Brazil Recession: The Impact on International Education

brazilThis year Brazil fell into a deep recession as the numbers continued to show more and more unfavorable evidence that the light at the end of the economic tunnel was dimming. As indicators continued to confirm that Brazil was in a recession, many people in international higher ed have been concerned about the impact on international students and exchange visitors coming to the US, especially as Brazil is the #6 sender of students to the US.

What Do The Numbers Say

Brazil is officially in a recession: the stock market is down 20% over last year, the economy contracted 1.9% in the second quarter compared to the first, investment in Brazil fell 12% in the second quarter compared to last year, unemployment hit 7.6% in August, Standard & Poor’s decided to downgrade Brazil’s economy to junk status, and on September 22nd the currency hit its lowest-ever value on record to 4.0665 reales per dollar. Combine this with the fact that Brazil’s main commodities – oil, sugar, and metal – have all fallen in price, and Petrobras – Brazil’s state-run oil company – is in a corruption scandal that has been linked to business and political leaders in the country. The bottom line: things are not looking good.

Translation into International Ed

This is especially bad news as Brazil is the second largest economy in the Western Hemisphere after the US and the seventh largest economy in the world. There are reasons to believe that with such a large economy linked to global markets that these troubles could eventually travel internationally as well. What had once been a Mecca of recruitment for schools and agents, it appears to be fizzling out – at least for now. This could be a blow to schools and agencies around the world, as there were 23,675 international students in the US in 2014-15, up staggeringly 78.2% over the year before. No one seems to be holding their breath that this growth will be sustained in years to come.

In the field of international education, colleges and programs are scratching their heads trying to make sense of this. According to a recent survey by BMI, 61% of agents are expecting fewer students to go abroad compared to 2014 – however 39% said they expected an increase. While the results of the study show a difference in opinion, that difference could rest on the notion that families have savings, and have already put aside money for their children to study overseas. This suggests instead, that the international education field may feel the true impact of the recession over the next few years and not immediately. Moreover, the types of programs that students are pursuing and the location of those programs will matter more than ever.

Shift in Programs

With less disposable income and a poor financial outlook on the economy, Brazilian families are going to have to think long and hard about what programs are worth investing in. According to Victor Hugo Basseggio, owner of CI, one of Brazil’s top agencies, “The sharpest impact has been on the confidence of our prospect students to spend their money.” Doing an English language program abroad may no longer make sense, especially when they can take language courses back home (with the added advantage of paying in reales). Instead, families may not send their child to a language course abroad and instead invest their money into a bachelor’s or graduate degree instead where the rewards seem greater and more tangible.

Scholarships Matter

Not only will programs be further scrutinized by families, but a greater importance will be placed on scholarships and other aid to help fuel student’s ability to afford their study abroad. Programs like the Science Without Borders (Ciência sem Fronteiras, or CsF) – a one-year, non-degree program for Brazilian college students in STEM majors – are going to be even more important if Brazil wants to continue to send a large number of students to the US and other countries. Not good news, though, considering that the pressure on public finances has suspended new scholarships in 2016. Schools will also play an important role, where they will be evaluating their diversity profile on campus, and determine whether aid should be extended to these students as well.

Location, Location, Location
In addition to these considerations, families will also be evaluating the location of their program. Mr. Basseggio went on to say, “Canada, Ireland, Malta, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia are all taking tremendous advantage of their weaker currencies and are therefore regaining the market share they once had. USA and UK are in for a bad spell of weather due to their overvalued currencies.” Families will be spending a lot of time comparing costs, and asking themselves:

  • What is the cost of living?
  • What is the exchange rate?
  • Will I be able to work in my host country during my studies?
  • Will I be able to work in my host country after I complete my studies?

Visa work restrictions during and after a student’s program will greatly influence the ultimate decision of if and where to go. These and other questions will impact the competitive advantage of countries to compete for these students.

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For-Profit Schools Turn to International as a way to Boost Falling Profits


As domestic enrollments decrease, increased government oversight and revenue falling, more for-profit schools turn to international as a way to boost falling profits.  Schools like DeVry, University of Phoenix, Walden University and others are targeting international students as a way to increase their revenue.

Take DeVry University as an example. They are not only recruiting international students to their campuses in the US, they are opening schools overseas.  The Wall Street Journal reported, “DeVry has cut costs, including workforce reductions and shedding some of its locations. DeVry also has been expanding its international presence, most recently with several acquisitions in Brazil.” DeVry’s additional expansion into Europe, Asia and the Caribbean has meant that while their overall revenue is down, their international revenue is up over 15%.

