International Education Market Research

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Recently there have been articles about international students’ motivations and well-being on their journey of discovery through international education, a significant industry.

Such articles are relevant in that they do not criticise or dog whistle international students by describing them as ‘immigrants’ or suggesting they purposely short visa and immigration systems for long term or permanent residency.

In addition to reflecting increased international mobility and prosperity in developing nations, such insights should be imperative for all service-based marketing, especially digital carrying word of mouth or WOM.

Word of mouth is the most influential marketing channel as it is based upon experience of friends, family and peers with a product or service, the most trusted channel.

The message for marketers in any industry, especially services, is never make assumptions or rely upon headline or indirect data, but your customers too.  Marketing brand, reputation etc. requires constant feedback, monitoring of well-being and word of mouth while leveraging the same authentic feedback via social media, couched within a digital marketing strategy.

 

What we know about why Chinese students come to Australia to study

Hannah Song in The Conversation:

In 2016-17 Australia’s third largest export, international education, leapt from A$23.6 billion to a record high of A$28 billion. Within the higher education sector, the highest intake of international students is of Chinese origin.

Behind these statistics are the individual stories and aspirations of Chinese students’ parents who provide them the financial resources and emotional support. Yet, we know so little about why it matters so much to their parents, and what long-term impacts overseas study has on them and their families when they return home…

….Focusing on a shifting landscape of education in Shanghai, I undertook a longitudinal pilot case-study of four bilingual kindergarten-secondary schools to investigate the aspirations Chinese middle-class parents have for their children’s education.

….If Australia is to remain a destination for world-class education, we need to be far more self-reflective and long-sighted about what Australian international education offers: global citizenship and transnational mobility. We need to listen to the voices of an increasing middle-class in China.’

Student journey through international education

International Students (Image copyright Pexels)

‘’It’s stressful being an other’: The mental health woes of international students

Emily Baker in The Conversation:

Moving to Australia has, in Daniel Kang’s words, been a mix of challenges and little blessings. The Australian National University student has found room to breathe and develop. Walks through the abundant bush help clear his head. Generally, the experience has exceeded his expectations.

But moving from Singapore to Canberra has also carried difficulties. It can be stressful being an “other”, he said. The 22-year-old has at times been very lonely…

The most recent student experience survey from the federal government’s Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching found undergraduate international students rated their experience at Australian universities 75 out of 100 per cent – slightly below the 79 per cent awarded by domestic students.

But separately, many international students report stress. They report social isolation. The very fact of being an international student in Australia – the experience of being alone in a new country, subject to financial pressures, navigating a new culture, and adjusting to a new academic system – is considered to make an individual at greater risk of mental ill-health.’

 

Any institution, business or organisation that neglects its existing customers to inform quality and marketing strategy development, maybe asking for trouble while relying upon PR and sales?

In the case of international education the most valuable resources are accessible onshore and on campus, i.e. enrolled students and their networks.

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TAE40116 Certificate IV Training Assessment Package – ASQA Review Submission

Submission for TAE40116 Training Package Review

 

Written by Andrew Smith; submitted 3 April 2018

Introduction

There has been much discussion amongst training practitioners about the updated TAE Training Package.  One of the main issues has been the perception that it has been designed for quality administration and assessment while neglecting quality of actual training delivery and learning.

ASQA Australian Skills Quality Authority Certificate IV Training and Assessment TAE40116 Review

TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment – ASQA Review (Image copyright ASQA)

This has been experienced by the writer currently upgrading BSZ to TAE via a registered training organisation (RTO) by distance learning; PO Box with ‘assessors’ and ‘trainers’ based offshore.  Further, the delivery is based upon basic pedagogy of presentation of content, regurgitation of content according to instructions while seemingly unable to offer explanations or insight for trainees, especially delivery and learning skills based upon andragogy.

 

What is the TAE Training Package?

 

Description

 

This qualification reflects the roles of individuals delivering training and assessment services in the vocational education and training (VET) sector.

This qualification (or the skill sets derived from units of competency within it) is also suitable preparation for those engaged in the delivery of training and assessment of competence in a workplace context, as a component of a structured VET program.

