It’s Monday evening and I just got back in Kiev from a agent visit to Dnipropetrovsk, the third largest city of Ukraine (>1 milion inhabitants). Tomorrow morning there is still one visit left, which is a visit to the Swedish Embassy in Kiev.
The visit to Ukraine started with printing promotion materials to be distributed at an education fair. Normally we would send promotion materials from Sweden to the education fair. However, from the packages that I sent to Ukraine in the last four years, not a single package has arrived in time. So that’s why we decided to print some materials locally. The same day we also visited one of our agents (Students International). We already work with this agency in Russia, but they also have an office in Kiev. We gave a brief presentation of who we are and what we have to offer. It was also a great opportunity to receive feedback from an agency. They know the student market very well. Conclusion: Swedish universities (and Malmö University in particular) have lots of work to be done. There are still quite a number of competitive disadvantages compared to e.g. UK, USA and the Netherlands. For example, Ukrainian students who want to pursue a bachelor’s programme abroad, want to do that right after they finish their secondary school. However, since Swedish universities do not offer conditional admission, they will not be able to enrol in Sweden in the same year. Another important factor has to do with migration policiy. In several countries students are allowed to stay a bit longer after their studies in order to find a job (‘search period’). Unfortunately Sweden currently does not offer this possibility.
From Thursday to Saturday we participated in the Education Abroad Fair in Kiev. We spoke to approximately 150 students and their parents. Most of the interested students spoke English, however, most parents did not. So it was really helpfull that Katharina could answer question in Russian. Many students were interested in programmes that are not offered by Malmö University. So we did some good work for especially Jönköping Business School, Lund University, Stockholm School of Economics, Mälardalen University and Dalarna University. We completely ran out of ‘Study in Sweden’ business cards. Quite a large number of students was especially interested in scholarship possibilities. The most popular programmes were Leadership for Sustainability, Sustainable Urban Management and Global Political Studies. There was also quite some interest in Malmö’s bachelor’s programmes, especially International Relations.
Participation in the fair gave us a good first impression of the Ukrainian student market and probably a small number of students will even apply for one of our programmes. Another interesting fact was that EduCanada (the agency in Canada that I will visit on Friday) was present at the fair too, together with a number of colleges. It was really interesting to talk to the representatives from the Canadian Embassy and hear what they do in Ukraine to promote Canada as a study destination. It would be great if Swedish Embassies could take such initiatives as well!
Today I visited two agents that we do not cooperate with yet. One in Kiev (DEC Education) and one in Dnipropetrovsk (TM-Educational Group). Both visits were very fruitfull and soon we will discuss possibilities for further cooperation. Again we discussed the opportunities for students to study in Malmö, but we also paid attention to the limitations of e.g. our offerings and admission procedures. Great feedback to be discussed with stakeholders in our university.
I look back at a fruitful trip, with lots of new knowledge about an interesting student market. Besides that it was absolutely great to be accompanied by Katharina. She is a perfect ambassador for our university and and excellent guide in a city that is almost 10 times as large as Malmö! She introduced me to Ukrainian history and culture and took me to places where we had delicious traditional Ukrainian food. Tomorrow back to Malmö, just to do my laundry and move on to Canada.