, SJRennie Consulting, is a market entry specialist for Africa.

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Changing context, timeless focus on relationships

The international education context is changing radically and rapidly, with the rise of agent aggregators, ed tech companies and artificial intelligence. The sector’s improving capabilities of capturing and analysing data to match prospective students to suitable institutions generate some great opportunities. However, this doesn’t alter the fact that long-term, sustainable relationships sit at the heart of any regional engagement strategy.

The independent companies run by the panellists have a long track record of building trust and reputation in their respective regions and offer a range of bespoke services to their relatively small and select group of institutional partners. Their regional expertise and networks are hugely valuable.

As Margaux Jacquemin argues in this article, ‘networks beat systems in a changing world’. Of course, you need both, but systems are largely ineffective without a network of relationships. For that reason, the golden thread running through our webinar was relationship-building.

Relationships with prospective students

We discussed – with particular reference to Latin America – the importance of building relationships with prospective students and enhancing these at the conversion stage. This involves using the communication channels that prospects prefer (which will vary not just from region to region, but from country to country and even city to city). Simon and Jamie also made the point that it needs to involve communication from and with academic staff, alumni and current students, all of whom can make a huge difference in helping prospective students to visualise themselves at a given institution.

Relationships with parents

From a Southeast Asia perspective, we focused on relationships with parents, noting how these have changed in recent years. Cecilia observed that parents are now doing much more of their own research into their offspring’s university choices. The pandemic has heightened parental concerns about safety, security, health and wellbeing. The spotlight is more firmly than ever on ‘return on investment’ in the shape of enhancing career prospects. However, the helicopter parent can be a blessing as their greater involvement means that current or ‘past’ parents (with a child at – or having graduated from – a particular institution) may be willing to speak to prospective parents, building peer-to-peer relationships which offer enormous reassurance.

Multi-channel approaches

In the context of Sub Saharan Africa, we discussed the need for multi-channel strategies and the relationships that underpin these. Key to this was making efforts to understand the national priorities (economic, educational, business etc.) of the countries with which you engage and tailoring your engagement accordingly. Having a presence on the ground was seen as hugely important and Stuart argued that representation should be at a senior level: someone who is comfortable negotiating with ministries, scholarship bodies and university leaders. Relationships with a multitude of stakeholders need to be in place to support both partnerships and student recruitment.

Future developments

When asked a final question about the next big development or opportunity in each of the regions in 2022 and beyond, our panellists highlighted some key areas.

In all the regions, the enormous opportunities presented by in-country provision via TNE were emphasised – from pathway routes, paving the way for undergraduate studies, to joint Master’s programmes. Simon noted the sheer pace of the evolution of technology as a development to take advantage of in Latin America. Cecilia flagged up Indonesia as a Southeast Asian ‘country to watch’, predicting additional emphasis on the education agenda when the capital moves from Jakarta to Nusantara (on the island of Borneo). Finally, Stuart flagged the implications of the UK graduate route, including the need for universities to integrate internships and work placements into their programmes and to gather and use insights and data on international graduate outcomes.

Webinar recording and follow-up

If you missed the webinar and would like to listen to the recording, click the button below and use the passcode provided.  

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If there are other topics you’d like us to cover in a future webinar, please let us know what these are.

Beyond that, we’re happy to support you from a global or regional angle: whether you're interested in a full-scale review of your international strategy, development and delivery of regional strategies and approaches in Latin America, Southeast Asia or Sub Saharan Africa, practical on-the-ground support in those regions, or any combination of the above.

Any one of us would be delighted to hear from you.

Vicky Lewis, Vicky Lewis Consulting (International Strategy Development for HEIs)

Email: vickylewisconsulting[at]gmail.com  Web: www.vickylewisconsulting.co.uk

Simon Terrington & Jamie Ash, EdCo LATAM Consulting (Regional representation – Latin America) 
Email: simon[at]edoclatam.com Web: www.edcolatam.com

Cecilia Pereira-Yates, GB8 Ltd. (International Education and Partnerships Specialist - South East Asia)

Email:c.pereira-yates[at]gb8.co.uk  Web:www.gb8.co.uk

Stuart Rennie, SJRennie Consulting (Market entry specialist – Sub Saharan Africa)

Email: stuartrennie[at]sjrconsulting.co.uk  Web: www.sjrconsulting.co.uk

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