The top ten things not to do when internationalising a school
“Be realistic. You secure a good deal for your school, but if you are too greedy it will merely sour the ongoing relationship”
1. Be Greedy
Be realistic. You secure a good deal for your school, but if you are too greedy it will merely sour the ongoing relationship and lead to a renegotiation of terms when you have a less flexible and perhaps weaker bargaining position. You will not be able to rely on the agreements to oblige your local partner to operate in a way that delivers an appropriate return on investment.
2. Be too Ambitious
Again, be realistic. It takes a great deal of time, energy and capital to successfully open and operate a school overseas. If you put more emphasis on the number of schools opening rather than the quality of the school, things will go badly wrong in the mid-term.
“Be realistic. It takes a great deal of time, energy and capital to successfully open and operate a school overseas”
3. Under-Sell Yourself
It is important that you do not allow the local partner to build an extremely profitable business on the back of your school without the school receiving a fair share of those profits.
4. Expose the School to Any Commercial Risk
Ensure that you use a trading company for all third party relationships involved in the running of the overseas school. Obtain appropriate insurance cover and beware potential personal liability for the school Governors.
5. Get Too Complicated
Sophisticated structuring may be appropriate for some schools, but make sure that you don’t get sucked into overly complex schemes. They can become expensive and reduce your ability to control and exit the relationship if necessary.
6. Allow Your Potential Local Partner to Dictate the Structure
You must be in control. Listen to the partner’s concerns, take into account the local regulatory environment, but it is for you to decide the structure.
“Listen to the partner’s concerns, take into account the local regulatory environment but you must be in control”
7. Do It On The Cheap
Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Take good advice from professionals with a real track record in taking schools overseas and ensure that they can deliver more than just dry technical documentation.
8. Compromise Your School Ethos/Values
These should be the corner stone for the structuring of the deal, the documentation and the ongoing relationship.
9. Assume That The Overseas School Will be The Same As The One in the UK
A consistent approach is essential, but inevitably the demands and idiosyncrasies of each market may well mean that new challenges arise. You need to be prepared for this.
10. Underestimate The Amount Of Time And Energy It Will Take To Manage the Relationship With The Overseas School
Make sure that you have a suitable project management team on board. Governors have day time jobs and cannot always devote sufficient time. Academic staff may lack experience and have other duties. The Bursar may have too many other challenges to face. Make sure that everyone is aware of the demands that the deal will place on them and that they can meet those demands.