I was fortunate enough to receive an introduction from Elizabeth Scarborough that led to an invitation to present on a panel at the Australian International Education Conference in early November. The panel was led by Beth McMurtrie of The Chronicle of Higher Educationand included Stephen Holmes and Samuel Ang of The Knowledge Partnership. Our session was formatted as a debate, “The Triple International Marketing Face Off: Asia, Australia, and the United States.”
If I do say so myself, I represented our industry and nation well—the patriots among us should be proud. The core tenant of my comments was that U.S. institutions led the marketing revolution in higher education. Other institutions can learn from our successes and help us, collectively, carry the message that higher education is valuable and needs to be supported globally. BUT it is important to note that Americans, yet again, were the trailblazers.
The comments shared by my peers were quite interesting—and come with a warning for you. Asian and Australian institutions have been watching our marketing efforts very carefully, and they are positioning themselves to overtake our recruitment of full-pay, international students. Full-pay American students serve as their next enrollment targets—and they haven’t ruled out recruiting away our best faculty and researchers as well.
They can match us on one of our marketing “P’s” (promotion) and soon will be beating us silly on:
- Price (they have private and government funding in amounts that allow for free tuition for many students),
- Product (Asian and Australian institutions’ international esteem is quickly rising and rankings-wise are overtaking some of our best institutions), and
- Place (they embody the definitions of exotic and unique places to study).
I have new to-do tasks for all of you. If you aren’t yet viewing your marketing messages for resonation with international audiences or with students who desire a foreign component to their education, you had better start today. And, if you haven’t yet made the most of your international partnerships, do so now. You can either partner with select institutions or compete with them. It’s your choice.
After all, Asia and Australia are watching and waiting.