Back to Malmö….for 36 hours

Right now I am on the plane from Kiev back to Copenhagen. This morning we had a very informative meeting at the Swedish Embassy in Kiev. It was interesting to hear that the Embassy in the Ukraine does a lot to promote Sweden and Swedish Higher Education in particular. We were happy to hear that the Embassy is willing to support us next time we visit Ukraine. It would be especially interesting to involve a few more Swedish institutions (and maybe even companies) in promotion activities in Ukraine. Next time we will for sure invest more time in exploring possibilities in the second largest city, Donetsk.
I left the Ukraine very satisfied, both professionally and personally. We gathered a lot of information about the student market (motives, interest, mobility obstacles, etc.) and started a network with agencies and the Swedish Embassy. We also spoke to a number of universities that are interested in cooperation with Malmö University. For successful recruitment of students from Ukraine, partnerships are crucial. So I do hope that this visit will lead to more than just applications for our programmes and courses. On top of this, for me personally, it was great to meet a lot of new people from all over the world and understand Ukrainian culture a little bit better. I absolutely like Ukraine and look forward to going back at some point!
Whenever I travel to other countries outside the EU for recruitment purposes, it’s always confronting to see the differences between rich and poor. And the differences can be seen everywhere, no matter if it’s India, China, Russia or Ukraine. In Ukraine for example, still 25% of the population lives under the poverty line. Due to the limited resources for scholarships (from both the government and Swedish businesses), we mainly focus on students that can finance their studies themselves. This might sound unfair, because these students are not per definition the most talented students. However, these students will be able to further develop their motherland once they have finished their education. Indirectly these educated students can help their countries to fight poverty. This is what really motivates me in my work as a marketer/recruiter! It’s up to all of us to give these students the tools that they need once they decide to go back home.
I am now looking forward for two nights of sleep in my own bed. Then it’s off to Ottawa.

Education fair and agent visits

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.

International Marketing and Recruitment in Canada and Ukraine

Informing students about study possibilities in Malmö

Certificate for participation
Katya and me at the Education Fair in Kiev

My name is Roger Senden. I work at the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, where my main task is to set up international marketing and recruitment for Malmö University. I started working for Malmö University in spring 2010. I am from the Netherlands and that’s also the reason why I write my blog in English.

Since tuition fees have been introduced this year, the interest in Sweden as a study destination has dramatically dropped. Last year the leadership of the university decided to work on international marketing and recruitment in order to make sure that an international class room can be maintained.
In June 2010, 7 target countries have been set for active marketing and recruitment: Bulgaria, China Germany, India, Poland, Romania, and Russia. This year one more country has been added: Ukraine. The main reasons to add Ukraine as a target country are the interest in Malmö University’s programmes this year (10% of the fee-paying students is Ukrainian) and the easy access to the Ukrainian student market.
Every country needs a different approach. In some countries education fairs have a lot of impact (e.g. Romania and Bulgaria). In other countries working with educational consultants (agents) is crucial, e.g. in India and China. But in all countries we try to use several tools (incl. web) in order to recruit students.
Currently I am on my way to Kiev and Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, together with Katherina Korsun. She is one of our Ukrainian Master’s students (Global Political Studies). This trip to Ukraine has three main goals. One is to participate in an education fair in Kiev for three days, with an expected 10-15.000 visitors. During the trip we will also meet with three agents to discuss a possible cooperation. Finally this trip is important to get a better understanding of the student market in Ukraine. We will for example also visit the Swedish Embassy in Ukraine.
After this 6 day visit to Ukraine I will continue my journey to Canada. This journey has a complete different reason. Malmö University is a member of Study Destination Sweden. This is a cooperation of Swedish universities that aims to share knowledge and experiences and wants to develop a strategy to promote Sweden jointly as a study destination. In Canada universities have been working together through what is called EduCanada. They have been successful in branding the country as a study destination. Study Destination Sweden wants to learn from their experiences. That’s why I have been invited to represent the project, together with colleagues from the Swedish Institute, West University and the Stockholm School of Economics. Besides the main office of EduCanada in Ottawa, we will visit McGill University (Montreal), Bishop’s University (Quebec), University of Western Ontario (London), Ryerson University (Toronto), and CMEC, which is the counsel of Education Ministers in Canada. Most likely I will also visit York University, which is (as Ryerson University) on of Malmö’s partner universities.
During the next three weeks I will try to give you a better idea of the work that me and my colleagues do when we are abroad.