A quick visit to DeVry’s site will show you they are welcoming international students to their US campuses.  University of Phoenix on their site, tout their international admissions team.  According to their site, “When you talk to an international admissions representative at University of Phoenix, you’re working with someone who understands your country’s educational system, speaks your language and works in your time zone. Our international admissions representatives are trained to meet your needs, no matter where you live, or where you earned your high school diploma or undergraduate degree. They know the obstacles you face and can help you overcome them as you start your education.”  Walden, on their website says, “Thanks to our engaging online learning model, more than 47,800 students from more than 150 countries are learning online at Walden and benefiting from access to our diverse learning community.”

The for-profits already have very large marketing and advertising budgets and it is only natural to use a piece of that budget to reach, attract and recruit international students.  According to the Huffington Post, at one point in 2012 the Apollo Group, the owner of University of Phoenix was Google’s biggest spender, spending $170,000 per day on pay-per-click!  In the third quarter of 2015, revenue was down over $100 million over the third quarter of 2014.

With the continued decline of domestic enrollments, and falling revenue, it is natural to see the for-profits continue to invest in seeking out international students to fill their classrooms.

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Using the Envisage Global Insurance API – Part 1- Accessing the System

About Envisage Global Insurance

Envisage Global Insurance is a specialized international group insurance broker who has been providing international health and travel insurance plans for the cultural exchange and youth travel market for well over 10 years. Whether coverage is needed for a small group with 5 or more participants, or you would like to custom build your own insurance plan for thousands of members, EGI provides the tools to manage this quickly and effectively online. Group administrators can enroll and update members in real time with immediate availability of updated ID cards, as well as cancel enrollment or verify coverage on demand.

EGI Plan Admin Tool

About the Envisage Global Insurance API

The API is provided as a means of automating the basic administrative tasks for an EGI Plan Administrator by providing an interface between our clients’ systems and the online administrative tool. By integrating the API, group administrators can use their in-house software to manage enrollments directly.

This blog post is the first in a series designed to help EGI client systems establish their integration into the system.  For reference, full documentation of the API, including samples, can be found here:

The EGI API is primarily a RESTful one, but does require POST authentication for all requests. For that reason, we recommend building your requests via cURL All submitted information must be sent as key-value pairs via POST data while all responses are returned as JSON objects with success and status codes. Continue reading

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Are States Getting Creative with Affordability?

piggy bank

This year we’ve been keeping an eye on how states get creative with affordability. This was initially sparked by America’s College Promise Proposal: Two years of tuition-free community college for responsible students. Over the past few months we’ve seen a lot of action around this topic, let’s take a look what additional initiative states are taking to make a college education more accessible.

Looking first and primarily at what progress individual states have made, so far, we have seen two additional states alongside Tennessee’s free community college program (Tennessee’s Promise Program): Oregon (the Oregon Promise) and Minnesota (College Occupational Scholarship Pilot Program). Ten other states have also introduced legislation to create their own free community college programs.

In addition, thirty-two states currently offer performance based funding at either two-year institutions, four-year institutions, or both. These states include: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Items taken into consideration for funding allocation based upon performance include: course completion, time to degree, transfer rates, the number of degrees awarded, or the number of low-income and minority graduates. Five additional states (Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, South Dakota and Vermont) have been approved to offer performance funding, and are in the process of resolving program details. [1], [2]

Looking at President Obama’s overall proposal, although it would require a 10 year federal investment of $79.7 billion, according to the American Association of Community Colleges, there has been a lot of discussion and rallying behind it. In an effort to see movement, legislation in response to the proposal was introduced to both the Senate and House in July, however, Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs for ACE doesn’t expect a big push for this proposal just yet.

“The president’s plan hasn’t, so far, gotten much traction on Capitol Hill for several reasons. It’s estimated to cost $60 billion over five years, but reauthorization [of the Higher Education Act] has not gotten underway in either the House or Senate to any significant degree,” said Hartle. [3]

Despite the slow progress, the excitement and effort around America’s College Promise Proposal has continued to spread this past year.

“We still feel we’re still working on this,” said David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and research for AACC, adding that this is a priority of the administration and they do want people to feel optimistic about it, although the odds are long that an actual program will resemble the size of the $60 billion America’s College Promise initiative, he said. [4]

Additionally, this proposal has started to make waves within the political world when it comes to putting education back on the agenda; Hilary Clinton has recently revealed that she also has a plan for students who need assistance with college tuition. [5]

Throughout the past few months we have seen a number of states that at the very least have attempted to get creative with affordability, if not succeeded. Whether their proposals have been approved or not, the increase in states showing interest and initiative is a start that we can appreciate- and hope to see continue with a steady increase.

