Marketing in Education – Why do Universities need In-Country Representation?

Universities are well aware of the value of attracting overseas students, and in recent times have created a myriad of short, medium and long-term course options to meet their requirements.

However, HE institutions can’t afford to overlook the steps needed to draw attention to those options and secure buoyant levels of international enrolments. In particular, in-country representation in prime locations to reach their potential students.

This article explores the pressing need for university ICR, and ways to achieve that with a tangible return on investment.

Globalisation of post-18 learning

The personal and professional benefits of studying abroad have been widely appreciated and warmly embraced over many years. Even on the tail end of a global pandemic, millions of students worldwide are choosing higher education placements outside their home country.

There is a good chance as world travel becomes even more ‘normal’ and more restrictions are lifted, there will be a substantial surge in HE applications from international students. Potentially even exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

One of the driving factors in overseas student enrolment has been the growing number of Asian young people studying abroad. For example, in 2019/20 of the 538,615 international students in the UK, 139,130 were from China and 52,545 were from India. The third-largest cohort was students from the USA (19,940).

Data for postgraduate taught (PGT) and postgraduate research (PGR) enrolments show a similar picture, with growth firmly influenced by enrolments from non-EU applicants.

Technology and traveling to learn

Has technology replaced the need to study abroad? Evidence to date suggests this is not the case!

Technology has responded quickly to the challenges of COVID-19, and hybrid online and in-person education has accelerated massively. This supports the continued desire of international students to study in countries known for their stellar HE provision.

Also, studying abroad is about soaking up the lifestyle and culture of your host nation, and exploring work experience or even job vacancies in a new international destination too.

So, how are these ambitious, mobile applicants choosing the universities they apply to?

Marketing in Higher Education and how In-Country Representation can help

Current and future international learners have a wealth of ways to research the countries and institutions that offer the best paths to qualifications. Not just via websites, but also through social media forums and reviews about locations, programmes, and universities.

This richness in global communications methods is both a blessing and a curse for anyone charged with marketing university placements to international students. You can position and promote your courses via digital marketing, but how do you get your ‘message’ found when your competitors are using all the same tools?

Also, few universities have the time or resources to focus on creating robust overseas links, to attract more course applicants. There are language barriers to overcome, and screening applicants can become unwieldy or fraught.

The only way to cut through and engage directly with potential overseas enrollees is to establish in-country representation in the most fertile recruitment locations.

How can ICR be achieved?

As China, India and countries such as Korea now account for such a high proportion of students studying abroad worldwide, then the ideal destination for university ICR is clear.

It’s the process of creating an in-country representation that can be tricky, especially given local regulations and the complexities of creating viable local education contacts swiftly.

Specialist help in creating university ICR can be the best solution to increasing applications from international students. This is why the services of Acumen – part of the Sannam S4 Group – are in demand, to create and deliver global business solutions for the higher education sector. Including bringing universities closer to potential overseas applicants, in a meaningful way.

Research has shown that in choosing an overseas placement, personal recommendations from a local representative can be very persuasive. Language and cultural barriers are dismantled too.

Our ICR services also give universities a streamlined and confident way to ‘onboard’ the best candidates. Including providing help with visas and other important paperwork.

Working in partnership with Acumen on ICR offers attractive budgetary advantages to ambitious Universities, as the cost of recruiting overseas students is carefully managed through this experienced intermediary.

Acumen applies its ethos of integrity, collaboration, impact, agility and empowerment across the higher education institutions it represents, and their staff and student bodies. To see how that would boost your international student enrolments, please get in touch.