The volume of learning of a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment is typically six months to two years. (Department of Education & Training 2018).

At face value the TAE40116 appears to be a relevant and practical qualification for vocational education and training to deliver accredited training packages, assure quality with a focus upon assessment.  However, there have been many criticisms of the package from practitioners, industry and other stakeholders, why?

Issues with TAE Training Package and Delivery

 

According to the Resources Training Council

 

It has become a qualification for the training industry, not industry that trains. They do not understand workplaces where training and more importantly the outcomes (assessment) must be fit for purpose to achieve what VET is all about.  VET should be about producing safe, proficient (productive) workers and providing an opportunity for learning to be built on as people move along their chosen career path (Munro 2017).

 

From an experienced VET training practitioner

 

To improve assessment practices of RTOs and improve skills and knowledge of trainers and assessors we need to:

  • Update our regulatory framework and move to a real outcome-based regulation, where relevant industry stakeholders have a say in the registration/re-registration process
  • Support the National Regulator in building the required capabilities to assess compliance in a diverse and complex environment
  • Ensure the National Regulator provides an even-playing-field to RTOs
  • Identify the different issues within the assessment system, and consequently identify gaps in current workforce skills (in all AQF levels not only entry level) and update the TAE training package accordingly (Castillo 2016).

 

Research criticisms have included: one size fits all approach whether novice trainer or an already well experienced and/or qualified trainer or teacher, trainer assessor expertise or skills, questions over subsequent assessment outcomes, lack of depth related to training and learning delivery, no clear development pathway and the skill outcomes from the TAE for practitioners to deliver (Clayton 2009).

The focus of criticism has been directed at sub-optimal education and training pedagogy (learning theory for children and young adults or novices) of both the TAE and practitioners for quality delivery, learning and trainee assessment outcomes.  These revolved round, preparedness of trainers to train, opportunity to learn content knowledge, delivery quality, learning the practice of good teaching or training, learning from experts, then more about planning and assessment (Ibid.)

The latter issue of assessment has been raised within sectors whether validation between providers, or simply better understanding of assessment by practitioners (Halliday-Wynes & Misko 2013)

Further, expert input often hints at what is lacking by focusing upon learning theory or ‘pedagogy’ for children and youth, as opposed to ‘andragogy’ for youth and adults.  The latter would be exemplified by self-directed learning or training, responsibility, experience, motivation to learn and preference for real tasks and problem solving (Educators’ Technology 2013); supported by well skilled trainers.

 

Training Delivery and Learning Quality

 

However, delivery of some TAEs has more to do with education and training or ‘pedagogy’ influence from two generations ago manifested in trainer or teacher directed, or top down.  This assumes trainees have no relevant knowledge or practical input to offer, focus upon systems, processes and assessment round any given package, but not delivery i.e. developing quality training and learning skills.  Additionally, very content driven for good reason, however, it is presented or instructed (not elicited) then regurgitated or replicated for satisfying requirements for assessment, then assumed optimal for the workplace?

The significant size of the VET sector requires standard packages, systems, processes and assessment to be compliant and manageable.  However, the risk is that system quality may be based upon indirect top down paper-based systems and processes of (quality) compliance that are reactive when issues emerge, if discovered.  For example, sub-optimal training and learning, versus proactive measures through more intrusive evaluation of actual training delivery quality or bottom up informing.

Quality maybe improved by intrusive quality assessment through mystery shopping on any given TAE course, dynamic (publicised opportunities) for feedback from trainees and clients, evaluation of specific programs and trainers or evidence of dynamic quality evaluation of skills versus merely possessing a TAE qualification or ‘ticket’.

