Category: UK

UK universities can be much more innovative in marketing in India

“UK universities need to be more innovative, less conservative and worry less about the Post Study Work visa”

Indian student numbers to the UK have fallen substantially in the last few years because of tighter visa controls. India was left out of an expanded list in June this year relaxing Tier 4 visa rules. But this is the new normal now. British universities need not use these excuses to justify low recruitment in India but do need to become more innovative in how they recruit.

The Foreign Providers Bill was long seen as a panacea for UK universities to enter the Indian market. In 2015, India’s National Knowledge Commission in 2005 recommended the establishment of Independent Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE), replacing the higher and technical education regulators. The Higher Education and Research (HER) Bill 2011 sought to do the same, additionally seeking to grant greater autonomy to well-performing institutions.

In June 2017, the current government announced its intention to replace both the higher and technical education regulators with the Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency (HEERA) instead. A month later, reports suggested the plans were on hold. Sometime thereafter, they were back on track. Then, formally earlier this year, the plans were finally superseded with a version more acceptable to the sector.

There is a very simple reason for this policy vacillation. The education portfolio in the Indian government is not as prestigious as many others. Governments don’t like spending political capital on reforming this sector when far greater political dividends can be achieved elsewhere.

In the Joint UK-India Trade Review earlier this year, the UK government identified several barriers to entry for increased UK-India education trade, including restrictions on repatriation of investment profits, lack of mutual recognition of one-year UK Masters programmes, twinning programmes not being recognised and foreign universities not being allowed to set up.

These are all fair points to make, but there is little prospect of changes happening in India any time soon. Instead, UK universities would be better served by being more pragmatic.

“It sounds simple, but UK universities should focus more on what Indian students want to buy, not what the UK wants to sell”

First, provide guaranteed placements or internships to Indian students. Indian parents and students care far more about ROI than Chinese students and are less likely to be worried about a poor TEF rating if the course guarantees an internship, however short. I have had multiple cold calls from London-based universities asking me to take on international interns. Leaving aside the GDPR implications, I’ve been surprised at how poorly those organisations have understood the CV they are pitching to me. Some universities outside the Russell Group, are slowly beginning to realise the power of this marketing.

Second, reduce dependence on agents. This model of recruitment in India (indeed, elsewhere too) focuses on what a university wants to sell, not what the student / their parents want to buy. Agent models of selling work better for the top-rated universities, not the second tier. Online avenues of marketing like Shikhsa.com have far better reach and are significantly more cost-effective.

Third, understand the Indian psyche better. UK institutions are not always on point when it comes to understanding the thought process of Indian students. A prospective European student may see a marketing message about a variety of on-campus clubs, societies and extra-curricular activities, and think that represents the opportunity to develop as a person. An Indian student may see the same marketing message and think about how much extra money this will all cost.

Fourth, focus on Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Yes, they might not have a nice Sheraton or Taj, but there are plenty of rich parents there, who want to send through children abroad. British universities are – amongst its global competitors – the most conservative when it comes to targeting these smaller cities.

Fifth, understand the power of PR and networks in India. I recently arranged a guest lecture for a visiting academic at a TEF Gold institution at short notice, at a leading college in Bangalore, at the request of their India office lead. The students had great feedback and the college Principal thought it was a wonderful collaboration opportunity. Subsequently, at least a dozen leading academics from the UK university have visited different cities in India, and no guest lectures have been arranged.

“These were missed opportunities to reach out to the right kind of enthusiastic student, without having to pay for stalls at student fairs or commission to agents”

Supplement this with more marketing through WhatsApp groups and a concerted PR campaign means that the universities can reach an audience that goes much beyond just a student fair.

According to Rohit Ramesh, Head of International Recruitment at Liverpool University, they were one of the first universities to successful try the PR route in India, paying significant dividends in terms of recruitment. Dr Sonal Minocha, Pro Vice Chancellor at Bournemouth University, has led an annual Festival of Learning in India and other countries, that enable UK students to experience India, and establish an innovative way of marketing the university in-country.

