Discover Studying Abroad

Marketing Canada as a Higher Education Destination

Engineering students Harikrishnan K & Raghu Menon from Amrita University in Kerala gave a presentation on how Canada should market itself as a study abroad destination for Indian students.
BY Harikrishnan K & Raghu Menon |   24-09-2014
Engineering students Harikrishnan K & Raghu Menon from Amrita University in Kerala gave a presentation on how Canada should market itself as a study abroad destination for Indian students.  for a recent Canada Marketing Strategy Competition between Rotman School of Management and the Canadian High Commission. We thought it was so good we’d share it here with you!

General Introduction:

The increasing number of Indian students travelling abroad is a testament to the growing aspirations of the emerging markets in our Global Economy.

They are often looked at as an important source of diversity , research potential and revenue for universities all over the World.

The fact that More Indian Students go to English Speaking Countries cannot be overlooked.

Even with the global slowdown post 2008 and the depreciating rupee the future of Study abroad looks promising.

Lets look at the Numbers .( From W.E.N.R: “Indian Study Abroad Trends: Past, Present and Future”)

“UKCISA: International Student Statistics”

The Total Number of Indians Studying abroad 2013: 190000

The Total Amount spent by Indians Studying Abroad: 5.90 Billion $.(Twice the Amount spent by Indian Govt. on Higher Education.)

Expenses Incurred per student:22650 $ (10.22 Lakh Rupees).

While Foreign Students contribute 6.50 Billion Dollars a Year to the Canadian Economy, The same number for the economies of the US and the UK are 20 Billion and 19.20 Billion respectively.

Market Share for CANADA in the Total Revenue generated By Indian Students: 15%

To get a better look at our Target Groups, We conducted a survey across a diverse set of people, both students as well as professionals.

The Questions we put forth were aligned to better understand the factors that drive students to pursue studies/research abroad.

Three of the Target Groups (T.G’s) are shown here.

Vishnu is a high school student studying in an international school. He is interested to study abroad but is not aware of the best Undergraduate Programs in Science.

Swati is a Software Professional working in Dubai. With three years of work experience she wants to pursue an M.S in Computer Engineering specializing in Cloud Computing. She is unaware of the Universities in CANADA that would provide her with the same.

Shibin is a engineering graduate  currently applying to Universities in the U.S and Canada. He feels the number of part time jobs in  American Universities far outnumber those in CANADA.

With such a diverse group of prospective applicants who would like to pursue subjects that range from Business,Engineering and Medicine.It is a challenging task to develop a one size fits all Marketing Strategy. But there are a few Strategies that overlap.

We surveyed a total of 43 people whose age group ranged from 16 to 30.

We were primarily interested to know what were the key drivers that helped students make their university selections.

The list of Questions from the survey are as Follows:

  1. Which Destination would you select for your higher education?
  2. What program is Canada known for?
  3. How Important is Culture Compatibility in Your Study Abroad Destination?
  4. Do Free Online Courses from a University draw you to apply to that University?
  5. Rate the Marketing done for Canadian Programs.
  6. Which private rankings do you Follow?
  7. Which country has the friendlier student Immigration process?
  8. Would you rather go to a Top 5 Canadian program or a Top 10 American program?
  9. Are Canadian Programs Costlier than US programs?
  10. Which country offers the highest number of Scholarships to Indian Students?
  11. Which country has the most number of part time jobs for graduate students.
  12. Post graduate work permits are issued for which of these countries?
  13. Main Factors to join a program abroad?

SWOT Analysis:

CANADAs strong economic performance compared to its G20 peers has helped its entrepreneurs.

The Canadian govt. promises more help through a slew of policy initiatives and tax and regulatory systems.

The Survey and interaction with several Study Abroad Facilitators helped us Ascertain certain features in Each Grid of the SWOT Matrix.

Few of the Strengths are:

  1. A Three Year Work Permit post Graduation was the prime driver among the target group who felt that this showed significant commitment from the Canadian government in the opening up of its economy to a diverse and rich pool of talent.
  2. The Second Strength was Cultural Diversity. There remains a perception among the target group that CANADA being a multi-cultural country places utmost importance towards human values and equality in all levels without any bias on the basis of race,relegion,language and sexual orientation.
  3. The High Quality of Education imparted at Canadian universities enforces the fact that Canada invests in its education sector with a proportionally high portion of its funds spent to improve quality and research.
  4. Regulatory and Tax regimes conducive to start-ups and new companies was another factor that drew people towards Canada.
  5. The Prospect of being able to access a high quality of life afforded to Canadian residents through its Permanent Resident program was another major attraction.


