There are currently 5.3% non-British ISC pupils with parents living overseas and 46 ISC Schools operating overseas campuses, educating a total of 27,619 pupils (ISC Census, May 2016). As such, a huge opportunity exists both in terms of International students studying here, as well as exporting a British Education abroad.
Here we examine how to make the most of this burgeoning market, which has so much to bring to British schools in terms of culture and global awareness, as well as financial benefits.
1. Focus. The world is quite literally your oyster, but as with any marketing it makes sense to focus your attentions (and your budget) on particular markets. Latest figures from the ISC show the main markets are Mainland China (which is growing rapidly), Hong Kong, Russia, Germany, France, Spain, Malaysia and Nigeria. Another key group to consider is Members of the Armed Forces who may be stationed abroad.
2. Multi-lingual sites may sound obvious, but aren’t something that everybody considers. It isn’t always necessary to create a full replica, creating miniatures of the main site in key languages is often the best way. Here you can also tailor the information on each site so it is particularly relevant for the country you are targeting. For example, information about your facilities for overseas boarders (such as how your Guardian scheme works, or how you cater for specific religions that may require a special diet e.g. Halal or Kosher). These miniature sites will improve your search presence within local search engines, meaning greater opportunity to reach key markets.
3. Cultural sensitivities - carefully consider this when selecting photography for use on digital and printed literature. This may sound obvious, but it is often easy to overlook problems in images that raise no concerns in a Western culture e.g. photos of a swimming gala. If required, user testing can be considered to ensure all imagery and language is suitable for all cultures and markets.
4. Responsiveness (creating websites that have optimal design and user experience across various screen sizes and platforms) is particularly important when considering international markets. A much higher percentage are accessing via mobile phones or tablets now as these are the primary communication tools in many households across the globe. Ensuring your website looks equally as good on different screen sizes is vital and worth considering at the planning stage of any project.
5. Developing Alumni groups in key markets. Developing a local presence both in terms of local Events and Social Media is a great way to nurture your relationship with Alumni that may otherwise be excluded from UK-based activities. Alumni are often a fantastic source of recommendation for other parents, as well as fundraisers and donors, so maintaining a good relationship with them even if they’ve left the UK is important.