 

References:

 

Castillo, A 2016, Newly endorsed Certificate IV in Training and Assessment – Same Issues, LinkedIn Pulse, viewed 22 March 2018, < https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/newly-endorsed-certificate-iv-training-assessment-amaro-castillo/ >

 

Clayton, B 2009, Practitioner experiences and expectations with the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAA40104): A discussion of the issues, NCVER Melbourne, viewed 22 March 2018, < https://www.ncver.edu.au/__data/assets/file/0023/4658/nr08504r.pdf >

 

Department of Education & Training 2018, MySkills: Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, viewed 22 March 2018, < https://www.myskills.gov.au/courses/details?Code=TAE40116 >

 

Educators’ Technology 2013, AWESOME CHART ON “PEDAGOGY VS ANDRAGOGY”, viewed 1 April 2018, < http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/05/awesome-chart-on-pedagogy-vs-andragogy.html >

 

Halliday-Wynes, S & Misko, J 2013, Assessment issues in VET: minimising the level of risk, NCVER, viewed 22 March 2018, < http://www.cmd.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0015/801600/AssessmentIssuesInVET_MinimisingTheLevelOfRisk.pdf >

 

Munro, J 2017, The TAE debacle – a resources sector view, Resources Training Council, viewed 31 January 2018, < http://www.resourcestraining.org.au/news/the-tae-debacle/ >

Focus Group Research then Survey for Digital e-Marketing Strategy Development

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Digital or e-Marketing Research for Strategy Development

 

Conducting Qualitative and Quantitative Feedback – Focus Respondent Interviews for Survey Instrument Development

 

Following outlines steps in applying research techniques for marketing using a MBA cohort of professionals of diverse backgrounds mostly based in Europe.

Limited interviews, both face to face and email based, were conducted with selected former students and industry stakeholders for experiential feedback to ascertain or confirm important factors.  After analysis of feedback, this led onto the development of a simple survey instrument with the factors or clusters of elicited, making up dimensions or phases (Saunders et al., 2009).  One could then measure or relate the importance of each factor in the information search amongst a related population or student cohort, then drawing inferences, but neither correlations nor causal relationships.

 

While optimal language and communication skills are important for questionnaires, there must be a process of researching, identifying and forming the questions to be included in a survey, that leads to valid and reliable data for analysis; one cannot go back after collecting survey data.

 

Ordinal Likert scales can be used to assess the strength of perceptions on relevant factors, on a three, five or seven-point range and can indicate order e.g. not very important through neutral to very important.  Ideally scales are applied to many factors or questions leading to inference of a construct explaining the research focus.  In this study, simply assessing relevance of each factor grouped as phases or dimensions for inclusion e.g. if deemed to be important or very important by students (Bell, 2005).

 

While the quantitative data collection or survey was a ‘probability sample’ or ‘representative sampling’ i.e. all from the same online MBA cohort, to allow inferences to be made about the population, the ‘Focus Respondents’ informing the survey development represented ‘non-probability’ sampling for convenience or streamlining.

 

By accessing ‘Focus Respondents’ and gaining input from potential population, also including informed input from industry personnel, industry and scholastic research; a valid survey instrument could be developed (Saunders at al., 2009).

 

The sample population of university students surveyed represent the population’s ‘information seeking’ behaviour, through collecting quantitative data from this representative sample of enrolled European University students in online MBA program.

 

Ideally this could have been expanded further amongst other sample populations for comparison and cross tabulation, but the scope of this study precluded inclusion, however actual colleges, public organisations and SME business workplaces can replicate the process.

 

Reference List:

 

Bell, J. (2005) Doing Your Research Project. (4th Ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

 

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2009) Research Methods for Business Students. (5th Ed.) Harlow UK: Pearson Education Ltd.

 

 

Changes in Digital Behaviour – International Education Marketing

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Advances and Changes in Digital Behaviour

for

Digital or e-Marketing Communications

 

Digital technology and education related publishing companies have researched youth markets well to understand their target market and confirm previous industry research around digital behaviour of millennials (plus generations X and Y).

 

Student Decision Making

 

Student decision making is a process over time including decisions based on information about course, country then institution, fees, satisfaction, graduate outcomes, destination marketing, security and up to date websites.  Accordingly, student engagement through social media SM is important, and students need to be tracked and supported in discovery process through to application and ongoing feedback and analysis (Hobsons, 2014).

Further, according to stakeholders in the SM space, youth including diverse sub-sets is engaged and online whether social media or via mobile, requiring optimism and personality in communications.  (FacebookIQ, 2014).  Due to this changing technology environment and human computer interaction (HCI), millennials now conduct their ‘information seeking’ differently from the past (Scanlon, 2006).