  1. Among the students who took the survey, CANADA was not perceived as a TOP destination for studies.
  2. CANADA’s presence in the worldwide rankings of universities leaves much to be desired, with only a few of Canadian schools being featured consistently.
  3. Most Students we surveyed were unaware of an Unique Selling Point or an unique trait for any particular university in Canada. For example few students were aware of the theoretical research that takes place at Simon Fraser university or that University Of Toronto was where insulin and stem cell research was first carried out.

There are many opportunities for CANADA.

  • The Changing Demographics of the world means more people are willing to move across the world both for education as well as for work.
  • Another opportunity is the fact that the demand for the higher education sector always exceeds the supply, this ensures that there is always a large pool of candidates to choose from. Selectivity Improves Quality.
  • Opening Up Universities Abroad is a Cost Effective way of taking your Brand forward and increasing its reach.
  • Massive Open Online Courses are here to stay and it’s has a huge potential in showcasing the high quality of education imparted at CANADIAN Universities to the remote corners of the world in a cost effective manner.
  • Tie Ups with the Top Science and Business Institutions in India is an Opportunity that takes gives CANADA access to a highly skilled and intelligent pool of future students.


The biggest threats in recent times has been an external one, the depreciating value of the rupee has made it much more costly for an Indian to pursue studies abroad.

The trend of Business R&D spending which shows a decline in CANADA is worrisome as its this spending that spurs spending in Universities and research institutions which attract students in the first place.

Poaching of Home grown talent by Educational Institutions abroad is another threat that stares the CANADA in the face.

Increased standards of living always lead to increased costs of education and this being a long term phenomenon is quite challenging to address.

To develop an action plan that suits the diverse demographics of Study Abroad Space in India is indeed a Challenge.

We believe that any such problem statement could be better addressed if it is broken down into a set of mutually exclusive and completely exhaustive tasks.

First such task is to Identify the main Target Groups that our strategy hopes to focus on. These include

  1. Prospective Undergraduate Students
  2. Prospective Science and Technology Post Graduate Students.
  3. Prospective Business Postgraduate Students.
  4. Prospective Research Scholars/Doctoral Students.

The Action Plan we have developed can be distributed among the three main forces of the education ecosystem.

The Government: Policies and Steps the Canadian Government can take to attract International Students.

The Universities: The short and Long Term Strategies that universities can adopt to improve the brand strength and sustain long term increase in applications.

The Industry: Measures that the industry can take to attract suitable talent from universities who would contribute to the ever improving research and development landscape in CANADA.

The Strategies have been further segregated based on the time it would take to be implemented, into Short term and Long Term Strategies.

Target Group 1: The Target Group 1 (henceforth called TG1) constitutes Prospective Undergraduate Students who are  of the age group 16-20. We found that the majority of those who wanted to study abroad from this TG, hailed from either Metro’s or Tier -1 cities. We found that a large number of these students prefer to study in International Schools, a majority of which are located in the Major Metros of India.

An analysis was carried out, after which it was understood that out of the Top 10. International Schools, More than 50% were located in Metro cities , and more than 80% of these schools in Metros were located in either Mumbai or Bangalore.(Source:EW International Schools Rankings 2012.)

Therefore a majority of our physical marketing will be confined to these regions. An initial estimate from the websites of all of international schools in the four cities namely Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai region puts the number to about 21000.(Source Wikipedia and individual school websites.)


A Majority of these students show interest in pursuing undergraduate engineering and science programs.(Almost 60%).

A Good Number of the rest  are inclined towards liberal arts and business programs.(Around 20%).

A Significant Number pursue Non-conventional degrees or programs related to emerging domains of study.

The T.G also shows excellent analytical and language skills and a majority of them would prefer to work in an International location after graduation.

Action Plan:


UNIVERSITIES: BE VISIBLE: The long term goal of universities must be to EDUCATE students about the benefits of pursuing undergraduate programs in CANADA, after which it must ENGAGE these students by activities such as Summer School Programs in CANADA for Indian Students and finally ESTABLISH a connect with these students.

