International Strategy for Higher Education Institutions

Project Case Studies

This page provides some case studies of projects undertaken by Vicky Lewis Consulting.

They are clustered under the following headings:

Just click on the link above to go straight to the relevant section.

Comprehensive internationalisation strategy

International transition project and strategy development

JULY 2021 - DECEMber 2021

A Russell Group university which has been a regular client required transitional support on a 3-day a week basis while recruiting a new International Director and developing an International Strategic Plan (one of nine such Plans) to support the new institutional strategy.

This assignment was therefore twofold. It involved:

  • Overseeing and providing direction for the International Office (during a transitional period ahead of a major change programme)
  • Working at institutional level with the Vice-President International and International Executive Group to develop the International Strategic Plan

I was lead author of the resulting 5-year strategy, which articulated a vision and guiding principles for international engagement, three overarching goals (broken down into priorities, actions and desired outcomes), and included sections on resources and operations, governance and progress monitoring, risks and risk management. It was accompanied by an International Action Plan with milestones, timelines and KPIs. The model used was subsequently adopted by those leading on the development of other Strategic Plans. The International Strategic Plan was commended by the University's Council.

I also provided guidance and training to members of the International Office charged with the development of Regional Development Plans.    

International engagement and impact plan

JANUARY 2022 - APRIL 2022

A highly regarded UK university with a distinctive profile was just finalising its new institutional strategy and required external support to develop its International Engagement and Impact Plan, the first (chronologically) of six enabling strategies. This involved:

  • Engaging with a range of stakeholders (individually and in groups)
  • Co-facilitating (remotely) a University Leadership Team away-day devoted to international engagement
  • Writing the draft strategy and preparing contextual information for Council
  • In-person presentation of the draft strategy to the Academic Leadership Team
  • Refining the strategy based on stakeholder feedback

I also acted as a critical friend to the University, advising on a range of international initiatives, establishment of governance infrastructure and regional groups. Outputs included:

  • International Engagement and Impact Plan, aligned with University strategy
  • Accompanying Context Paper
  • Accompanying Action Plan
  • Creation of an exemplar (approach, format) for the other enabling strategies to follow 

Internationalisation strategy

april 2017 - october 2017

Following on from an earlier review of their international recruitment strategy, the University of Gloucestershire asked me to guide them through the process of developing an Internationalisation Strategy (their first one) to support their new Strategic Plan.

Outputs included:

  • A holistic and realistic Internationalisation Strategy to sit alongside other 'enabling strategies' for the Strategic Plan
  • Strong buy-in from staff and students as a result of effective consultation
  • Clear Goals, Priority Actions and Success Measures
  • An International Partnerships Taxonomy

Other strategy projects

Other projects contributing to comprehensive international strategy development include:

  • Desk research into comparator HEI international strategies, exploring themes and priorities and highlighting examples of good practice. This informed the international theme within the client university's strategic plan and its supporting international strategy. The work led to a request for ongoing input into the consultation process as formulation of the new strategy progressed.
  • A 7-month project guiding a university client through the entire consultation and development process for a 10-year internationalisation strategy and supporting implementation plan.
  • A short, sharp critique of a client university's draft global engagement strategy, highlighting internal coherence, clarity and efficacy, as well as evaluating alignment with other internal strategies and sector good practice.

International student recruitment

International student recruitment strategy

October 2019 - May 2020

A Russell Group university client asked me to develop a three-year institutional strategy for international student recruitment. This involved 50 stakeholder interviews, alongside desk research and analysis of internal and external data. The resulting strategy, which incorporated revisions in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, was approved and strongly supported by the University Executive Group.

Outputs included:

  • New International Student Recruitment Strategy including a vision, guiding principles, new strategic approach and explicit objectives, supporting actions and performance indicators
  • A top-level implementation plan, including next steps to progress each of the ten institutional objectives
  • Guidance on cascading implementation to Faculties and beyond.

Market research to inform international postgraduate recruitment strategy

July 2017 - january 2018

(Joint project with Julie Vincent)

Following a competitive tender process, we undertook a significant piece of market research to help inform Liverpool John Moores University's strategy for increasing international postgraduate enrolments.

Outputs included:

  • A substantial report analysing internal and external (HESA) data, competitor insights, market intelligence and stakeholder insights (external and internal)
  • Clear intelligence-driven recommendations
  • Presentation to senior staff and facilitation of discussion on next steps

Postgraduate diversification strategy

January 2019 - february 2019

I advised a prestigious French Business School on how to diversify the source countries for key Master’s programmes where certain nationalities had started to dominate. The advice took the form of a report proposing a strategy and target markets, as well a recommendations relating to the student experience, scholarships, communications and promotional tactics.

