I read with interest StephenFerst’s post about his 18 NAFSA Annual Conferences, his experiences and the changes he’s seen. He mentions the increase in sophistication of the industry, and I have to agree -the increase in the sophistication of the business of international education in the past decade, since the launch of Envisage International, has been remarkable. Here are a few examples of this trend in the areas that I have a lot of exposure to:
1. Sophistication of International Student Recruiting and Marketing Providers
As regular attendees at the LeadsCon conference, we see the sophistication of the domestic student recruitment world. There are dozens of lead buyer/seller technology platforms, call centers, live lead transfer technology, lead scrubbing technology, anti-fraud providers and others, building an entire industry and bundle of technologies around recruiting US students into US colleges.
Contrast this domestic US industry to international education, where school promotion, student recruitment and inquiry generation has largely been listings on directory-style sites and excel spreadsheets of interested students on one hand, and in-country agents and in-person student fairs on the other. The development of a cluster of technology-based solutions around international student recruitment is in its infancy but moving fast, as in addition to us, there are participants like Zinch building technology to take international student community and inquiry generation to a whole new level. There is no doubt that the landscape of international student recruitment will look much different five years from now.
2. Types of Insurance Companies Involved in International Education
Throughout my tenure, there have always been many insurance providers exhibiting and advertising at the NAFSA Annual Conference . The numbers seem to hold steady, typically between 25 and 30 exhibitors in the exhibit hall. But the make-up of these providers has been changing, as we see less and less of the NAFSA-networked, small brokerage shop, being replaced by very big or very tech savvy insurance companies. Aetna and United HealthCare are as big as it gets in US healthcare, and they have both squarely targeted international students for their school group business. And to supplement their group business, technologically enhanced companies, like our International Student Insurance or ISOA, harness the power of the internet to reach individual students around the globe.
3. High Quality Media on the Business of International Education
The PIE News and ICEF Monitor are two good examples of this trend, but they are not alone. Each provides high-quality reporting and analysis on the business of international education. The Pie News even has a section devoted to acquisitions, highlighting M&A activity in the international education world. When there is a valid business model in publishing primarily on the business of international education, and a level of acquisition within the industry to warrant its own coverage and section, it is pretty good evidence of the flow of money into international education.