Helping an Australian university regain lost international student market share

Helping an Australian university regain lost international student market share

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This Australian university is ranked in the top 2% of the world’s universities and has multiple campuses.

The university’s international student enrolment was facing a downturn

Facing rapid changes in global trends, the university sought to reposition itself in the international student market and improve enrolment. The vice-chancellor commissioned Nous to review its international strategy and international office; redesign its international student program portfolio and processes for ensuring market alignment; and improve its organisational performance – especially its marketing and recruitment functions, regional and offshore structure, and relationships with its agent network.

Nous took a holistic approach to analysing the underlying causes

Nous adopted a holistic approach to our review that considered postgraduate, undergraduate and offshore delivery and leveraged performance in the domestic and undergraduate markets. We:

  1. conducted wide-ranging data analysis to understand current and past performance relative to national trends to test the impact of a range of issues thought to be the cause of the enrolment downturn
  2. undertook benchmarking analysis to understand international performance trends and assessment of agent relationship management and performance
  3. consulted with a large cross-section of university staff, third party agents and other external stakeholders to test our findings and seek their input into the qualitative aspects.

Following the initial engagement, Nous was subsequently invited to facilitate a process of setting new international recruitment targets between the international office and faculty heads.

Our recommendations resulted in double-digit growth

Nous recommended “very sensible and actionable” ways to improve aspects of the university’s international strategy and international student office that resulted in double-digit growth in international student enrolments the following year, and growth is expected to continue through to 2020.

What you can learn from the university

Benchmarking against comparable organisations helps gauge and improve performance.

Ensuring operating models are well-suited to the contemporary environment will have a material impact on performance.

Setting shared targets between administrative and academic functions in a transparent and evidence-based way can support a unified response to challenging market conditions.