Upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling are terms that are becoming increasingly prevalent in today's fast-paced and ever-evolving job market, and that means we in education need to think about how we are responding.
As we recently discussed in our NEOchats with Nannette Ripmeester, there is a growing skills gap between higher education and the labor market, and the way we support students to develop new skills, both within and beyond their time with us, is of critical importance.
These terms all refer to the process of acquiring new skills to improve one's career prospects, but there are some key differences between them.
Upskilling is basically the process of learning new skills to advance in your current field of work, and moving up the same ladder through additional training and certificates etc. Reskilling is changing to a new ladder entirely! In a world which is changing so very quickly, technology and climate change are two factors forcing huge changes which may render some jobs completely obsolete. Ask a coal miner, ski lift operator or content writer just how secure their jobs feel.
Cross-skilling, meanwhile, refers to the process of learning new skills that complement your existing skill-set. It is not as linear as upskilling, and involves the broadening of skills to enrich what you already do. An example could be learning a new language that helps you better connect with clients in new markets while not fundamentally altering your existing role. It's a bigger, more stable and more secure ladder to stand on, because the more you cross skill, the easier it is to change roles and fit into other projects in a horizontally structured organization.
The ladder analogy is getting stretched too far here, but so are our societies, economies, and ecosystems. As the challenges we face in this world become more complex, companies and industries are looking for people with a diverse range of skills and knowledge that can adapt to change and help them stay competitive.
For example, many manufacturing companies are now looking for employees who have experience in both manufacturing and software development, as automation and robotics are becoming more prevalent in the industry.
And in the finance industry, more and more employers are looking for candidates who have a background in both finance and technology, as digitalization is disrupting traditional business models.
Add to this the in-demand competences like adaptive thinking, complex problem-solving, cross-cultural communication and anticipatory thinking, which should all be developed in tandem with hard skills, and it casts a new light on how we look at that course brochure. New generations are looking for learning experiences that help them meet these new challenges, and institutions that are behind the curve on this will not long survive.
The education sector is also adapting to these trends, and schools and universities are working to prepare students for the rapidly changing job market.
Some institutions are offering programs that focus on upskilling and reskilling, such as coding bootcamps at the University of Edinburgh, while others are incorporating cross-skilling into their curriculum.
One example of a school doing this well is Georgia Tech's program in "Computational Media" which provides students with a cross-disciplinary background in computer science, design, and interactive technology.
Perhaps a step further is the transdisciplinary approach taken by the London School of Economics. The degree program they offer which is centered on solving problems that require input from many different disciplines is an innovative way to build complex problem-solving competences and a lifelong cross-skills learning. They even offer a transdisciplinary PhD, which flies in the face of the generalists versus specialists debate.
Additionally, many universities are now partnering with online learning platforms and massive open online courses (MOOCs) which provide access to a wide range of courses, allowing students to continue learning and upskilling throughout their careers. Looking for a real way to offer value to your alumni network? Here it is.
The longer traditional education focuses on knowledge over skills, essays, and exams over reflective and practical experiences, the more the skills gap will grow. The longer we funnel students into narrow and finite degree pathways without supporting them to cross skill as they develop new interests, the more we will see retention rates drop. The more we silo our academic offer, the less prepared our graduates are for the complex realities of the modern world.
At NEO Academy we are lifelong learning enthusiasts, from Ashley becoming a full stack developer in 2022, to Puri slaying every learning opportunity in sight, both upskilling and cross skilling are in our DNA. Education Marketing is changing rapidly, and we can help empower your teams to meet new challenges with fresh skills and new confidence. Get in touch to talk to us about our professional training and development offer.
We have always emphasized how quickly things are changing in education, and the application of technology to both its marketing and its teaching and learning dimensions.
There are days, however, where you just sit back and really reflect on the impact of those changes on the everyday things you do in working, learning and your own downtime.
Technology has developed that deeper layer now, and the implications of this are moving away from the confines of research papers and small academic circles, and starting to fundamentally change the way we do things. Deep technology is here.
