The International Campus Opportunity

Our client, a highly ranked, research-intensive university was considering developing a branch campus in South East Asia, in partnership with a local organisation. The development, however, involved substantial risk – including to some aspects of the University’s wider operations.

Before reaching a go/no go decision, our client needed a detailed assessment of:

  • Government-related factors likely to influence the establishment and success of the campus
  • Market factors, particularly the campus’s attractiveness to domestic (in-country) applicants and to international students from across South Asia and the Middle East
  • The competitive environment in the Middle East and in South and South-East Asia, for the target subject disciplines, both now and forecast.


Multi-phase research

Marketwise Strategies worked with marketing specialists and senior academics within the University, to devise a multi-part study that included:

  • A substantial desk-research phase, exploring government drivers and barriers, market factors and the competitive environment. This drew on a wide variety of sources – in-country and global –  and enabled us to piece together a picture of the ‘landscape’ for a campus of this type.
  • Depth interviews with government informants, university recruitment agents and representatives from professions relevant to the international campus’s intended specialism.
  • An online survey among students from the Middle East and from South and South East Asia, who were studying outside their country of origin.


Students graduatingWe were conscious that recruitment of some of the audiences for primary research would be challenging. This was because of the issues involved in reaching relevant students and applicants (from particular countries), and due to sensitivities that were specific to a campus of this type.

As the research evolved, therefore, we worked closely with the University, to review the success of different recruitment strategies and panels, and to allocate budget appropriately. This meant that the client was always fully informed of progress and of the implications for project timescale.


We delivered a comprehensive report that combined insights from each phase of research and that reached conclusions about each of the key factors that would influence success. This included identifying and assessing:

  • The opportunity as a whole
  • Potential barriers – including possible sources of opposition
  • Implications for:
    • the offer
    • student recruitment
    • competitive positioning
    • marketing messages – and the perceptual barriers that may need to be overcome
    • accreditations that should be sought and relationships developed.

 Client comments

The report is thorough, detailed and clearly highlights areas of strength and potential risk for the University. We have really enjoyed working with your team on this project. We appreciate their determination when it has proven to be challenging, and their innovative solutions during these times. We have also felt well informed throughout the project.

— Assistant Registrar

Marketwise Strategies were very good to deal with all the way along – very professional, very informed and you got the sense that they were enjoying the project…and very much a sense that they understood our needs. We were also impressed with their tenacity and willingness to explore all possible avenues to try and get the data sets we had agreed – often under very challenging circumstances. We felt that we had a partner that we could rely on.

— Marketing Officer