Market your higher education institution internationally

Market your higher education institution internationally

Higher education institutions are becoming increasingly integrated in the global education market and institutions are facing rising competition for the best students. To be able to compete successfully, a good international marketing plan is essential, yet many institutions are still novices in taking a strategic approach to international marketing. This article and subsequent free e-resource will set you off on the right path to international marketing success.

International marketing is not a separate endeavour but an activity supporting and facilitating all the activities of a university. The strategic priorities of each university vary, and hence it is crucial to understand and tailor your marketing plan to your institution’s strategy. Your job becomes significantly easier if your university is committed to realising its international strategy. All you need to do then is demonstrate that your marketing plan can help support it.

No international strategy?

If a truly embedded international strategy is not a reality at your university, tie your plan to the university’s overall mission instead. Each university has a different set of priorities and commitments, but for all institutions, teaching and research matter – albeit in varying compositions. Can you show that your marketing plan will improve academic quality? If yes, then you are on the right track. It is important to remember that ‘academic quality’ can be interpreted differently at different institutions. In addition to teaching and research, the university’s third mission – its other contributions to society – has become increasingly important over the past years. Showing that international marketing can improve the attractiveness of the region or provide education to disadvantaged international students is always a plus.

Lose the marketing jargon

When communicating your marketing plan, keep in mind that you are a professional marketer and used to working in a business environment, but the colleagues you need to work with and convince are most likely not marketeers. With the risk of generalising too much, not many university staff are in favour of spending funds on marketing and treating the university’s education as a commodity. It is therefore important to address your audience in their own language. In other words, don’t use too much business and marketing terminology. To successfully engage the academics in your marketing plan, seek to approach the matter from a perspective familiar to them, such as the institution’s international reputation and its ability to reach prospective talented international students.

If you’re interested in finding out how to translate your university’s priorities into an international marketing plan, download the chapter from Marketing your institution internationally, Volume 3, EAIE Professional Development Series, to get you started.