British FE takes its brand overseas
Baroness Blackstone, education minister, launched "Education UK" - its promotional campaign to double the number of international FE students (an extra 25,000) by 2005. It wants to attract an extra 50,000 higher education students by the same year.
Since the initiative was launched by the Prime Minister last June, the British Council has been talking to consultants and commissioning research on what appeals to international students and what puts them off. It has conducted postal surveys and spoken to international students already here, as well as those who chose one of Britain's main competitors - Australia and the United States.
"We were trying to encapsulate the student perception of what we offer, compared to Australia and the USA," said Piera Gerrard, deputy director of the education counselling service at the British Council.
"UK quality is recognised as beyond dispute," she said. "We also have future recognition which means that our qualifications will mean something in the students' own countries. But we are seen as elitist, confident but possibly et in our ways."
The campaign will try to show how the UK has changed. "We are traditional, but in a dynamic way. We offer prospective students the opportunity "to be the best that you can be,''' said Ms Gerrard.
Eight countries are being targeted initially, including Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Russia, India, Brazil and Japan.
British Council offices throughout the world will be promoting Education UK, with posters and brochures adapted for each country and sent to schools and colleges. There will be advertising on buses and the London Underground. The council has produced three videos and there will also be exhibitions, visits and invitations for parents to attend meetings.
A range of products will say what courses are available - but will not categorise courses according to each sector - "so they will not have to understand what the FE sector is," said Ms Gerrard.
International education is worth pound;7 billion to the UK economy.
"But there is the other dimension of bringing a global aspect to UK education, providing a different quality of experience," Ms Gerrard said.
For further information the website address is: www.educationuk.org