International Education Strategy and Marketing

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This News and Views page is my Blog.

I use it to:

  • View from Prague Congress Centre - EAIE 2014share tips and advice on internationalisation approaches
  • highlight training, conferences or events that I am involved with
  • link to helpful or interesting news items, reports or other resources
  • comment on topics relevant to those working in international education

This page shows the ten most recent blog articles. A complete list of all articles since the blog started in May 2014 can be found on the Blog Archive page.

Vicky Lewis Consulting Blog

Back to the Future

Posted on 1 Jun 2020 at 13:24 by Vicky Lewis

Going Global 2006 (not a typo...)

Going Global 2020June will be a month that includes some interesting-sounding live webinars to replace the British Council’s cancelled Going Global 2020 conference.

In addition to the ‘after the storm’ type sessions triggered by the Covid-19 crisis, there are some familiar (but nonetheless valuable) themes. Topics include: improving employment outcomes in a changing world; diversity, equity and inclusion in HE; the future of transnational education; and reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.   

This morning, I happened be leafing through my DBA thesis, completed way back in the mists of time (2007), long before Brexit, long before coronavirus. The thesis is on ‘integrated internationalism’ in UK higher education and looks at the drivers for and approaches to internationalisation within the UK HE sector at that time (mid-2000s).

Within the thesis, I stumbled across my summary of the 2006 Going Global conference (this was only the second time the conference had run).

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The Travelling Mindset

Posted on 20 May 2020 at 14:46 by Vicky Lewis

An Alternative to Jetting Round the World

(Alternative to) jetting round the worldIn a recent update to Halpin friends and fellows, our attention was drawn to a fascinating article on The Book of Life website entitled On Confinement.

Drawing on the thinking of 17th century French philosopher, Blaise Pascal, it challenges the belief that ‘we must always go to new places in order to feel and discover new and worthwhile things’ and urges us to make the most of what is close at hand.

Towards the end of the 18th century another Frenchman, Xavier de Maistre, ‘decided to study the wonders and beauty of what lay closest to him, entitling the account… A Journey Round my Room’.

What really struck me about this was the insight that ‘the pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to. If only we could apply a travelling mindset to our own rooms and immediate neighbourhoods, we might find these places becoming no less interesting than foreign lands.’

He suggests that the chief characteristics of a travelling mindset are receptivity, appreciation and gratitude. And that ‘crucially, this mindset doesn’t need to wait for a faraway journey to be deployed’.

It seems to me that, at a time when we cannot jet round the world and when we have an opportunity to shake off our environmentally damaging addiction to long-haul travel, this is a very pertinent message. And a useful lens through which universities might consider their aspirations for Internationalisation at Home.

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Ditching the dichotomies in international HE

Posted on 6 May 2020 at 11:40 by Vicky Lewis

Commonality, not difference

Ditching the dichotomiesWhen it comes to international higher education, we are very fond of putting things in boxes and framing them in terms of dichotomies.

  • International students vs. domestic students.
  • ‘Sending’ countries vs. ‘receiving’ countries.
  • TNE students vs. ‘true’ international students.
  • Distance learning vs. ‘standard’ programmes.
  • Internationalisation ‘at home’ vs. internationalisation ‘abroad’.

This desire to categorise can be unhelpful, highlighting differences at a time when the boundaries between many of these categories are becoming increasingly blurred.

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No going back (in a good way)

Posted on 21 Apr 2020 at 14:26 by Vicky Lewis

Changes to hold on to

No going backWithin the higher education sector (and beyond), we’re starting to read some pieces advising us where to focus our efforts when the coronavirus dust settles, but it’s difficult to get the timing right. Some people may be tuned into forward planning, while others are still in fire-fighting mode.

Simon Anholt, founder of The Good Country Index (which measures what each country contributes to the greater good of humanity), has used Twitter to initiate a new hashtag: #staychanged. The idea is to highlight those positive (often kinder, greener) behaviours that the pandemic has triggered, which we would like to hold on to after it is over.

This blog reflects on institutional behaviours (within UK HE) that we’re seeing now, which are essential during the current crisis and will continue to be valuable if they can be maintained afterwards.  

In each case, I look at how the changed behaviour plays out in the context of international student recruitment.

I’ve selected five changes for the better. (There are doubtless many more.)

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International Graduate Employability

Posted on 10 Feb 2020 at 16:05 by Vicky Lewis

A new frontier for UK HE

International graduate employability reportSometimes conferences generate a lot of media (and social media) buzz. That was the case with the 28 January UUK International event on International Graduate Employability: Making Good on the Promise. Perhaps this was because it was the first of its kind to connect together some important agendas, which need to be thought about holistically rather than in isolation.

Of course, one of the first developments that comes to mind when one thinks about international graduate employability is the long-awaited new post-study work route, which will allow international graduates of UK HEIs to seek and undertake employment in the UK for two years after they graduate. While this is extremely welcome, it opens up some questions about whether UK universities are equipped to meet the expectations of their international students – not only the small minority who choose to remain in the UK, but also the 90 per cent who, on graduation, return home to pursue their careers.

This article highlights three themes that came through loud and clear at the conference, before suggesting some practical ways in which HEIs can adapt to support the employability of their international graduates.