What are your thoughts on the current initiative and progress within your state?

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Google Tag Manager and Analytics – Tracking Web Events

This month I’m going to show you how to use Google’s Tag Manager and Analytics to track outbound link clicks and build reports to show the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Tag Manager is a powerful tool you can use to add a wide variety of tracking codes to your site without needing to involve a developer or webmaster. (other than the initial setup)

Tracking Linden Tours Clicks

We recently partnered with Linden Education Services, a company that organizes and holds student tours all over the world. Part of the deal with them is to drive traffic to their site from ours and we need to know how many people are clicking the links, where they’re from and how we acquired them. Just putting the links on the page is the easy part, tracking the clicks is harder. Using the Google Tag Manager makes the process easy and once you’ve done the work of adding the small amount of Javascript to the page, you can now add different types of code (Google calls them “tags”) to your site without needing to update the source or push anything to your production servers.

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Site Speed Improvements with OPcache and PageSpeed

If you’re running a fair-to-mid sized site with PHP code running the back-end, you’ve probably noticed the intense amount of activity that’s going on to serve a page to a visitor. PHP files get loaded from the hard drive by the process manager, compiled, run and then immediately thrown away for the next process in line. All of that takes time, which slows down our applications, which frustrates our visitors and they leave the site before finding the resource they needed.

If you’ve got RAM to spare you should think about mounting some of it as TMPFS and park the cache files there.
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SEO Success Factors

What’s more important to your SEO endeavors, is it the content, the layout of the page, the location and number of ads or something else? Maybe you’re only looking at the profile of your inbound links or focusing your energy on social media?

If you’re not looking at the big picture then you’re most likely doing your site a disservice and it’s time to expand your definition of SEO. One of the easiest to digest overviews of SEO success factors that I’ve come across is this one-page infographic from Search Engine Land:

Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

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Language Optimization

As a company that markets directly to international students, one of the biggest challenges we face is communicating to our visitors in their native language. We’ve spent a lot of time refining the process we use to optimize for multiple languages and here are some of the things we’ve learned along the way.

Our choice of back-end framework lets us quickly and efficiently add new languages and update existing ones. There are few different methods for presenting translated content. The first, and most rudimentary, is to simply create a sub-directory for the language that you are translating for (example /espanol/) and then have someone translate the content on the pages. Simple, effective and works for a content that never changes. What happens when you have a site that has constant updates to the content? We opted for a more sophisticated approach and use the power of the framework to automatically replaced strings on the page with values stored on the back-end.

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International Student Traffic Up 220%

international-student-google-analytics traffic’s traffic is continuing its upward climb (knock on wood). 2015 year-to-date organic traffic is 220% higher than the same period last year. What have we done to earn this sort of tremendous growth? Are we smart or just lucky, or maybe a little of both? In this post, we will take a look at some of the challenges we’ve faced, and the strategies we’ve employed that have brought us to where we are today.


Every website out there has ups and downs in traffic, and is no exception. In 2014, we experienced one of the bigger dips in organic traffic that we’ve seen in the 15+ year history of our site. This led to much soul searching and a deep analysis of our site and our visitors.

Google, being the dominant search engine of the day, sends more traffic to more sites than all other search engines combined. So how do you rank well in Google? That’s the billion dollar question. An entire industry has evolved around this question, and if you asked 10 people, you would probably get 10 different answers.
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How to Market your School on



Envisage International is hosting a free Webinar on how to market you school on  The live Webinar is Thursday, January 22nd at 2:00 EST.  The recorded Webinar will also be available on our corporate site.

During this Webinar on how to market your school on we will talk about the different opportunities to gain exposure for your college or univeristy on the site and through the International Student Network, including social media, email marketing, inquiry generation, Google Hangouts and more. We will cover pricing, packaging and success stories of other schools.

At the core of our marketing efforts, your school’s profile would be upgraded to an enhanced profile.  The enhanced profiles include your school logo, pictures, videos, social media feeds, student profiles, program descriptions and other relevant information.  We would also integrate your school into the USA School Search on the site, so that your school would be found when students are searching for programs that you offer.  Depending upon your the amount of exposure and student inquiries that you would like to have, we can then add in email, banners, social media, email and newsletter marketing.

To learn more about how to market your school on, join our free webinar.

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