International student recruitment plan

march 2015 - april 2015

Hereford College of Arts, a specialist art and design institution with a strong interdisciplinary ethos and a growing higher education portfolio, asked Vicky Lewis Consulting to develop a tailored plan to build up its international student numbers. The College wanted to raise its international profile and attract a more diverse student body, particularly to its flagship degree courses.

Outputs included:

  • Identification of target markets over a four-year period
  • Recommended steps to gear up for international growth
  • A detailed one-year international marketing and recruitment action plan – both generic and country-specific
  • Resource requirements and indicative ROI
  • Appendices including detailed market data and other useful resources

Other recruitment projects

Other international student recruitment-related projects include:

  • Desk research to evaluate pathway provider and public-private partnership opportunities to boost a client university's recruitment pipeline
  • An international recruitment infrastructure review, involving 30 interviews with internal and external stakeholders, and review of data and documents. The resulting report supplied an analysis of current context, identified five broad areas for attention and provided clear recommendations for action.
  • A review (for a well-regarded modern English university) of proposed measures to enhance international marketing and student recruitment and, based on this review, development of an institution-wide action plan.
  • A UK Film School, a specialist postgraduate-only institution which has been described by the Observer newspaper as ‘the best film school in the world’, commissioned Vicky Lewis Consulting to develop a tailored plan to increase high-calibre international applications and enrolments – with a specific focus on two of its niche Masters programmes.

International marketing

Malaysia campus marketing and recruitment

University of Southampton Malaysia CampusJune 2013 – October 2013

Having enrolled the first students on its Malaysia campus in 2012, the University of Southampton engaged Vicky Lewis Consulting to provide a roadmap for growing student numbers over the coming years.

Outputs included:

  • An outline marketing strategy (including recommendations on organisational positioning, opportunities in Malaysia and the wider region, and programme development options);
  • Proposals for marketing, communications and student recruitment resourcing and infrastructure (Malaysia and UK-based);
  • An operational marketing and student recruitment activity plan.

If your institution is considering establishing an international campus, download this pdf Information Sheet which highlights the marketing questions you should be asking at key stages of the project.

Strategic international marketing plan

June 2018 - september 2018

A long-established German university required advice on appropriate marketing strategies to increase international student enrolments over the coming three years. This was provided in the form of a strategic international marketing plan. The plan covered overarching goals, product portfolio expansion, subject area focus, geographical market focus, building a foundation for growth, brand messaging and promotion.

International market development framework and action plan

january 2018 - april 2018

A specialist, online-only university college in the UK was highly reliant on a single international market and needed a strategy to broaden its international appeal. A new strategic approach and target market selection framework were developed.

Outputs included:

  • A contextual briefing paper
  • An international strategy framework including overarching principles, target market selection framework and market entry strategies
  • An action plan covering resourcing, planning and tactics

Target region: market development options analysis

July 2015 - september 2015

In support of its ambitious internationalisation strategy, the University of East Anglia appointed Vicky Lewis Consulting to gather and analyse internal and external intelligence in order to propose and evaluate options for developing the University’s profile and activities in a specific region of the world.

Outputs included:

  • A set of five-year goals, backed by a recommended approach to implementation and clarification of initial priorities
  • An evaluation of alternative operating models (including potential establishment of an in-country office)
  • A five-year roadmap for rolling out the recommended model
  • Indicative costs and returns

International partnerships and transnational education

International partnerships for global engagement

MAY 2022 - SEPTEMBER 2022

A large, specialist institution appointed Vicky Lewis Consulting to undertake a review of its international partnerships work, exploring how this would need to evolve to support its new institutional strategy.

The project involved extensive analysis of documents and data as well as direct engagement with key stakeholders (individually and in groups). The resulting comprehensive report included:

  • An evaluation of the institution's current partnership approach and activity
  • Clear recommendations for an international partnerships strategy positioned within a broader emerging strategy for global engagement
  • Concrete proposals for recalibrating the global engagement infrastructure (leadership, governance, operational functions, resources, guidelines and frameworks) to support delivery.

I presented key findings to Executive Board, stimulating a constructive discussion on next steps and leading to a green light for taking forward key recommendations.

Transnational education research (foundation programmes)

june 2016 - july 2016

A well-regarded pre-1992 university commissioned a market research and analysis project to evaluate options for the establishment of in-country foundation programmes in seven selected international markets, to act as pathways to home campus provision.

