I am certain that many of you have read the book, “Blue Ocean Strategy,” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.
The authors’ basic premises are that red oceans are populated by similar companies (or colleges and universities) competing for the same market. Supply, in red oceans, exceeds demand.
Blue oceans are defined by the authors as untapped markets, not currently in existence. Blue oceans create new demand. Blue ocean companies don’t focus on beating the competition. Rather, they make the competition irrelevant by opening up new and uncontested market space.
Statistics supporting higher education blue oceans
On May 14,2015 UNESCO reported that from 2000 to 2014 global participation in higher education increased from 19 percent to 32 percent. Many of these new international students did not travel abroad for their education but rather enrolled in online or MOOC courses. (Example of new and uncontested market.)
A report by the Organization of Economic Operation and Development revealed that there were about 1.8 billion people worldwide in the middle class in 2009 and by 2020 the global middle class is estimated to increase to 3.3 billion. (Example of new demand.)
Last year the U.S. Census Bureau reported that only one-third of American adults have a bachelor’s degree and there are 35 million college dropouts over the age of 25. (Is this a new cohort of students for competency-based degrees?)
Examples of blue ocean thinking
Enrolling high school seniors in first year college courses
Offering college courses to international students
Partnering with retailers to offer college courses for employees at a reduced rate like the agreement between the University of Arizona and Starbucks
Developing a stacking credentials document (listing competencies) to replace the traditional college transcript.
How to fish in blue oceans for international students
Create new marketing and recruitment plans, based on research, that move from strategy to execution, and create a culture of curiosity and imagination that challenges deeply held beliefs and university cultures.
Why and where you should recruit international students
The number of college students in the United States has been declining since 2010 when about 21 million people were enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities. According to a report issued by the National Student Clearinghouse, in the fall of 2014, there were 812,069 fewer students enrolled in higher education institutions.
Low birthrates in many European countries and some Asian countries, namely Japan, have resulted in fewer potential college students in those countries.
Worldwide demographic and societal changes have resulted in an “arms race” by many countries and many colleges and universities to enroll as many full-paying international students as possible.
The Intelligence Unit of “The Economist,” has released a report titled “Education to 2030,” that claims that economic, social and technological developments are making a quality education more important than ever before. And the report forecasts growth in the global economic sector for the next several years.
The recent past decades have witnessed tremendous growth in the numbers of students from China, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. But economic and political changes in each of those countries warrants caution. Colleges and universities worldwide who have relied on enrollments from these countries to help meet financial goals should begin to re-evaluate and re-write their strategic international recruitment plans and diversify their international student population.
Where should you recruit?
In addition to recommending recruiting in Iran, Vietnam, and India, I would suggest the following:
According to the International School Consultancy, there are more than 4.3 million students being educated at more than 8,200 international schools worldwide. By 2026, enrollment is projected to reach 8.7 million. Students enrolled in international schools should be considered as primary recruitment markets.
The United Arab Emirates is the global leader in English medium school enrollment. There are more than half a million students enrolled in 548 international schools in the Emirates. I would take another look at the schools in the Emirates for both undergraduate and graduate students.
Malaysia is emerging as a higher education superpower, both in terms of numbers and quality of education. The country has the largest number of international students in the region and has recently emerged as a priority destination among students from rapidly developing countries. Last year Malaysia enrolled approximately 150,000 students and by the year 2020, plans to increase that number to 200,000. This is a country that is prime for both developing either combined degree programs or articulation agreements or for graduate student enrollment.
Germany has about 400 higher education institutions and is a leader in Europe for attracting both degree seeking and study abroad students. As with Malaysia, there are many areas of potential collaboration with German institutions.
Few schools have the resources to develop several new recruitment markets. Select the countries most compatible with what your school has to offer, do the necessary research, get approval, create meaningful marketing messages, train your international recruiters and develop analytics that will guide future plans.
PS Just read this. Proposed legislation in California would limit the number of out of state and international students to 10 percent of public colleges and universities. If this gets approved I expect other states to follow with similar legislation.
What Keeps Presidents and Vice-Chancellors Up at Night?
I was recently asked to write a paper on the pressing issues facing higher education.
I wrote the following; listing the issues that I think presidents and vice chancellors face in today’s changing higher education landscape:
Critical warning signs, ignored by many higher education administrators, including shifting demographics, changes in student mobility practices and the public’s changing trust in the benefits of higher education
Increasing tuition and student debt and increasing institutional debt and debt service payments
Outmoded and unsustainable business models
Long standing administrative structures that limit innovation and creativity
Lack of recognizing and incorporating technological realities, including MOOCs, online and hybrid courses into curriculum
Lack of clear pricing and competitive advantages
Inability to align organizational structures with new student cohorts
Lack of flexibility and nimbleness in recognizing new and diverse educational opportunities
Lack of new product development
Lack of student progression and graduation
Disconnect between undergraduate degree and employability after graduation
Lack of incorporating career mentorship into the educational experience
Changes in accreditation criteria in the U.S. which will impact international collaborations
I am certain there are more than the 13 critical issues listed in today’s blog. But these would be enough to keep any president or vice chancellor up at night.