Posted on 12 May '21

The Legacy of COVID-19 in Postgraduate Education Marketing and Recruitment

Mark Garratt is Chair of CASE Europe Universities Marketing Forum and Global Director at the University of Law. Here he provides a follow up to his talk at our March webinar, commenting on how universities can maximise international recruitment post-COVID.

Whilst most HEIs in the UK are still in the thick of the COVID-19 crisis, I continue to believe that the future is bright.

The number of students in higher education around the world is due to rise from 20M to 40M by 2030 and those studying abroad from their native country is due to rise from 5M to 7M. As such, the UK government target of increasing international students studying in this country from circa 450k to 600k in the same time period should really not be a tough ask!

However, we do have a period of 18 months to two years where there will be disruption from travel restrictions and quarantine rules and UK HEIs may decide to use this ‘crisis’ to address the cost of international travel on their bottom lines. This means that international offices will need to think in a more creative and integrated way, and not rely solely on agents and in-country events.

In the past 12 months marketing functions have been speedy to put on virtual events, which have attracted as many (if not more) international students as home ones. However, the need for an even more personalised ‘customer journey’ becomes critical as the sales and marketing landscape ‘levels up’. As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

This is never truer now on how HEI marketing and conversion processes should appeal to prospective student emotions as much as the rationale fact-based information imparted. This becomes even more difficult in the new ‘virtual world’.

Finally, I do believe UK HEIs need to now look at their propositions and academic delivery. The speed at which they moved online in 2020 and to deliver more January starts in 2021, was nothing short of remarkable. This speed to market needs to be harnessed for the future, so we can really ensure that ‘Team GB’ is as competitive as it has ever been in the higher education sector.

If you’d like help with extending the reach of your courses and campaigns to our global FindAMasters and FindAPhD audience, please get in touch with your Account Manager, email [email protected] or call +44 (0)114 268 4940.

FindAMasters customers can also get access to our new insights dashboard – Masters Compass. Powered by visitors to, you'll be able to use live data to identify opportunities for international (and domestic) growth and review your programme portfolio with user trends. Visit our Masters Compass web page for more details.

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