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

Five years of consultancy

Posted on 25 Apr 2018 at 15:25 by Vicky Lewis

Observations on going independent

It’s coming up for the fifth anniversary of setting up my business, Vicky Lewis Consulting, which specialises in international strategy development and marketing planning for higher education providers in the UK and beyond.

Vicky as a child steering a boatI’ve had a lot of people ask me what I like best about working for myself. That’s easy to answer: the flexibility; the opportunity to make a difference quickly; the chance to get to the nub of an issue that a client has been grappling with internally (and may have misdiagnosed); the ability to say no to projects that I’m uncomfortable with; the credibility accorded to a neutral, external party; not having to be sucked too far into internal politics. I could go on.

My children were five and three when I started my business and it was a huge bonus to be able to work around their school and nursery day, rather than having to fit their needs in around my work commitments. The immediate impact was reduced stress because I didn’t constantly feel guilty: guilty towards my employer for not working the very long hours I did before having kids; and guilty towards my children for not feeling able to get away from work for class assemblies and sports afternoons.

Yes, there was less money coming in for a while, but it was absolutely worth it.

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What international education needs

Posted on 21 Mar 2018 at 14:24 by Vicky Lewis

Inclusive approaches on every level

Inclusive approaches

There have been some significant shifts in the global discourse about higher education internationalisation recently. The Western perspective that has tended to dominate, with its assumptions that internationalisation is ‘a good thing’, is being challenged. Is it positive for everyone? And have we been guilty of taking a narrow (and lopsided) view of what it’s all about?


I attended UUKi’s International Higher Education Forum (IHEF) in Nottingham on 14 March. It was clear from the opening plenary (which involved speakers from universities in Japan, Switzerland, Canada and the USA, as well as a representative for Pacific Rim institutions) that internationalisation means different things in different contexts. However, there was broad recognition of the wider societal role of international education: the need to face outwards and to operate across institutional and national boundaries to tackle shared global challenges; the need to embrace more egalitarian and inclusive approaches to internationalisation; and the need to measure its success in new ways such as public service commitment or advancement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.


Chris Tremewan, Secretary-General of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, called for a redefinition of internationalisation in HE, moving from competitive self-interest to global common good.


This echoes recent calls for a re-examination of what universities are for: from, among many others, Shaun Horan (who emphasises their role performing ‘a service to humanity’) and Mike Boxall (who outlines a vision of them being ‘leaders and orchestrators in a variety of multi-partner “learning ecosystems”’, helping to address challenges at local, national and global level).

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Taking note

Posted on 16 Mar 2018 at 10:01 by Vicky Lewis and Julie Vincent

Listening and learning to deliver the best for our clients

Recently, Vicky Lewis Consulting and Vincent Consulting, both Higher Education specialists, partnered for the first time on a project related to international strategy development and decision making. We collaborated extensively and presented to the client together.

The feedback from the client was very positive and, as they are happy for us to share it, here it is!

Taking noteFollowing a competitive tender process, Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) commissioned Vicky Lewis Consulting and Vincent Consulting to undertake a significant piece of market research to help inform our strategy for increasing international postgraduate enrolments. We wanted to be confident of basing our decisions on rigorous data analysis coupled with a holistic understanding of the sector environment.

Vicky and Julie worked with us over a number of months. They were a joy to work with, keeping us informed every step of the way, but not overloading us with queries. Their depth of understanding of the HE sector was immediately apparent and they engaged effectively with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders.

The final report was an exceptional piece of work - exactly what we needed to steer our planning. It was clear that they had listened to stakeholders and produced something absolutely tailored to LJMU’s needs and stage of development. This also came through when Julie and Vicky presented their findings to senior staff. We were delighted with the way they collaborated seamlessly, pooling their collective expertise, and would highly recommend them.

Gemma Smith, Head of International Recruitment, Liverpool John Moores University

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Posted on 27 Sep 2017 at 14:19 by Vicky Lewis

A key theme from EAIE conference 2017

The European Association for International Education (EAIE) annual conference took place in Seville from 12-15 September. For me (and many others), there was one key theme that ran through the conference: inclusivity.

The Strategy & Management Expert Community asked participants in their Feature Session on the Wednesday morning to give a one-word response to the question ‘what will be future trends in society and internationalisation in your opinion?’. A word cloud was generated and the term inclusivity (or inclusiveness, inclusion) featured extremely prominently.

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Transnational education toolkit

Posted on 6 Jul 2017 at 09:43 by Vicky Lewis

A useful Higher Education Academy resource

The UK’s Higher Education Academy recently (June 2017) published a useful transnational education (TNE) toolkit, prepared by Dr Karen Smith (University of Hertfordshire).

ToolkitIt provides a wealth of valuable advice for anyone involved in delivering TNE. While written specifically for the UK context, many of the lessons it shares are transferable.

It covers topics such as:

  • the quality assurance and enhancement of TNE
  • the logistics of TNE teaching
  • teaching, learning and assessment in TNE
  • relationship building (with TNE students and with the TNE partner institution and its staff).

Each section draws together advice from a range of credible sources, signposting to these sources as appropriate. There are helpful checklists of questions that staff / institutions should be asking themselves; and mini case studies from those who have direct experience in the area under discussion.

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International Partnership Development

Posted on 8 Jun 2017 at 09:48 by Vicky Lewis

Some useful resources

This year I’ve been involved in delivering or co-delivering a number of training courses on some aspect of international partnerships. Participants have worked in a variety of national and institutional environments.

International HE PartnershipsRunning these courses reinforced my view that many of us are grappling with similar challenges, whatever our work context.

