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Great Britain - Empowering the World's Youth

According to the OECD, the UK's share of all 'international mobile higher education students' decreased from 10.8% to 9.9% between 2000 and 2009. In other words we are gradually becoming less competitive, losing out especially to the likes of Australia (5.1% in 2000 to 7.0% in 2009), Canada (4.6% to 5.2%), and New Zealand (0.4% to 1.9%).

Isn't it about time UK plc started marketing itself professionally to wealthy Chinese and Indian parents rather than leaving it up to individual cash-strapped institutions whose messages will be both weak and inconsistent?

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find sectors where the UK still excels internationally. Admittedly we're pretty good at some things (engineering, financial services, medical research, even agriculture - we have some of the most fertile land on the planet), but we're no longer world leaders in very much - except what is becoming known as the Knowledge Sector (Higher Education and discrete areas of R&D), and Media (marketing communications, and cultural stuff like music, TV, art, theatre and movies).

My proposition is that we combine these two strengths by using one to help sell the other, instead of moaning that British kids are being squeezed out of British unis by foreign kids - WHO ARE HELPING TO PAY FOR OUR KIDS TO BE EDUCATED AT ALL. British Higher Education is scalable. It is not a case of either domestic or foreign students!

So the plan is rather than hope each academic institution will be able to make an impression on every wealthy (or simply ambitious) Chinese and Indian parent to send them their increasing numbers of precious children, why don't we combine our marketing expertise to make a big impression on every target parent that the UK collectively offers:

  • Safety (stable government, safest roads in the world, multi-cultural, strongly secular)
  • 800 years of education excellence and globally recognised reputation
  • The home of the English language
  • Accessibility (more flights to more cities than any other country on Earth)
  • Many of their own community already here
The world's largest marketing services corporation is British (WPP), and we boast an incredible array of marketing communications expertise and talent which we already export widely. Instead of letting Chinese (etc) parents arrive at their own conclusions about where to send their darlings, why don't we take a leaf out of Australia's book and use our extraordinary marcoms skills to market the benefits of a UK education - and not just UK Universities, but all UK commercial educational institutions, including our public schools, and specialist colleges and academies?

So Minister Willetts, how about: 
  • Big fat punchy campaigns aimed at wealthy Chinese and Indian Parents selling UK Education:
    "Great Britain - Empowering your Children".
  • Make the British Council answerable to the DTI and not the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
  • Remove all obstacles for foreign students to study here.

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