For alliterative purposes, the three themes can be summarised as:

  • Character
  • Collaboration
  • Cash

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How UK universities can help to re-position our country in the eyes of the world

Posted on 11 Jul 2019 at 17:21 by Vicky Lewis

A challenge to the sector

Re-positioning the UKThe UK’s global reputation has been damaged in the eyes of many of our friends around the world. They look at our behaviour (particularly since the 2016 referendum) and are, by turns, baffled, unsettled and pitying. Both our collective judgment and our competence as a nation have been called into question. There is a need to reinvent our relationships with the rest of the world – and universities have a significant role to play.

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A different kind of international education strategy

Posted on 12 Jun 2019 at 15:17 by Vicky Lewis

Looking outwards

In my last blog post, Through the Looking Glass, I presented a different perspective on university internationalisation. One where university leaders treat internationalisation not as an inward-facing process that will make their institution more famous, wealthier Looking outwardsor – in some way – ‘better’, but as an outward-looking lens through which the institution can explore and strengthen its role within the global ecosystem.

Although many UK HEIs still take a fairly parochial, silo-ed approach to international strategy development, there are indications that some university leaders are starting to expand their vision.

As always, the national strategy lags well behind the thinking of those institutions that are in the vanguard.

One problem at national level (which echoes the challenges at institutional level) is that different departments have different agendas. Efforts are at best fragmented, at worst pulling in different directions.

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Through the looking glass

Posted on 16 May 2019 at 16:12 by Vicky Lewis

Seeing internationalisation in a different light

Through the looking glassAt the end of my last blog, I expressed the hope that – over coming years – we (those of us working in higher education) will ‘critically engage with the “why” of internationalisation… and remember that the benefits… should be felt by all stakeholders’.

Earlier this week I read a University World News article by Stephanie Doscher (Florida International University), which asks the question ‘why internationalise?’.

The author draws on Simon Sinek’s concept of ‘why’ as a values proposition: the ‘purpose, cause or belief’ that gives rise to what you do and how you do it. She concludes that ‘under the right conditions, internationalisation significantly increases interactions among diverse people, ideas and perspectives, leading to enhanced knowledge production and the fulfilment of higher education’s fundamental purpose’.

As such, internationalisation is seen as an essential vehicle for HEIs to fulfil their ultimate mission (‘the production and exchange of new knowledge about the world and its inhabitants’), rather than an optional extra.

This set me thinking about the gulf between the dominant drivers for HE internationalisation in the UK (which are still largely instrumentalist) and those which might come to the fore if internationalisation was treated as integral to HE’s core purpose.

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25 years in international higher education

Posted on 8 Mar 2019 at 10:33 by Vicky Lewis

What's changed?

I was going for a run the other morning when it dawned on me that 2019 marks my 25th year in international higher education (which certainly makes me feel my age).

EAIE Winter 2016 ForumA lot has changed since I started out on a nine-month contract as a part-time International Officer at what was then University of Wales Lampeter (now part of University of Wales Trinity St David). The institution had never had an International Officer before and my role was a hotchpotch of Erasmus exchange coordination, international marketing and international student support. Plus a few random other duties on the side.

It stood me in good stead for my next International Office role at Edinburgh Napier University. This was ostensibly an International Recruitment Officer post, but (thanks to a long-term vacancy) started off with a frantic scramble trying to organise an international orientation programme and getting new students settled in. From international recruitment (which seemed to involve marketing and communications as well), my remit broadened to include international partnerships and establishing a study abroad programme, as I worked my way up to Deputy Director.

Then, in 2000, I moved to the other end of the UK to set up Bournemouth University’s first International Office. It was helpful to have had hands-on experience of so many different roles myself. New challenges included taking over from the Business School the management of preparatory English programmes, which introduced me to the worlds of academic administration and, in due course, public-private partnerships. I also experienced my fair share of institutional politics thanks to thirteen years on the University Leadership Team.

Since 2013, I’ve been working for myself as an independent consultant, specialising in international strategy development and planning for higher education providers and related organisations. That’s provided me with some wonderful insights into the cultures and priorities of different types of institution – both in the UK and overseas.

So, what’s changed in the world of international higher education over the last 25 years?

I’m going to highlight three key changes – one at individual / operational unit level, one at organisational level and one at national / international level. They’re drawn mainly from my experience of the UK context, so I’d be interested to hear whether they resonate in other parts of the world.

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Governing body engagement with TNE strategy

Posted on 18 Sep 2018 at 14:27 by Vicky Lewis

'Very supportive, if confused...'

This blog is the final one in a series, outlining the findings of a small survey 'Supportive if confused'conducted in June 2018.

It expands on some of the top level findings presented at the TNE-Hub Symposium on ‘Transnational Education: Innovations in Practice’ on 11 July 2018. Presentations (in my case a joint one with Dr Janet Ilieva, entitled: Evolving TNE approaches: from short-termism to sustainability?’) are downloadable from here.

The survey investigated:

  • how TNE drivers and approaches have changed for UK HEIs over the last few years;
  • the priority that UK HEIs give to different modes of delivery and levels of study in their future TNE strategies;


  • the kind of engagement that governing bodies have with TNE strategy.

My first blog covered the first topic of how institutional TNE strategies and drivers have changed in the UK HE sector over the last few years. You can read it here.

The second blog explored which TNE delivery modes (and levels of study) are most prominent in UK HEI’s future strategies – available here.

This final blog in the series highlights key findings from my survey question about the nature of governing body engagement - and draws together key insights from the survey exercise as a whole.

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