 

Market Research of Youth, Social Media and Word of Mouth

 

Market research concurred with other industry-based reporting, i.e. showed increased use of SM by both consumers and businesses, with former using online for information search and post purchase review (Sensis, 2016). Related, another consumer report cited the need for leveraging of word of mouth WOM and ‘Consumer-Generated Media’ (CGM), suggesting bottom-up strategy has become more important than top down according to advertisers or commissioners (Nielsen, 2009).

 

Application to International Education Marketing

 

Additionally, much of the above has been confirmed by other industry research in international education highlighting the need for new ways of doing things. For example, identifying broader ROI KPIs, student led marketing content, mobile focus, skilled human resources and becoming more integrated with agents or distributors including assistance with cooperative digital strategy (Educations Media Group, 2017).

 

Another viewpoint from international education industry research came up with ‘Myths Busted’, including: admissions is no longer the most important source of information, rankings not so relevant, but SM, mobile and web search are central, Facebook is declining in importance with teens, and institutions must understand the nuances of their target market (Rogers & Stoner, 2015).

 

Finally, important for institutions to match students’ decision-making and discovery process to have multiple information sources, WOM, peer reviews, course, student body, employment outcomes and warn that sub-optimal university websites and social media can turn prospective candidates away (Karzunina et al., 2016).

 

The question nowadays should be how does an institution or any business develop, implement and maintain and informed digital or e-marketing strategy according to their clients or customers?

 

Reference List:

 

Educations Media Group (2017) International Higher Education Report: Marketing + Recruitment Trends. Available at: https://www.educations.com/file/1055/download (Accessed on: 23/04/2017).

 

FacebookIQ (2014) Coming of Age on Screens: An in-depth look at teens and young adults around the world. Available at: https://fbinsights.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/comingofageonscreens_whitepaper_120814.pdf (Accessed 03/01/2017).

 

Hobsons (2014) Beyond the Data: Influencing international student decision making.  Available at: http://www.hobsons.com/emea (Accessed: 3/1/2017).

 

Karzunina, D., Bridgestock L. & Philippou, G (2016) What Matters to International Students: Global Overview. Available at: http://www.qsdigitalsolutions.com/resources/what-matters-to-international-student-global-overview/ (Accessed 03/01/2017).

 

Nielsen (2009) Nielsen – Global Online Consumer Survey. Available at: http://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/corporate/us/en/newswire/uploads/2009/07/pr_global-study_07709.pdf (Accessed on 07/05/2017).

 

Rogers, G. & Stoner, M. (2015) Mythbusting Admissions: Where Prospects and Professionals Agree – and Disagree – on Enrollment, Marketing, Messages and Channels. Chegg Enrollment Services. Available at: https://www.uaf.edu/files/provost/MythbustingAdmissions.pdf (Accessed on 23/04/2017).

 

Scanlon, M. (2006) Information-Seeking Behaviour of Millennials.  SLA Annual Conference.  Available at:  http://sla-divisions.typepad.com/dam_blog/files/Information-Seeking_BehaviorofMillennials.pdf (Accessed on: 23/04/2107).

 

Sensis (2016) Sensis Social Media Report 2016. Available at:  https://www.sensis.com.au/asset/PDFdirectory/Sensis_Social_Media_Report_2016.PDF (Accessed on: 23/04/2017).

 

International Education Marketing – 4P Products 7P Services and Word of Mouth

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4Ps for Products to the 7Ps for Services

and WOM Word of Mouth

 

While many focus upon the promotional aspect of the 4Ps model of ‘product, price, place and promotion’, research has emphasised that education marketing must use ‘7Ps’, not just ‘4 or 5Ps’.  This would also include people, facilities and processes, thus broadening any analysis and perceptions of the market (Ivy, 2008).

Further, the ‘7Ps’ model was developed to account for differences in service industries versus sub-optimal ‘4Ps’ model for physical goods (Rafiq & Ahmed, 1995).  The ‘People’ and ‘Process’ are very relevant for this research, as they focus upon need to communicate openly with target market through skilled personnel, while viewing marketing, communication and sales as a process, not an instantaneous purchasing event e.g. buying a consumer product or staple (Acutt, 2015).

