International Education Strategy and Marketing

Specialist Expertise

Setting new initiatives up for success

One of my particular strengths is helping higher education providers to get new international marketing and student recruitment initiatives or projects off the ground and setting them up to succeed.

  • You might be an institution wanting to progress a new initiative or approach and needing some independent research to spell out options and stimulate decision-making (see 1. Progressing international initiatives).
  • You might be a small-ish or new-ish HE provider who wants to boost international student recruitment and feel you've arrived at the party a bit late (see 2. Internationalisation essentials).
  • You might be an established university developing a new international campus who knows that having an effective marketing operation is crucial to success (see 3. International campus marketing).

Whichever description fits, Vicky Lewis Consulting will work with you to develop specific, tailored plans with tangible action points to set you up for success in your chosen international endeavour.

The sections below outline our solution to your particular challenge.

1. Progressing international initiatives: research and analysis to get things moving

Your profile

Your institution may be at any stage of internationalisation: an old hand or a relative newbie. You’ve identified a potential new project or approach which you believe will make a positive contribution to achieving your international aims. And you need to get evidence-informed discussions underway within the institution so that clear decisions can be made on whether to proceed and, if so, how.

The challenge

You need to know whether to invest institutional energy in this new international initiative. But you don’t personally have time to undertake the necessary research and analysis. And there’s nobody else with capacity to take this on. If you don’t come up with an evidence-informed proposal, discussions will keep going round in circles and decisions on whether to proceed will be postponed until you’ve missed the boat. This would be incredibly frustrating as your gut feeling is that this is worth exploring.

Our solution

Bringing in a neutral third party to undertake initial research and analysis can really help to get things moving. This research may involve gathering input from internal stakeholders, collating external market intelligence, or a combination of these. The recommended approach will depend on the nature of the project. I may need to spend time at your institution. Or it may be possible to do all the research remotely.

We will agree at the outset the main purpose of the report. To stimulate internal discussion? To present a range of options? Or to make firm recommendations on next steps? Whichever it is, I can draw on years of senior management team experience to pitch it so that key stakeholders have the information they need. And, because the report is based on genuinely independent and objective third-party research, claims of ‘vested interests’ are minimised.

Vicky Lewis Consulting has a particular focus on getting new initiatives off the ground – and the first step is usually building the evidence base to facilitate informed debate and decision-making. A typical client reaction is: ‘I just wish I’d asked you to tackle this sooner’.

2. Internationalisation essentials: what to tackle first for maximum impact

Your profile

You are a small-ish, new-ish HE provider with modest numbers of international students. You’ve tried a few forays into international student recruitment but progress is patchy. Competitor institutions seem to have invested more in this and succeeded in growing their student numbers. It feels as if you’ve arrived at the party a bit late. You don’t have much of a budget but you’d really like to do some focused activity to boost your international student recruitment.

The challenge

Your competitors seem to have massive travel budgets and are constantly flying round the world recruiting students. How can you hope to make inroads? And where do you start? You’re willing to invest some money but not on a huge scale. What you need is a clear – and cost-effective – plan for increasing international student enrolments in a sustainable way over the coming years. And you know it’s important to ensure your institution is set up to offer them the best possible experience so that they become your strongest international ambassadors.

Our solution

As a first step, here's a PDF information sheet which provides a step-by-step process to follow when developing an international marketing and student recruitment plan. If you'd like some help making it happen, Vicky Lewis Consulting will draw on 20 years of experience to produce a tailored action plan detailing what you need to tackle first (and how) for maximum impact. I will consult with key stakeholders and work with your in-house team (however small) to come up with practical, realistic and highly targeted proposals for achieving growth in international student numbers.

I will:

  • visit your institution and meet with key stakeholders to understand your ethos, priorities, strengths and international experience to date
  • identify key international target markets appropriate for your portfolio
  • devise a practical action plan to boost international student recruitment – both from target countries and more generally
  • advise on any changes or enhancements needed to ensure an excellent international student experience
  • outline low, medium and high investment options for consideration, indicating the relative predicted impact of each.

My recommendations will reflect your institution’s particular ambitions and context. They will be informed by personal experience of setting up a successful International Office from scratch and by academic research into UK HEIs’ varying approaches to internationalisation.

3. International campus marketing: getting it right first time

Your profile

You are a well-established university with strong international student numbers and impressive international links. You want to extend your global profile by establishing a significant presence overseas. You are actively exploring opportunities to develop an international campus. You may already have selected the location and set the project in motion.

The challenge

Some international campuses have failed because they didn’t get the marketing right. Maybe they pitched their offer wrong or they underestimated the resources needed to launch a new venture in a new market. As a result they missed their target student enrolment numbers. You don’t want to follow in their footsteps. You need to get your marketing right first time. But there is not a lot of guidance out there on the essential ingredients for effective marketing of international campuses. And it’s difficult to know which elements of marketing should be steered from the home campus and which ones led by the in-country team.

Our solution

As a first step, here's a PDF Information Sheet that highlights the key marketing questions you should be asking throughout the project. If you'd like some more tailored guidance, Vicky Lewis Consulting can work with key stakeholders in home and host countries to ensure that relevant marketing expertise is injected at key stages of the campus development process.

I can do some or all of the following:

  • identify your market intelligence needs and help you obtain the information you need for a robust, market-informed business plan
  • translate your business plan into a medium- to long-term marketing and profile-raising strategy
  • develop a marketing resourcing plan to cover those first few crucial years
  • prepare an operational action plan to optimise student recruitment to your first intake and establish a sustainable platform for future growth.

Recommendations will reflect your university’s particular ambitions and context – and the desired relationship between home and international campus. They will be informed by personal experience of designing an international campus marketing and student recruitment operation (with roles and responsibilities split across continents) and by academic research into the marketing lessons learned by UK HEIs with recently developed international campuses.


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