Things like making sure that international partnerships contribute positively to broader institutional strategies; securing internal buy-in and commitment; working out which partnerships have the potential to be ‘strategic’; being confident that you’ve chosen the ‘right’ partner; getting the right balance between top-down and bottom-up management; communicating effectively (not just with the partner, but also internally); killing off partnerships that aren’t working well; keeping track of partnership-related activity across the institution; determining what success looks like and how to measure it. I could go on.

Of course, there’s no magic answer. And short training courses can only ever point you towards asking the right questions and provide you with resources that you can use in your own institution to help find an appropriate way forward.

While preparing the courses I’ve been involved in, I’ve been struck by some of the useful resources available to those involved in international HE partnerships – and wanted to share some of these.

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Strategic International Partnerships

Posted on 16 Feb 2017 at 10:04 by Vicky Lewis

EAIE training course in Marseille

In my last blog post, I wrote about Transnational Education Partnerships as a growth area. They are, of course, just one type of international partnership in which higher education institutions engage.

Marseille - location of EAIE Spring AcademyBeyond collaborative programme delivery, partnerships can be developed to foster research activity, facilitate student exchange, provide staff development opportunities, boost knowledge transfer, build institutional capacity, improve funding prospects, strengthen global positioning and more.

But what makes an international partnership strategic?

The term ‘strategic’ is often used loosely. In 2016, the European Association for International Education published the findings of its EAIE Barometer survey on international strategic partnerships. The survey was completed by representatives of around 1500 European HEIs.

75% of respondents perceived the number of international strategic partnerships at their institution to have increased over the last three years. Many institutions reported astonishingly high numbers of ‘international strategic partnerships’. The record was set by Spain where the average number of partnerships per institution was 184.

Can all of those partnerships really be strategic? Is the quantity of international partnerships being used by some institutions as a badge of honour, an indicator of just how ‘internationalised’ they are?

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Developing Transnational Education Partnerships

Posted on 27 Jan 2017 at 13:54 by Vicky Lewis

New Training Course

International partnerships have steadily increased in importance for UK HEIs over recent years. Research undertaken a few years ago by Vincenzo Raimo and Charlotte Harrison (published in The Guardian) indicates that ‘development / expansion of international partnerships’ was the most cited priority within UK universities’ international strategies, with 92% of universities considering it a priority.

Of course, international partnerships have a range of drivers and come in various forms – from research-based collaborations to student and staff exchanges or programme delivery partnerships.

Transnational education (TNE) is also a growth area. According to HEGlobal’s 2016 report on The Scale and Scope of UK Higher Education Transnational Education, ‘four in five higher education institutions intend to expand their TNE provision over the next three years’ (HEGlobal p.6).

TNE modes tend to be categorised as either ‘independent’ (e.g. distance / online learning without local support; standalone branch campuses / study centres) or ‘collaborative’ (academic programmes delivered in conjunction with one or more local partners – whether via franchised delivery, joint and dual degrees, twinning arrangements, validation and quality arrangements, distance / online learning with local support, or a joint campus).

TNE PartnershipsTNE partnerships (also referred to as collaborative TNE or local delivery partnerships) sit at the intersection of international partnerships and TNE (see the star in the middle of the Venn Diagram). Of course, these things are never clear-cut. Such TNE partnerships may involve other typical international partnership activities (see examples in left hand bubble); and they may be blended with other, more independent, modes of TNE (see examples in right hand bubble).

What is clear is that there has been a trend amongst UK universities towards more partnership-led models of TNE; that ‘partnership approaches with host country partners are becoming more equitable’ (HEGlobal p.6), and that partnerships are ‘becoming much more strategic, long-term and sustainable’ (Repéres no.15, cited in HEGlobal p.11/12).

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A Journey Through Time and Space

Posted on 11 Jan 2017 at 11:34 by Vicky Lewis

The Changing Role of the International Officer

The theme of the European Association for International Education’s (EAIE) most recent Forum magazine is ‘The New International Officer’. It includes a range of great articles about the challenges for higher education international officers now and in the future, and the attributes, knowledge and skills that professionals in this area of work need.

EAIE Winter 2016 ForumI contributed an article to the magazine, entitled ‘A Journey Through Time and Space’, which looks at changes in the international officer role over time in a range of different national settings.

Having taken up my very first international office role (in a small Welsh university) in 1994, I am fascinated by the way expectations have changed within my own national context (the UK) over the course of my career. So I thought it would be interesting to speak to Senior International Officers (Director / Head of International / Pro Vice-Chancellor / VP International level) from a range of different countries about the changing nature of the international officer role - and their predictions for the future.

I engaged with eight Senior International Officers working in varied institutional settings. Between them, they had held international relations roles in ten different countries (France, Morocco, New Zealand, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA). Many common themes emerged (such as a universal sense of professionalisation within the field), as well as some variations linked to national context. These experienced practitioners also offered some helpful advice for ambitious individuals at an earlier stage in their international office career.

Here’s a pdf version of my article (along with the contents page and editorial of the Winter 2016 Forum magazine - see final two pages of pdf for my article). The rest of the magazine can be downloaded by EAIE members from the Association’s website.

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New EAIE Pathways to Practice Guide

Posted on 15 Dec 2016 at 15:35 by Vicky Lewis

Strategic Marketing for International Student Recruitment

I was asked by the European Association for International Education (EAIE) to develop the first of their Pathways to Practice e-guides.

EAIE Pathways to Practice guideThis new series of practical guides is designed to be a 'practitioner's toolkit'.

This first guide has two purposes:

  • To help practitioners to argue the case for a strategic marketing-based approach to international student recruitment.
  • To guide them through the process of creating a robust international marketing and student recruitment plan. 

Any successful student recruitment plan is built on strategic marketing and long-term relationship building. Resources need to be focused on the most productive activities. 

This guide seeks to provide a useful framework to keep your planning on track.

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