International Students


 
Marketing of higher education is a well-entrenched macro process today, especially in the major-English speaking nations i.e. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA. One of the major factors behind the worldwide evolution of educational marketing could be a result of globalization, which has dramatically shriveled the world. Due to intensifying competition for overseas students amongst MESDCs, i.e. major English speaking destination countries, higher educational institutions recognize the significance of marketing themselves, in the international arena. 
 
Amongst the five major English speaking destination countries, the United Kingdom is the second largest source market for international students, after the United States. The latest data (2002-03) indicates that there are over 270,000 international students in UK higher education, generating over £1.2 billion per annum, in fee revenue and add over £2.5 billion gross addition to the UK economy (Bohm et al, Vision 20-20.). 
In addition, there are nearly two-hundred thousand international students following UK higher education programs delivered in their own countries (Bohm et al. Vision 20-20.). The UK government has sponsored various initiatives to multiply international students, with the ambition to become the leading destination country, for international education. However, the gap between the United States and the United Kingdom appears to be increasing, as seen in the table. In 2002, the United Kingdom managed to attract 23.6% of the international students globally, whereas the USA attracted more than double than that of the U.K, with 58.4%. Between 1997 and 2002 the UK’s relative market share declined by 3.1%. 
 
 
Even though Canada and Australia achieved the highest compound growth rate, they still lag behind the USA and the UK in terms of the total student number. However, in terms of the overall growth rate, Australia and the USA have experienced an extensive success. This continuing strong growth in overseas student numbers in the USA and Australia is due to the sustained pro-active and aggressive marketing strategies of the USA and Australia in the international markets for education) while the UK is behind in terms of its strategic marketing policies (Binsardi & Ekwulugo, 2003). The above-mentioned table summarizes the growth in market share for each of the MESDCs.
 
International Students
 
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International students are vital for higher education system and their presence in universities & colleges have had several positive outcomes:
 
The availability of range of programs and high quality courses 
The research output;
Enhanced revenues
Internationalization of the student and staff body
Improved efficiency and international competitiveness
 
 
In addition, the presence of international students facilitates in realization of a country’s widening participation scheme. Globally, there is also significant number of international students in further education and private colleges, as well as in English language training institutions, which forms a pathway for of higher education courses. 
 
 
Primary Attractive Factors - 
UKAC – United Kingdom, Australia, Canada
 
The primary attractive factors to study in the major universities in UK, Australia, Canada (UKAC) and is its quality of education and research, which has reputation of being the best. The academic reputation and brand image of ancient as well as modern universities is an enticing factor, which tempts students across the globe, to enroll and experience the highly regarded education system of these nations. The third attractive factor to study in a these universities, is affordability i.e. students’ perceptions of the cost of living and tuition fees in a study destination. A high performance rating for affordability implies that the destination’s perception as relatively lower cost. UKAC is also considered relatively safe in terms of cultural and social destination. The fifth most attractive factor to study in a UKAC Universities is its lifestyle, i.e. factors such as sports, music, fashion, nightlife plus others such as cultural tolerance, acceptance etc.
 

Primary Attractiveness Factors
 
Quality of Education: The education process: this broadly corresponds to ‘academic reputation’ and ‘academic and social support’.
 
Employment Prospects: The education outcome: this corresponds to the perceived value of a destination country’s qualifications within the local and global labor markets.
 
Affordability: Students’ perceptions of the cost of living and tuition fees in a study destination. A high performance rating for affordability implies that the destination is perceived as being relatively lower cost.
 
Personal Security/Risk: General perception of safety and security within the destination country. This excludes the concept of ‘cultural security’, which is considered in ‘lifestyle’.
 
Lifestyle: Encompasses factors such as sports, music, fashion, nightlife plus others such as cultural tolerance, acceptance, similarity, or difference. International students’ emphasis will likely vary with country of origin and ethnicity.
 
However, customers i.e. the students; are becoming demanding and discriminating with implications for customer service and product offerings. There is small shift in the perception of international students in terms of quality & associated value. Student’s expectations are escalating dramatically and this is set to continue, due to the hefty fees associated with their educational programs. Students are now much more conversant with technology; they are much more media, advertising, & brand literate; and thus more demanding in terms of the customer services. Students, do not only look for a degree or a postgraduate qualification, they rather explore options to continuously, upgrade their skills & knowledge, to compete in highly competitive world. Students considering studying outside their home country have the perception of experiencing high quality education, obtain an internationally recognized qualification, and get a clear-cut advantage in employment, over others. Experiencing a different culture is another key factor driving the decision to study overseas as is, improving their language skills. The fundamental shift in the funding of higher education towards the consumer has had a profound impact on the expectations and needs of students. Fundamentally, this shift has resulted in a breakdown in the traditional student-professor relationship, now replaced by a customer-service relationship. Countries perceive that by internationalizing their education they will be able to reap substantial benefits and improve their overall competitive position in the global economy. By internationalizing their education, they are able to attract intellectual capital, particularly at postgraduate level. In many countries, intense competition in the employment sector is fostering the acuity amongst the youths that absence of an international degree, will be disadvantageous in the cutthroat job market. 
 
 
The quality of a UKAC degree, in additions to an international experience, and English as a medium of teaching, significantly attracts a potential student. However, some of the apparent advantages of UK education appear to be fading. .The lead in the area of quality may to be narrowing, as an increasing number of competitors in Continental Europe are now delivering their courses in English. In the case of educational institutions, a change in the managerial mindsets is essential, as they need to refrain from simply seeing their international activities as an exercise in student recruitment. The implications of this would be significant and would involve:
 
  1. A greater emphasis upon staff and student exchanges
  2. A growth in the number of international partnerships
  3. The more effective and widespread use of consortium arrangements
  4. The clearer ownership of and commitment to the international strategy by senior managers
  5. A greater emphasis upon strategic planning and a greater willingness to invest for the long term, linked to the ability to manage risk and a clearer understanding of the return on international investment.
 
 
Education UKAC brand has been successful; there is evidence of high perceptions of quality and value from students. However, in terms of career prospects perceptions were not as high as might have been expected when compared to a US qualification. MORI’s research conducted for the British Council indicates that they are progressing towards creating a more positive perception of the UK (British Council, Consultation document). However, there are still inherent weaknesses in the UKAC’s offer, particularly in US dominated markets, where a US qualification is regarded better investment. s
 
The MORI research (British Council, Consultation document) suggest that most influential information source comes from people students know and trust or on first-hand experience of people who have undertaken this experience. Personal recommendation is the most influential factor in determining where students decide to study. Private partnerships are playing a significant role in assisting the students’ to meet demands for increasing choice and flexibility.