GOVERNMENT: INCENTIVIZE:The absence of work permits for International students (without job offers) graduating from Bachelors programs acts as an impediment to attracting good talent  to CANADA. The CANADIAN government should therefore develop an short term work authorization program in which students completing their Bachelors degrees can work in CANADA for at least a year.

INDUSTRY: LEVERAGE:CANADIAN Industries can leverage their presence in India by hiring Indian students from CANADIAN universities to come back and work in their home countries. This way they can utilize the international and technological exposure of these candidates and apply them to emerging markets in India.


UNIVERSITIES: PROMOTE: Among many things the presence of Universities in the Social Media can go a long way in improving brand awareness. With 48% of the Internet Users in India among the 18-24 Age group (BCG Report 2014 ), a group of short term marketing campaigns can help in analyzing if there are any significant improvements in applications in the next admission cycle.

GOVERNMENT: REACH OUT: The government can enforce the need to pay equal attention to the Prospective Undergraduate Student market by restructuring the visa timelines for these programs such that students can get a head start and not need to spend a year or more preparing themselves for the whole process.

INDUSTRY: Canadian Industries have as much a role in improving their brand image as universities. This is because students want to be associated with successful and innovative establishments in their career. A short term social media marketing plan could help to improve the image of CANADA as a study destination in a holistic manner.

Target Group 2: These are Prospective Masters Students. The Target Group 2 (henceforth called TG2) involves students of the age group 20-30. We found that the majority of those who wanted to study abroad from this TG, hailed from the Urban Centers  and Tier-1 cities.

We approached this TG with a focus mainly on Student Quality and Financial Ability. There is a significant number of students within this TG who are capable of funding their higher studies abroad, and there are those students who depend either partially or fully on scholarships but are of top academic caliber.

CANADA must appeal to Both. Appealing to the financially capable students ensures a significant revenue stream for the universities. And appealing to the Top Students(Students from the TOP Institutes in the country) of the country ensures a steady supply of highly skilled labor as well as high quality research.

To better understand the numbers we further focused our analysis on these two categories of the T.G2

  • Total Number of Post Graduate Enrollment in India in 2013:2,104,334.
  • Number of Students Studying in I.I.Ts (Indian Institute of Technology) :9500.
  • Number of Students studying in National Institutes of Importance:29000.
  • Number of Students studying in The top 5 ranked private Universities:8000.
  • Number of Working professionals in the IT/ITES Degment:2,970,000 (Economic Times report FY 2013)

Reference: Annual Status of Higher Education in India by Deloitte.
A selective approach can help Canadian Universities attract the top talent from these universities.

As a strategy we have chosen to focus on a few private universities as well as all the National Institutes of Importance.

This helps us to sieve out the students who have secured their spots in these universities after rigorous rounds of entrance examinations.


  • Keen to pursue specialized masters programs.
  • Students enrolling for M.S programs are highly motivated by the research output of a particular university/School.
  • Passionate to work in fields that incorporate emerging technologies.
  • A High percentage of the group are software engineers.

Action Plan:


UNIVERSITIES: MARKET YOUR SPECIALTY: A Majority of students who pursue Masters programs abroad are highly selective of the universities they apply to. What helps these students to determine the perfect match for them, is when they know the strengths and core competencies of a particular University. It must be a priority of Universities to start positioning themselves as the leaders of their particular fields of competence.

GOVERNMENT: HIGHLIGHT the student friendly measures taken by the Canadian government, the most promising feature of which is the 3 Year work permit that’s available to every student who graduates from a Masters degree in Canada. 54% of the students we surveyed did not know about this.

INCREASE Scholarships.(At Present Scholarships for Indian Students are too little when compared to American Schools.)

INDUSTRY: Industry-University collaborated research improves the university and industry brand value. This is a symbiotic activity that leads to better rankings of the university as well as significant cost reduction for the industry.

Tailor Made programs that suit industry requirements could be designed keeping in mind the emerging markets, a region from where a significant number of TGs come from.


UNIVERSITIES: Web Presence for TG2 must be of a different approach. This TG is a diverse blend of astute, analytical and well informed applicants. They rely on web content : mainly Study abroad websites, Student Blogs, Social Media updates like Facebook Status and Twitter Posts. The aim should be to create good content that keeps the end user in mind. A large number of prospective applicants in our surveys mentioned that a good web presence would definitely help any university.

