Not so long ago, globalization in higher education mostly meant studying abroad — usually at a different institution — for an academic term or two. Today, transnational education (TNE) can take many other forms. For instance, in addition to traveling abroad to study for a three- or four-year degree, students might earn a foreign degree online, at the local campus of a partnering institution or even at a local outpost of the foreign institution itself.

These innovations are a response to growing worldwide demand for educational choice, cultural exposure, language proficiency and professional mobility. However, meeting this demand can be tricky. It takes extensive networks and expertise to tap into the TNE student pool. It also takes carefully crafted programs that help international students get the most from their experience and put them firmly on the path to success. On top of that, it takes insight into nuances such as currency markets, immigration quotas, regulatory environments and the role of TNE in your long-term organizational goals.

Fueled by growing household incomes in developing markets and a thirst for high-quality tertiary education, international student mobility is a trend that is here to stay. Universities around the world as well as stand-alone pathway operators have been investing in their products, services and capabilities to ensure they can attract their fair share of international, full-fee-paying students.

L.E.K.’s Global Education practice has an extensive understanding of the TNE market. We have advised pioneers in TNE in developing, understanding and monitoring collaborative arrangements and TNE programs to achieve substantial growth.

How we help

We work with educational institutions, pathway providers and other stakeholders across the TNE continuum. Public or private, we can help you achieve sustainable growth with a view toward mobility trends, growth levers and key risk mitigation strategies.

More specifically, we support your efforts to:

  • Achieve international student acquisition goals. We can pinpoint the most attractive source countries for your organization — by offering, value proposition and alignment with each target country’s regulatory framework. Then we can help you build a strong recruitment engine in each source country via internal resources and/or external partnerships.
  • Enable international student success. Sheltered or integrated classes? Mainstream or differentiated curriculum? In-house, sole-source or multipartner structure? Whatever the goal, we can evaluate the costs and benefits of the available options — and, from there, build an effective framework for the future.
  • Expand your international footprint. We help you develop an in-depth understanding of students and competitors by country, including the effect each can have on your organization’s go-to-market strategy. We also work with you to craft a differentiated value proposition, customize it to student needs and use it to attract target students with global education aspirations. Finally, we can support decisions around international locations and online delivery.

Success stories

For more on how we help clients create value in transnational education, consider the following examples:

  • Market potential for a private-sector education company. We helped this Singapore-based education company find ways to expand its partner and student footprint in the United States. This included assessing the market demand for academic summer enrichment programs, as well as connecting with leading precollege academic enrichment program providers.
  • Overseas expansion for a top university. We identified attractive countries to support a prestigious university’s expansion from Australia to the Asia-Pacific region. As part of this, we identified key countries in the target region and then assessed the market, competitive landscape and most appropriate entry strategy for each. We also developed strategies for expanding program offerings to onshore international students.

How do we help clients achieve high-impact results?

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