 

There have been criticisms of this ‘7Ps’ model as being out of date, highlighting the need for new conceptual foundations and marketing methodologies representing today and tomorrow’s world (Konstantinides, 2010).  With e-marketing, digital or internet-based marketing coming to the fore, there needs to be more analysis of consumer behaviour regarding brand experience, information search, brand familiarity and customer satisfaction, both rational and emotional (Ha & Perks, 2005).

 

More recent research suggests that the ‘complex’ student decision making process is viewed as rational economic action when in fact much is emotional and relies upon peers, influencers and related WOM to assess overall or general quality, plus more practical concerns such as immigration and visa (Nedbalová et al, 2014).  How does a student or family access WOM based information and advice from peers and influencers leading to a study decision, possibly through student feedback and analysis?

 

Why is WOM Word of Mouth Important?

 

WOM is important in all communications, and for consumers to participate in social learning through WOM communication, the preference for many if not most (Campbell, 2013).  WOM is related intimately with personal and cultural factors, with informal accepted as a significant communication channel of influence (Kotler & Keller, 2012).

 

Social networks and WOM rely upon users and friends’ reviews and comments, plus helping to generate positive and negative WOM, with ‘trust’ being very important (Barreda et al., 2015).  WOM is also an essential element of digital or e-Marketing and SM, if not the most important, with a need to encourage interactivity and engagement amongst the target market about a product (Whitler, 2014).

 

WOM can now be carried further by social media, be leveraged for better marketing and communications, and it cannot be ignored, especially if negative.  WOM carried digitally across borders amongst friends who may be informed significantly by personal or national culture considerations, whether differences or similarities.

 

Therefore, logically consideration may need to be given to cultural dimensions of marketing and impacts on strategy, differences or similarities? This will lead onto investigation of cultural dimensions and e-Consumer Behaviour – What do they do?

 

Reference List:

 

Acutt, M. (2015) The Marketing Mix 4P’s and 7P’s Explained.  Available at: http://marketingmix.co.uk/ (Accessed on: 17 May 2017).

 

Barreda, A. A., Bilgihan, A., & Kageyama, Y. (2015). The role of trust in creating positive word of mouth and behavioral intentions: The case of online social networks. Journal of Relationship Marketing, 14(1), 16-36.

 

Campbell A. (2013) ‘Word-of-Mouth Communication and Percolation in Social Networks’. The American Economic Review. 103(6) pp. 2466-2498 Published by: American Economic Association. Available at: https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.103.6.2466 (Accessed on: 16/12/2016).

 

Ha, H. & Perks, H. (2005) ‘Effects of consumer perceptions of brand experience on the web: Brand familiarity, satisfaction and brand trust’. Journal of Consumer Behaviour. 4(6) pp. 438–452.  Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cb.29/abstract (Accessed on: 18/11/2016).

 

Ivy J. (2008) ‘A new higher education marketing mix: the 7Ps for MBA marketing’. International Journal of Educational Management. 22(4) pp. 288 – 299 Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513540810875635 (Accessed: 18/11/2016).

 

Konstantinides, E. (2006) ‘The Marketing Mix Revisited: Towards the 21st Century Marketing’.  Journal of Marketing Management. 22(3-4) pp. 407-438. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/1 0.1 362/026725706776861 190 (Accessed: 16/12/2016).

 

Kotler, P. & Keller, K. (2012) Marketing Management. (14th Ed.) Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education – Prentice Hall.

 

Nedbalová E., Greenacre L. & Schulz J (2014) ‘UK higher education viewed through the marketization and marketing lenses’. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education. 24(2) pp. 178-195. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08841241.2014.973472  (Accessed on: 21/12/2016).

 

Rafiq, M. & Ahmed, P. (1995) ‘Using the 7Ps as a generic marketing mix: an exploratory survey of UK and European marketing academics’. Marketing Intelligence & Planning. 13(9) pp. 4-15.

 

Whitler, K. (2014) Why word of mouth marketing is the most important social media.  Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kimberlywhitler/2014/07/17/why-word-of-mouth-marketing-is-the-most-important-social-media/#2f76616d54a8 (Accessed: 10/05/2017).