The report encompassed:

  • An analysis of home institution context
  • Overview of the TNE landscape and potential partnership models
  • Host market comparison and individual host market profiles
  • Key considerations (pre-requisites for success) and recommendations.

International partnerships process improvement

june 2020 - october 2020

A Russell Group university client was seeking to improve the processes around international partnership development and management. Following a stakeholder survey, a series of interviews and a review of documentation, it became evident that a clear, contextualising policy was required as well as guidelines for a new, streamlined process. Working on a virtual basis with an internal Task and Finish group, I produced a set of documentation which was endorsed and adopted by the university’s International Executive Group.

Outputs included:

  • New International Partnerships Policy
  • New International Partnership Process Guidelines
  • Implementation Plan to initiate and embed change
  • Supporting resource papers

Transnational education and marketing - workshop and report

November 2015 - December 2015

A modern university in Scotland invited me to present my research findings on transnational education (TNE) marketing to a group of key staff, lead a discussion-based workshop on the topic, then prepare a short report outlining recommended next steps.

Outputs included:

  • Insights for staff into recent original research on the embedding of marketing into international campus development
  • An opportunity to discuss the challenges and options around TNE marketing and ways to address these within the institution’s own specific context
  • A summary of recommended next steps tailored to the institution’s TNE and wider international marketing needs

Other partnership projects

Additional projects with a partnership dimension include:

  • Working with a prestigious institution to stimulate an Executive-level discussion about ethical partnership principles resulting in agreed next steps
  • Evaluating the continued involvement of a client university in a specific international network, outlining a number of options and recommending ways in which impact and return on investment could be optimised.
International mobility and exchange

Review of mobility and short courses infrastructure

september 2021 - october 2021

A Russell Group university asked Vicky Lewis Consulting to undertake a review of the infrastructure for international mobility and short courses, charting an approach which would align with the new institutional strategy. The report drew on external developments and good practice, as well as internal documents and staff interviews, to advocate a refreshed infrastructure.

Recommendations included:

  • A new strategic direction and priority areas of focus (including an income generation dimension)
  • Top-level structure and appropriate configuration of teams and sub-teams
  • Strategic aims, priorities and skillsets for each sub-team
  • Coordination of relationships with other functions across the university, including Faculties and academic departments.

International summer school audit and framework

july 2018 - november 2018

Following a competitive tender process, I was appointed by a London university to undertake an audit of their wide-ranging international summer school portfolio and to develop a framework for future developments in this area. This involved collecting feedback via a survey instrument and around 30 individual interviews.

Outputs included:

  • An audit of existing provision and a strategy for future developments
  • A taxonomy for international intensive courses and summer schools
  • Proposed five-stage framework for development, approval, delivery, evaluation, governance and tracking
  • Presentation of the findings to a cross-section of staff

Other mobility and exchange projects

In addition to the above examples, I undertook a global mobility and engagement review for a client university in 2022. This analysed the external and internal context for student mobility and exchanges and made recommendations regarding institutional strategy and priorities, leadership roles, resourcing, development of the portfolio of opportunities, enhancing processes and services, marketing and promotion.

Global employability

International employability good practice briefing

september 2020 - november 2020

A regular client institution asked me to provide a briefing on good practice in the area of international employability, with a particular focus on the national context and what other HEIs are putting in place to support international graduate outcomes. I also conducted a review of relevant sections of the university’s own website and provided recommendations for it to highlight more effectively this strand of activity.

Outputs included:

  • A report on the sector landscape, including links to useful resources and potential external partners
  • A summary of good practice in a number of areas (curricular and extra-curricular), including institutional case studies
  • Tailored recommendations based on a review of the university’s website, including some ‘quick wins’

Other global employability projects

In addition to the project outlined above, I was invited to co-deliver (with Lucy Butters) a workshop on 'Developing Cultural Intelligence to Enhance Global Employability' to a cross-section of staff at a modern university in 2016. Key themes from the workshop were summarised in a post-workshop report which included a 'next steps' action plan.

Other projects

Scholarships Portfolio Review

JUNE 2014 - SEPTEMBER 2014

The University of East Anglia appointed Vicky Lewis Consulting to review its extensive portfolio of scholarships (and other financial incentives and support). The objective was to develop a scholarships and awards portfolio which reinforces agreed strategic priorities in a clearly targeted, measurable and cost-effective manner.

Outputs included:

  • A set of research-informed guiding principles and financial targets
  • A new scholarships and awards framework proposal
  • A series of recommendations for implementing and promoting the new portfolio

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