MOOCS: Massive Online Open Courses could give students abroad first hand experience of the Canadian universities with minimum costs involved.

GOVERNMENT: Short term measures do help in a sudden spurt  in numbers. For example waiving off the student visa fee for the first 100 applicants is  a way of generating student interest and also helps in being improving visibility  in the student networks.

INDUSTRY: Opening up more channels for recruiting international students helps creating a value proposition that students would associate with CANADA .An Industry orientation before career fairs exclusively for international students could help alleviate all anxiety and could help students take informed decisions towards planning their careers.

Target Group 3: The Target Group 3 (henceforth called TG3)  constitutes Business School Applicants and involves students/professionals of the age group 23-40. We found that the majority of those who wanted to study abroad from this TG, hailed from the Urban Centers  and Tier-1 cities.

Since the TG3 represents anyone with a graduate degree and at least 2 years of work ex, we had to follow another approach in identifying the number of people represented by our TG3. The approach we took was a simple one. We analyzed the number of students who took the GMAT exam in the year 2013.The Number of GMAT Test takers from India stood at the third position of test takers from any country. The Number 22878 is where we start.

Not all GMAT Test takers apply to CANADIAN B-Schools, A majority of these students have the U.S as their primary choice. CANADA in the year 2013 received a total of 29219 GMAT Scores for its Business programs. 63% of which were from international students.(GMAC DTG Canada report 2013.)

  • (The Number of GRE Scores used for Business Schools have not been used.(The number remaining small)).
  • The Scores sent from India have increased from 14.19% in the year 2009 to 18.48% in the year 2013.
  • The Number of Score Reports sent from India to Canada were:5401.

(GMAC DTG Canada report 2013.)

Its not only the number that can be improved, but the quality of applicants as well. While short term strategies would be used to improve the number of prospective applicants, Long term strategies would be used to improve the quality of these applicants.


  • The average age of Indian Applicants to  Business Schools in CANADA is 26.
  • A Majority of TG3 are engineers from core engineering streams such as Mechanical Engineering, Computer/I.T Engineering etc.
  • A Significant number of these applicants aspire to branch out into either Finance,Consulting,Operations or General management roles post their M.B.A.
  • A Majority of these applicants depend on student loans at high rates of Interests from Banks in their home countries.

Action Plan:



As was evident from our target Group Survey, Canada needs to improve its visibility in the world rankings for MBA programs. It was found that out of the top 5 Major rankings for Business Schools, Canada found mention only in two for the top 10 Rankings. It would therefore augur well to invest in School rankings sponsored by Canadian News and Business Agencies. The long term idea being to make the whole ranking process more transparent to the universities.

CHANGE THE METRIC: Changing the way applications are filtered will help Canadian B Schools find their proverbial diamonds in the rough. Tools Such as Psychometric Testing are being used to determine the best fit between the student/applicant and the Business School

PRESENCE ABROAD: A Global Presence would Ensure that Universities carry their Brand forward and would also help them develop new programs for emerging markets at competitive costs.

GOVERNMENT: A large numbers of graduates from Business Schools turn out to be job creators in an economy. It is important that Canada creates an ecosystem for such entrepreneurs to implement their ideas under relaxed tax and operation regulations. The government can implement a separate visa program post graduation for individuals with an entrepreneurial flair.

The government could grant three year work permits for Applicants pursuing the one year Executive M.B.A. Currently no such incentive is given to this particular pool of applicants .Executive MBA applicants usually come with at least 7-8 years of work experience in a variety of domains and can be quite industrious in profiles such as consulting and technology management.

INDUSTRY: A majority of the Business Education rankings are carried out by private news agencies or media houses. Such organizations in Canada have the responsibility towards formulating a transparent Business School ranking system that takes into account the unique features available in Canada.


UNIVERSITIES: GET THEM HOOKED: To improve short term visibility  Universities should engage their TGs such that they feel like a part  of a bigger community with a common goal. A good example is the ROTMAN Problem Solving Challenge that involves both incoming students as well as prospective applicants to find solutions for real-world problems. This not only advertises the ROTMAN MBA to all the participants, it also creates a sustained interest in the ROTMAN Brand.