There is plenty of scope for UK universities to expand in India. To do this, UK universities need to be more innovative, less conservative and worry less about the Post Study Work visa.

About the author: Pratik Dattani is Managing Director of EPG Economic and Strategy Consulting, and has worked with educational institutions around the world on establishing innovative models of partnerships.

The benefits of studying the International Baccalaureate

“What has inspired me the most about the IB is its ability to encourage students to become internationally minded”

As students start to plan their future, choosing the right upper school curriculum is often a difficult decision to make. Faced with so many options, from A-levels to the International Baccalaureate (IB) or even the American Advanced Placement (AP) or high school diploma, the question is which one is the best fit for their abilities? And which one will more likely lead to a good degree?

I wish there was a simple answer, but it just depends on what type of student they are. Whether a good all-rounder who enjoys studying a wide range of subjects and rises to the challenge of investigative projects and exams like in the IB, or perhaps they are a more analytical mindset who prefers time to ponder their work with a curriculum focused on fewer subjects and graded more equally on coursework and exams like some A levels and the AP or whether no exams at all like the high school diploma.

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How to win international students with a mobile-first approach

“Mobile content and understanding how international students communicate is key to attracting top applicants”

Global student mobility has never been higher: there are now almost five million international students around the world at various stages of their studies.

However, despite an increase in student numbers between 1995 and 2010, growth has slowed and there is huge competition between schools, colleges and universities. Students can now pick from an ever-expanding number of establishments around the world, as well as highly respected courses online.

As applicants use technology to do everything from researching schools right through to completing their applications, it is crucial that establishments provide a high-quality digital experience, which reflects the content and experiences that students engage with daily.
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How will Brexit affect the UK’s international student community?

“The changing landscape of immigration laws could mean that youngsters need to choose their degree more wisely in order to study abroad”

Since Brexit negotiations began, UCAS has reported a surprising surge of European and international students applying to study in the UK – with figures exceeding the 100,000 mark for the first time. Many have speculated that the increase in applicants is due to a fear growing among international students: that access to further education in the UK will be limited once freedom of movement has ended come 29 March 2019.

What we know:

There is no abrupt close-down for students wishing to study in the UK in the immediate future: students starting in the academic year 2018/19 can continue undisturbed since they are secured under ‘transitional protection’.
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How educational institutions can capitalise on the rise in Chinese students

“Gain a deeper understanding of the decision-making process Chinese international students and their parents go through”

With over 500,000 Chinese students heading overseas for their education every year, China remains the top country of origin for international students worldwide. This number is expected to grow proportionately to the number of China’s upper-middle-class and affluent households, which is estimated to reach 100 million by 2020.

While the US, UK and Australia remain the most popular study destinations for Chinese students, we are starting to see new trends and preferences emerging. For instance, there has been an increase in Chinese international students going to non-English speaking countries and studying at 2nd and 3rd tier universities in English-speaking countries.
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eTextbooks: bringing learning to life for international students

“International education is changing, and it’s up to us all in the sector to keep up with the technologies that shape its future”

There is concern in the UK higher education sector that Brexit and tighter government controls on immigration are starting to put some prospective foreign students off studying in the country. It’s more important than ever for universities to improve the learning experience of international students, and in this week’s blog, we look at how digital course materials can aid students’ transition to a course in a new location.

The latest UK Council for International Student Affairs report shows that there are over 442,375 international higher education students in the UK, of which 6% are from the European Union and 13% from the rest of the world. The number of Chinese students exceeds any other nationality; almost one-third of non-EU students in the UK are from China.

