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Marketing Communications Management in Australian International Education

International Education Marketing (mis) Management in a Digital World:

If Australia is to diversify international education markets there needs to be less focus upon short term sales in core markets, but are personnel competent on how to achieve international student diversity effectively?

The difference now is that in the digital and knowledge economy and with all students online, the conventional means of marketing and communications are much less important, if there was ever any linkage?

Feedback from or about industry stakeholders on international education, both international and Australian, reflects Australian quality management and marketing culture, both past and present:

‘We have all these (high) fee paying international students on campus but nobody knows how we got them here on campus…… while our quality system is great ‘on paper’ but is merely that, an administrative process or box ticking.’  University International Manager mid noughties.

‘International students are viewed as an expensive nuisance to be tolerated’ U.K. VC in Times Higher Education Supplement, mid 1990s

Uni chief (VC) quits over travel row. Uni chief (VC) quits in travel row.  The university this week started an audit of travel by all senior management. La Trobe has argued that its strong international standing and high credit rating is evidence of its success…..’  The Age 2005.

‘Great news! We just received international travel approval, will be in touch to let you know when we shall visit‘ State TAFE International Head on email bulletin to all European agents mid noughties.

‘Gaining support from Senior Management for the need of international travel to be part of the marketing strategy.‘ same State TAFE International Head’s Job Description mid noughties.

‘If we used digital channels we would not need to travel’ University Language Centre Director at an education fair mid noughties.

‘Digital is not what we prefer as there are so many enquiries we do not bother to check emails, as we prefer face to face communication (even if students or agents have to wait one year?)’ TAFE Institute International Manager at an education fair mid noughties.

‘Offshore agents are suffering from fly in fly out FIFO Australian institutional representative fatigue (hosting or in country market support is demanded in contracts)’ International Education Consultant, Sydney 2011

‘It’s not a good look when one sees 10, 15, 20+ university, TAFE and state body international managers ‘distributing marketing materials’ at the same offshore event, out numbering prospective candidates, while using same agents (and unable to offer advice on visas, immigration, employment and occupations)’  International Education Consultant 2011

‘We simply don’t understand digital marketing, and especially search engine optimsation SEO, it is too technical (it’s not, albeit without benefit of any attempt at CPD in digital marketing)’ Statutory Marketing Body Senior International Education Manager, and most of the industry, 2013.

‘Afraid we cannot tell you anything about digital, web traffic and student profiles as it is neither on our job description nor do we have access to web analytics‘  University International Manager ‘on the road’ 2014

Nowadays most universities and TAFE international managers (and administrative managers in other sectors) have ‘dumbed down’ job descriptions focused upon physical outbound or offshore activity revolving round ‘distribution of marketing materials’ and ‘agent management’, seemingly bypassing the student experience and their needs, and ignoring digital channels.

Job descriptions should reflect the objectives of student satisfaction and quality with effective digital communications and marketing.  For more information about digital SEO in international education marketing click through.

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