By Helping Incoming Students to have access to subsidized educational loans, the Universities can re-inforce their commitment towards helping students from all economic strata of the applicant pool. An example of this is Prodigy Finance that has tie-ups with a Majority of Schools in North America.

GOVERNMENT: The short term priority of the Government should be to reduce the lead times for visa procedures for international students to cater to the increasing demand. With a healthy year on year increase in student visa applications. Canadian consulates must open more visa processing points for Indian applicants.

INDUSTRY: Canadian Industries must be roped in for every branding activity / sponsored interaction event in India. Alumni who have come back can serve as valuable resources in helping out future students. A network should therefore be established between the companies that alumni work for and the university itself.

Target Group 4: The Target Group 4 (henceforth called TG4) constitutes researchers/Doctoral Students and involves students/professionals of the age group 23-40. We found that the majority of those who wanted to study abroad from this TG, hailed from the Urban Centers  and Tier-1 cities as well as Tier 2 cities.

The TG4 represents a highly skilled set of applicants who have relevant knowledge/work experience in a particular domain and are looking for highly specialized Doctoral positions in the top ranked universities abroad. A report by the National Skill Development Council of India puts the number of P.H.D registrations across India to be about 36000.

To get the Number of students who actually pursue Doctoral studies abroad we dug a little deeper into the data from the GRE websites. Analysis from the year 2012-2013 shows that of a total of 534,761.56,782 were from India . Of the Indian total applicants 28% were P.H.D Aspirants.
This puts the number at 15,898.


According to the National Institute of Advanced Studies report titled “Trends in Higher Education: Creation and Analysis of a Database of P.H.Ds”  the highest number of Doctorates are from Natural Sciences(25.1%) followed by Humanities (24.1%), Agriculture(12.9%) and Engineering(8.6%).

Doctoral Students are a highly motivated set of applicants who regard the research outputs of the universities as the only performance metric.

They also prefer universities located away from large cities , such that the cost of living is in tandem with their monthly fellowship.

After their Doctoral degree, a majority of this group goes into academia or industrial research either at the host country or their home country.

Action Plan:


UNIVERSITIES: To attract the best minds from around the world the Universities must keep INVESTING in technology and infrastructure. A Roadmap has to be designed to list milestones and every 5 years the progress towards these milestones should be reviewed.

A NEW METRIC to evaluate prospective Doctoral students must be developed to gauge the students depth of knowledge in the subject. Interdisciplinary research programs must also be encouraged.

GOVERNMENT: Federal funding for research at universities in Canada is 23.3% of the total sources of funding while in countries like U.S.A and theU.K this number ranges between 40-60 %.The Long term goal of the government is to bridge this gap and increase the research spending in Universities.

More spending leads to more university jobs which in turn attracts more international students.

INDUSTRY: CREATE POST DOCTORAL OPPORTUNITIES to help fresh doctorates get  valuable cross disciplinary research and training experience.

EXPOSE existing International Graduate students to high quality research helps to bring them into the fold of Doctoral study.


UNIVERSITIES: Universities could sponsor collaborative research with partner universities in India. Along with a reduction in cost , collaborative research initiatives have been known to foster long lasting mutually beneficial relationships.

GOVERNMENT: The Government Needs to educate more prospective Doctoral Students about its various initiatives and immigration benefits that highly skilled individuals possessing Doctorates from Canadian universities enjoy.

INDUSTRY: Canadian Industries must be roped in for every branding activity / sponsored interaction event in India. Alumni who have come back can serve as valuable resources in helping out future students. A network should therefore be established between the companies that alumni work for and the university itself.


A closer Look into the Social Media Presence of Canadian Universities proves that there's a lot that can be done in this space.SHORT TERM STRATEGY IMPLEMENTATIONWe would like to use an example to illustrate this.

Separate strategies would be required for Search Engine Optimization and other Platforms.

Social Media Platform: Facebook

To quantitatively analyze the social media REACH of Rotman School of Management versus an American Business school such as Harvard, we first measured the likes, While Harvard Business School had a staggering 207,844 likes, the same number for Rotman was 2226.

(Although Rotman was founded in 1950 and Harvard was founded in 1908, that does not explain such a  huge margin of difference between the two brands.