“If English is not a student’s first language, absorbing the key messages across significant amounts of texts can present a real challenge on top of already stressful degree demands”

Many university courses rely on print as the primary resource to support learning and some reading materials can be very text heavy and dense to process.  Engagement with the material can be quite static and mastery of the subject can be more challenging than it should be as a result.
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Why the Duke of Edinburgh Award is important for international students

“The DofE has progressed to become more than an outdoors leadership challenge… it now reflects a much more diverse and interconnected world”

In today’s highly competitive world, young people are under enormous pressure to succeed. However, success is rarely achieved without a helping hand or a positive, life-changing experience, writes Clare Lane, head of sport at Bellerbys College.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was set up in 1956 to help young people from all walks of life navigate the challenging path to adulthood; broadening their life skills and preparing them for their future work or studies.

While individual institutions around the world may offer similar programmes, as far as I’m aware there isn’t a program on a national level comparable to the DofE Award. Agents may not be aware of the benefits the program presents tor international students in particular, which is why we should be talking about it today.

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Broadening access to education across the globe

“The number of 18-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds embarking on full-time undergraduate courses has increased 52% since 2006”

Across the world, over 159 million children have no access to pre-primary education, and 57 million remain out of school at primary school age. A staggering 103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, with more than 60% of these being female. Though global efforts are being made to redress these problems, UK HE has a vital part to play in advancing worldwide education, writes Sean de Lacey, head of sales at Diversity Travel.

The growth of online education and university expansion through branch campuses have helped to broaden learning possibilities for some, particularly in developing countries, whose access to traditional education routes may be restricted or in some cases shut off entirely.

“As popular as their uptake may be, the completion rates for MOOCs remain stubbornly low”

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) provider Coursera, which works with some of the world’s leading universities and prides itself on offering top-quality education to anyone, has in excess of 24 million users worldwide. A huge 45% of these users are from developing countries.

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Student scammers and how to stop them

“Students have always served as a favourite target for phishing scams – perhaps due to the combination of just setting out into the world while armed with a sizeable student loan in their bank accounts”

The rise in sophisticated cybercrime means a growing number of students are falling victim to malicious email scams, writes Agari field CTO, John Wilson. But are educational institutions doing all they can to protect their students from becoming targets? 

The beginning of a new academic year means millions of students are just starting their journey into higher education. It’s a time that should represent unlimited horizons and discovery for students and educators alike. Unfortunately, thanks to the growing number of cyber criminals around the world, the new academic year also means a fresh crop of unwary victims and the opportunity for a bumper payday in stolen funds.

Email phishing scams – where the criminal tricks their victim into giving up personal information through a fraudulent email – is a growing problem that even sophisticated businesses are struggling to defend against. These emails will usually impersonate a trusted identity, such as a well-known brand, public authority or even a personal contact, to trick their target into opening them.

“The more seasoned criminals will take pains to ensure their emails are indistinguishable from the real thing”

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Can the international education sector do more to welcome refugees?

“Supporting vulnerable groups such as refugees is one way we can contribute… to the wider community”

Working in education we are uniquely placed to respond to a range of societal challenges, writes IDP  UK and US director Arlene Griffiths.  At times it can seem daunting to know where to begin in order to make a difference. Over the past two years IDP has developed a corporate social responsibility strategy, and after a few “false starts”, the aim to support refugees in south Wales led IDP to the Welsh Refugee Council. This experience shows the value of CSR, both to our sector and the wider community we operate in. 

We knew we wanted to support local refugees, and we had some ideas, but how to reach them? Then a colleague on his daily commute happened to walk passed the Welsh Refugee Council offices. This sparked a thought, which then led to tentative conversations with the WRC about their needs and where we might be able to support their work by drawing upon the employability skills within our team. A year on, and the impact that we have been able to make through our collaboration with the WRC has been life changing for myself, my team, but most importantly, the people we have been able to help.

We began small; piloting some initial workshops on CV writing and job applications, before progressing onto lessons in business English, personal branding tips and the use of LinkedIn as a vehicle to connect and build a professional network. We had some amazing participants that were fully committed to re-building their lives in the UK. They were well-qualified people with good English, hungry to learn new skills that make them ready for the workplace and attractive to UK employers or, in a number of cases, prepare them for UK universities to undertake further study.

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