Emerging economies throughout the world present excellent opportunities for businesses in the UK to attract a wider audience from overseas.
Given the decline in the number of British students receiving private education, UK boarding schools should look to capitalise on the fortunes of overseas families that want to provide their children with the best education.
The British education system is regarded as the best in the world, and parents of foreign students are keen to send their child to a traditional British private school for a number a reasons.
Research conducted by the International School Community (ISC) reveals that one in five students in UK based private schools come from overseas. And there are also opportunities to establish schools on foreign soil.
Mark Herbert, head of the Schools Programmes at the British Council says: “The UK has long held a reputation for world-class education and this emerging opportunity for growth overseas is exciting.”
ISC figures show that the majority of foreign pupils come from China, Hong Kong and Russia. In total there are 44,000 foreign pupils that attend private schools in the UK, and a further 22,000 that go to British schools in based overseas.
And with strong economic growth in emerging economies such as Asia, parts of South America and the Middle East, there is a growing international market for private schools in the UK to tap into.
Why do foreign students want to attend British private schools?
The British education system has a reputation for providing a quality academic experience without the rigidity and politics education systems in other countries enforce.
Attending a private school based in the UK is appealing from both parents and children. Students are given a unique experience to embrace another culture and explore a new which helps them mature as a person.
Parents are also assured they are paying for a good education and are keen for their child to learn British English over American English. There is also the belief that students have more chance of being accepted into a British University if they receive a UK standard education.
Establishing private schools overseas is also becoming an appealing option. Since Harrow built the first British campus overseas in Bangkok in 1998, it is reported that there are 44 boarding schools with campuses overseas.
The influence of the British education system in international schools has also enhanced the reputation of the UK private schools. More than 40 per cent of international schools run British curriculums.
Leading boarding schools are already targeting local markets and building high profile strategies designed to give them global expansion. So how are private schools attracting international students?
Marketing a private education overseas
The appeal of a British education sells itself, but how do private schools attract students over their competitors? First of all, you have to know your audience.
Understanding the culture of your target market is important and by demonstrating that you have facilities and programs that help foreign students integrate into a new environment offer comfort to students who will naturally feel somewhat intimidated about moving overseas to study.
However, it is important not to give the impression that foreign students will be placed in an environment they are already accustomed to, nor one that is completely alien to them.
Parents want to see their children experiencing a different culture and typically express a desire for their children to speak UK English, but they also want to have peace of mind that their child will be happy and integrate into a different society and a new way of life.
Parents don’t want their children to only hang out with other students from their own country, but they don’t want them to feel alone and isolated either.
In your marketing campaign focus on diversification and demonstrate that your school accepts a good mix of international students that are encouraged to join groups, events and activities alongside British students.
Translate copy into native languages
The website of a private school looking to attract international students should include multiple languages. Do not assume that parents and students in your target markets will have a good enough command of English to understand everything.
Furthermore, choosing an education is a massive life decision, and students want to feel secure and comfortable with their choice. It is therefore imperative for private schools to establish trust from the outset.
When appealing to international consumers it is pertinent to communicate to them in their mother tongue. A survey by Common Sensory Advice reveals that 56.2% of foreign consumers feel understanding a product is more important than the price.
Online users want access to easy information and if readers have to keep referring to a dictionary to understand what your school has to offer, they will soon grow tired and leave to look elsewhere.
When translating your website into another language do not cut corners. Private schools have to communicate succinctly with consumers so use a professional translation service to ensure there are no mistakes in your web copy.
Create strong relations with international school agencies
Businesses targeting a foreign market should take advantage of institutes they can tap into for local knowledge and support. Part of your marketing strategy should include how you can work with local agencies to raise your profile in the target market.
Building strong relationships with local agencies not only increases the brand recognition of your school, but more importantly will help to raise your reputation overseas.
Forging strong ties with foreign agencies also requires you to communicate in the local language, not only as a matter of courtesy, but so they understand your requirements.
Contracts you draft for overseas students should be presented in both English and the student’s mother tongue. And if you intend to establish a campus in another country, you will require a translator that is trained in legal administration.
Whilst there are excellent opportunities for private schools in the UK to attract foreign students, your marketing efforts could be a waste of time if you do not communicate effectively with your target market.
Using the services of a professional translation agency avoids disappointment further down the line and is a low risk investment when compared with alternative ways of translating a website.