While Rotman was perceived to be the top Business School in Canada by the sample size of the survey, It were Business Schools like Ivey,Schulich and Desautels that had more Likes on Facebook.

We now analyzed the content of the Rotman Facebook page with the Harvard Business School Page.

Based on our Analysis we have formulated.

1. Create a main page supported by country specific pages.(HUB and SPOKES)
  • This helps you better focus on your target group in a particular country.
  • Another advantage of this approach is that any negative feedback would be localized to that group, hence having little or no spillover effect.
  • This also helps in creating country specific content like videos from alumni of that particular country meant for the next batch of students.
2. Engage more users (Convert Passive to Active)
  • Any community is as good as its participants, same is true on Facebook.
  • Having a passive follower on facebook is like having no follower at all. It is therefore important to engage more and more followers with original and relevant content such that everyone takes an active involvement in the community.
  • Some of the best ways of Doing this are by having Discussions on daily news, topics related to education/research etcetera.
3. Empower your followers.(Be Democratic)
  • Any community/group that takes cognizance of its followers interest and moreover makes them party to the decision making process enjoys a long term relationship with its followers.
  • This can be done by involving all users in the management of content and creativity of the group.
  • Polls and Like contests are typical ways of doing this.


MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses have revolutionized the way in which universities impart knowledge.

Apart from facilitating access to world class knowledge to anyone with an internet connection, these courses provide students all over the world with a first hand experience of studying in any university around the World.

The Main players in this space are Coursera,eDX, Khan Academy and Udacity.All four of which are based in U.S.A.

With tie-ups with leading Universities of USA and the world, they have brought about the age of disruptive education innovation.

By July 2012 around 1.5 Million students had registered for MOOCs on these websites.

By October 2013 Coursera enrollment had surpassed 5 Million.

Coursera enrollment statistics show that 8.8% of its total students come from India.

That alone translates to around 440,000 students.

Its therefore of utmost importance for Canadian Universities to look at MOOCs seriously.

A casual look at the Coursera website reveals that while there were 52  US Universities involved with the website, the number of Canadian Schools were 4.

Steps for Strategy Implementation:

1. Know the User.

  • The first step would be to identify the need. If Universities know what kind of courses  students are taking online, then it would help then market specific and relevant content. Knowing the User also means knowing his/her constraints and limitations. For Example High speed Internet being inaccessible to a majority of students in India, Canadian Universities should learn how to convey maximum information using limited content.

2. Maintain Quality.

  • It could be Inferred that almost all students taking MOOCs are doing so because they feel the quality of education they have access too is of a lower standard. It is therefore challenging for Universities to make sure that their quality remains intact while shifting from the traditional classroom.

3. Ensure Completion.

  • A Major challenge for MOOCs is that not all who register complete them, with the completion percentage being less than 7 percent.
  • One way of approaching  this  problem is by charging students a nominal fee for this.
  • Another solution is to give weight age for MOOCs in the graduate program application process.

Alumni Engagement

Alumni play an Important part in any university marketing strategy. They are  the most potent force available for any University that has ambitions of scaling up. Every Year Alumni contribute Millions of dollars to their alma mater and also help recent graduates gain access to new opportunities. Building the Brand name of the university is equally beneficial to them as it is to the University. It is therefore that we need to incorporate them in the marketing process.


  • Any network is a means for facilitating contact between the two farthest points in it. Taking this engineering analogy, we feel that an alumnus of a university should have a sense of ownership of the University/School Brand.
  • Apart from having dinners and fund raisers every year, there should also be an informal mode of communication between he Alumni and their peers as well as juniors.
  • Making Alumni part of the teaching curriculumn and having alumni mentorship programs are all ways to achieve this.


  • Having spent a few years with the University themselves, the Alumni are an important source of feedback and experience sharing.Tapping into their suggestions, and ideas is an effective method of keeping them interested in the University affairs.



To improve the Canadian University Ranking Visibility requires a thorough analysis of few concepts.

  1. How are rankings done?
  2. What differentiates rankings?
  3. How are Rankings perceived?

Although the first two Questions can be answered rather straight-forwardly, the answer to the third depends on whom you ask. In our survey for example where the average age was 24 and the demographic primarily from an urban region, we got data that would not necessarily be same in another city of India.

Keeping these things in mind , lets focus on what we know. We know that on an average, Canadian Universities do not figure consistently in the Top 10.

