How Education Providers Can Launch Into New International Markets

Joshua Stoneham
June 22, 2023

Growing into new international markets can be an exciting and rewarding endeavour for education providers. But what are the challenges that come with it, and how can providers properly prepare for an international expansion?

In this article, we’ll go through some of the key considerations for providers and share insight into how Candlefox has successfully broken into new markets worldwide.

Understand the market

Before launching services in a new country or region, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of that area. Although learning and education delivery can share similarities in many different markets, it’s important to know any key differences that would require you to alter strategies that have worked domestically. 

Research local job markets and popular sectors

Although almost every country on Earth aims to provide decent learning opportunities across all areas, often, there can be shortfalls in education that lead to skill gaps opening up within an economy. 

For example, recent data shows that workers in the British Isles and Oceania are suffering from poor numeracy skills. This opens up the risk of labour shortfalls in sectors that require employees to have an advanced maths skill set. 

With this example in mind, education providers could use data like this to find opportunities and obstacles they might face. As an example, providers who offer numeracy courses may have to adapt their domestic strategies to focus more on generating greater student urgency. This is because they are trying to attract local students in a market where they are less motivated to become qualified in maths.

Elsewhere, assessing strengths within an education market can also allow providers to understand how they might fit into a region’s landscape. If a market is already highly receptive to subjects you offer, but you still face competition from many local providers, you may need to spend more time assessing how you can stand out in a crowded field.

Market your brand to reflect local needs

Education can be an incredible problem-solver for both nations as a whole and for individual learners. It can be used as a tool to improve job opportunities, deliver more fulfilling work, and increase pay packets. 

When launching in a new market, it’s good to understand how the local population views education and its ability to improve citizens’ everyday lives. For example, as inflation and the cost of living hits employees’ spending power, citizens in the UK have increasingly looked to education as a way to improve their chances of a lucrative promotion or career move. 

Exploring this example demonstrates that, despite already being a highly educated nation, British citizens are willing to invest more in education to help them navigate turbulent economic periods, making them more receptive to taking on educational opportunities long term. 

Looking at typical trends of a market’s learner base can also allow you to market yourself effectively as a problem solver for the citizens of a particular country. 

For example, some markets may have little faith in local education institutions or may not be able to afford local higher education paths and may be more receptive to budget-friendly short courses. Meanwhile, other markets may already feature highly educated learners that are seeking out in-depth, long-term courses, comfortable in the knowledge that it’ll open up job opportunities for them that will more than repay the investment they’ve made. 

Based on in-depth research, you can apply tried and tested marketing strategies, such as creating personas to refer to when establishing a marketing strategy or coming up with a sales plan that is highly localised to your target market.

The variable nature of different education markets means that knowing how to properly market yourself and connect with local learners is a valuable asset and one that can allow you to break into a new market and have an immediate impact.

Leverage your reputation

When launching in a new market abroad, it can be good to understand how education providers within your current country are perceived internationally. Providers that come from a country with a strong reputation for excellence in education can leverage this when entering new markets. 

When looking at the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2023, the UK had universities in positions one and three, with seven others ranking within the top 100. The US had universities scattered across the top 10, with Harvard in second place and Stanford joint third, and took up around a third of total spots in the top 100. Countries such as Switzerland, Germany, Australia and China also had high-ranking spots, despite not ranking in the top 10. 

Of course, providers cannot solely rely on the reputation of education quality within their country. However, when entering a new country to compete with local providers, coming from a highly respected market can allow you to stand out from the crowd.

Recently, Deakin University in Australia put this theory into practice by launching the first foreign tertiary education institution in India by establishing a campus in the southern Asian country. Australia is a highly popular destination for Indian students, in part thanks to its strong reputation as an education hub in the Asia-Pacific region. 

By leveraging this reputation to enter into a new market and compete with local providers, Deakin University demonstrated to other providers the exciting potential for success foreign providers can have in non-domestic markets.

Candlefox – an international success story

Since beginning as a course comparison site in Australia in 2011, Candlefox has launched multiple sites in New Zealand, the UK, and most recently, the Republic of Ireland. 

By establishing partnerships with well-known educational institutions in each respective market, Candlefox has helped connect thousands of international learners with in-demand courses. 

Following a tried-and-tested formula, Candlefox has been able to replicate the success first seen in Australia in nearby regions like New Zealand whilst also embarking on markets further afield in Europe. 

By establishing a presence in two of the biggest education markets in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as getting a foothold in the UK, one of the most significant educational markets in Europe, Candlefox has reaped the benefits of a globally-focused strategy. Best of all, by expanding into the EU via the Republic of Ireland, Candlefox sites can now be used by over 700 million EU learners who wish to access Irish courses. 

Course comparison sites such as Candlefox demonstrate the power of an internationally-focused mindset, and are an excellent template for education providers who wish to expand their brand beyond their shores and connect with learners around the world.

Expanding into a new international market can be a great way to attract new learners and find new opportunities to connect with users. Universities and education providers can access millions of new learners through a well-thought-out expansion strategy. 

Looking to other providers and course comparison sites that have broken into new markets successfully is a great way to begin your expansion strategy. By leveraging the reputation of learning in your country or your reputation as a course provider, you can significantly increase the number of learners and students who want to begin their education journey with you. 

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Joshua Stoneham
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