We also know that a Majority of the rankings agencies are based in U.S and have a strong brand recognition in the U.S.A as well as in developing countries.

The Long term Strategy we would recommend is as follows.

1.Identify your Core Competence

  • Instead of improving the overall ranking of the Universities, Universities should concentrate of developing and showcasing what they are good at. For discerning students who come to a university, there has to be a Unique Selling Point that he/she cannot get from another university.
  • For Example: Brown University is known for being liberal about the course curriculum and encourages students to study what interests them.

2.Study Your Rankings

  • These days it is not enough to simply Comply with the requirements of a Rankings agency, it is also equally important to understand what variables have been used in the whole equation. Sometimes it takes an external eye to scrutinize a particular variable. Universities should therefore hire professionals to study their rankings and help them pin-point flaws they themselves may have overlooked.

3.Create Your Own

  • Since most rankings are done by news and Business agencies, it’s the collective effort of both Universities, Government as well as Industry to ensure better rankings .A majority of the world university rankings are done by agencies in the U.S.A as well as the U.K.
  • It would be in the best interest of Canadian Universities to partner with the Canadian Industry and create an home-grown alternative for these rankings.
  • This would not only allow Canadian Universities to leverage its strengths, but would also help generate more information that may or may not be available for the public.


In today's Globalised world access to any brand is a click away. But virtual presence may not always translate into brand value build-up.

Scaling up onshore in Canada could be costly as it involves building new infrastructure, training of Manpower and larger operation costs.

Opening up University centers abroad at the fraction of cost of expansion in the home country has made it possible for Globally oriented Universities to Scale up in a unique way. An example is Carnegie Mellon University with its Campus in Qatar.

India at present has not opened up its shores for foreign Universities per se. But that doesn’t mean that there is no Interest in this promising market.

By opening up research centers in India Schools like the Harvard Business School, Virginia Tech and the University of Chicago the U.S has gained the first mover advantage. Its therefore important for Canadian Schools to make their presence felt.

A few ways of Doing this are.

1. Collaboration with Indian Business Schools.
  • More and more Indian Universities are looking at tie-ups with foreign universities, apart from attracting students these tie ups facilitate long term information and student exchange. A Tie up with an Indian B-School allows Canadian Universities to get a first hand experience of the needs of the Indian students vis-a-vis students from other countries.

2.  Collaboration with Indian Research Institutions.

  • India's expenditure on R&D is improving and today there is no field of research in which India is absent. Canadian Universities and Research Institutions can significantly reduce costs by partnering with Indian Research Institutions and outsourcing research to India.
  • They could tap into the existing pool of highly skilled manpower in India.


As times change so will the Applicant selection methodology. Universities around the world that have developed unique selection methods to filter their applicants have always enjoyed a better quality of students. Another aspect is to understand the applicant holistically. There are a few ways to achieve this.

1. Analyze Your Current Selection Method:
  • The idea is to develop a closed loop process, where existing criterion for selection are evaluated after the admission process. Quality of students every year can be measured by looking at the usual parameters like grades, research publications etc but also by looking at other qualitative factors like innovative thinking, contribution to class discussion etc.

2. Develop a Holistic Selection Process:

  • Inclusion of Psychometric tests in the admission process can help universities to find a better fit between students and their courses.
  • With a highly skewed gender mix in the existing applicant pool(Skewed towards males), an effort should be made to improve the strength of female participants. A number of studies have shown that a healthy gender mix foster more innovation than a highly skewed one.

3. Back it Up:

  • Any new process must be scrutinized and all aspects of it studied , before its Implemented.
  • The Universities must therefore invest in researching the positive benefits from such a change.

Developing a marketing Strategy keeping in mind these diverse TGs and all the corresponding stakeholders such as the Canadian Government, Canadian Universities  and the Canadian Industries could be a Daunting task.

We have therefore taken a focused approach based on Three important parameters.

The parameters being :

  • Reach: The numbers of people the Marketing Strategy is capable of reaching.
  • Complexity: The overall ease of carrying out a strategy depends on several external as well as internal parameters.
  • Cost: The Cost of the Marketing Strategy should be acceptable and must not be prohibitive.
  • Lets look at the first Parameter – REACH.

To have a greater impact we looked back at all our Long Term and Short Term Marketing Strategies for all TGs.

Each Strategy was evaluated based on the number of people it would impact. Based on this a Ranking was created.

The Top Marketing Strategies based on reach Are:


  1. Social Media Presence
  2. M.O.O.C s
  3. Alumni engagement.
  1. Visibility in Rankings
  2. Opening up Universities Abroad.
  3. 3 year Work Permits for All TGs.

Now Lets look at the Second Parameter: COST.

  • Long Term Strategies are usually Associated with higher costs and short term strategies with lower costs.
  • Although it is impossible to come at a precise value that represents costs for each strategy, we used a ballpark / estimation approach for this.
  • Based on this Approach we could Identify the Top 3 Cost Effective Short term as Well as Long Term Strategies.


  1. Target Group Specific Engagement.(Problem Solving Challenge)
  2. M.O.O.C s.
  3. Social Media.
  1. Partnerships/Collaboration with Indian Universities.
  2. Showcasing a University Core Competence.
  3. Increasing Scholarships.

The Third parameter is Complexity. Going by the resources required, time needed, and  steps involved we can identify which of the strategies seem complex and which ones are less complex.


  1. M.O.O.Cs
  2. Virtual Admissions Guide.
  3. Social Media Management
  1. Tie Ups with Indian Universities.
  2. Developing the University U.S.P
  3. R&D Spending in Universities.

Based on these three parameters we have identified the optimal strategies that could be effective in addressing all the TGs involved.

Our Final list of Top three short term and Long Term Strategies are:


  1. Social Media Presence.
  2. Virtual Online Admission Genie.
  3. M.O.O.C s.


  1. Improve Rankings Visibility.
  2. Set Up Offshore University Campuses.
  3. Create an Additional Filter.

While short listing the  strategies based on the three parameters namely Cost, Complexity and Reach it was observed that it was important to start from a number and not the other way round. Also having a concrete number in Mind would help us optimize our resources and plan better.

To start lets consider Canada as a whole to be like a Multi National Company waiting to improve its revenue from a particular market, In this case India. any Company that wants to ramp up sales must ramp up marketing expenditure as well. A look into what companies are spending today on marketing allowed us to come at a figure of 10% of total revenue.

In the year 2013 International students generated 455 Million Dollars in federal and State tax revenues. Meanwhile out of 218,000 International Students in CANADA for the year 2013, 29,000 were from India. Using the percentage of Indian Student Contribution towards these revenues, which is: 60.5 Million 10% of this Number is 6.05 Million Dollars.

Therefore the total Marketing expenditure for International Students must be at least 61 Million Dollars while the Expenditure for Marketing in India should be at least 6.1 Million Dollars.

We need to Allocate adequate portions to each strategy. Its is understood that long term strategies are costly as they need to be sustained for a longer period of time.

Lets first Consider the Short Term Strategies.

Social Media Presence:

The primary Cost Drivers are

  1. Content Creation.
  2. Media Management
  3. Analytics and Metrics

The Primary Cost Drivers are:
  1. Content Creation.
  2. Service Utilization.
  3. Product Publicity.

Alumni Engagement:

The Primary Cost Drivers are:

  1. Alumni Database Management.
  2. Alumni Outreach Events

Now Lets Look at the LONG TERM Strategies and their primary Cost drivers.

Improve Visibility in Rankings:

The Primary Cost Drivers can be broadly classified into three

  1. Quality Improvement.
  2. New Ranking Development.
  3. Marketing New ranking.

Setup Offshore University Campuses:

The Primary Cost Drivers for this strategy are

  1. Market research
  2. Infrastructure Costs.
  3. Administrative/Legal Costs.
Create an Additional Filter:

The Primary Cost Drivers are
  1. Applicant Data Analytics
  2. Research and Study of Effectiveness.
  3. Marketing the new selection criteria

Unlike Short Term Strategies, Long Term Strategies are implemented  every 3-4 years. Therefore the cumulative Budget for this should be appropriately balanced out throughout a single year period.

Converting Threats to Opportunities and Weaknesses to Strengths.

We feel that with our individual target group based Strategies, we can easily convert the Threats into Opportunities and Weaknesses into Strengths.




Can't Read  
Enter Above Code:


Sign Up for our newsletter

Sign Up for latest updates and Newsletter