Deep technology refers to cutting-edge technologies that have the potential to disrupt and transform entire industries. These are the things that make you stop and think "wow, this is going to really shake things up".
These technologies include things like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and quantum computing, among others. We have written about how blockchain technology is changing the way we track engagement, and the way we learn and credential. We have also looked at how AI helps create adaptive learning pathways to free up teachers for more focused support.
Though these articles seemed to discuss such technology as being on the fringes even quite recently, it seems like already such examples of deep tech are breaking through into the mainstream and really getting wider attention.
ChatGPT is of course a classic example of this very disruptive tech, though our personal view is that this is only a "threat" to education because traditional education has largely not evolved past one-dimensional assessments based on essays and reports. "Disruptive" is a positive word.
In the world of higher education, deep technology is being used in lots of ways; not only to improve the student experience, but also to make education more accessible and affordable.
One of the most exciting applications of deep technology in higher education is the use of AI in the classroom. AI-powered learning systems can personalize the learning experience for each student, providing tailored instruction and feedback to help them succeed.
Georgia Institute of Technology has developed an AI-powered tutoring system that can help students with their homework, providing explanations and guidance as needed. This system has been shown to improve student performance and engagement, as well as reduce the workload for instructors.
This is fast becoming a "normal" thing, and as it does, the tech gets better. Georgia's AI system was able to learn from the responses of 40,000 students in developing more effective interventions, but imagine when this data is pooled with others, and drawing instead on millions of responses.
Another area where deep technology is making a big impact in higher education is in the field of online learning. Platforms like Coursera and edX, which offer online courses from top universities, are using AI and machine learning to provide personalized learning experiences for students.
Blockchain technology is also being used in higher education to improve the process of issuing and verifying degrees. For example, the University of Nicosia in Cyprus developed a blockchain-based system for issuing degrees back in 2014, which is now extremely robust and makes it easy for employers and other organizations to verify the authenticity of a degree. This system helps to combat fraud and makes it easier for graduates to prove their credentials. This is now becoming much more widespread.
In addition to these examples, deep technology is also being used in higher education to improve research and innovation. For example, quantum computing is being used in research to solve complex problems that are beyond the capabilities of traditional computers. This technology is being used in fields like materials' science, chemistry, and physics, helping researchers to make new discoveries and develop new technologies.
You know how everyone talks about being unable to predict the jobs of the future? Deep tech is a big part of that. When researchers are able to use quantum computing for incredibly complex simulations of new technology in infinitely customizable iterations, the new products and services they can produce are simply impossible for us to imagine. Change will be our only constant.
So, what does all of this mean for education marketing? Deep technology has the potential to revolutionize the way we think about education, making it more accessible and personalized for students. As a result, education marketers will need to think about how they can take advantage of these technologies to reach and engage with potential students in new and innovative ways.
We have all seen AI begin to personalize the marketing experience for potential students through, for example, using AI-powered chatbots to answer questions and provide information about programs and courses. This can help to improve the student experience and increase engagement, but also frees up colleagues in marketing and recruitment to focus their time on creativity, development and more targeted interventions.
Blockchain technology can be used to create a transparent and secure system for storing and sharing student data, which helps to build trust, and to verify the authenticity of a degree or program, such as at Birmingham University in the UK.
However, it is in the fields of Zero Knowledge Advertising, and using virtual reality to create immersive campus visit experiences like those at Princeton, that deep technology is really coming into its own in our sector.
This is one of those reflective periods, and when we emerge from that, ready to take new insights forward, NEO Academy is here to help. From process automation to marketing strategies to reach a new generation, we want to work with values-led forward-thinking institutions to help you grow. To see if we are a good fit, check here to unlock a free audit!
The world of marketing is in a bit of confusion right now, and it's really not its fault. We have all by now heard that third party cookies are set to be eliminated by Google, and given that two thirds of internet users are doing it on Chrome Browsers, that amounts to a de facto elimination of cookies entirely. Given the way we track engagement currently, this announcement had us all rushing to learn about FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), TOPICS, and ZKA (Zero Knowledge Advertising) before the whole thing changed in 2023.
It didn't. After all the rush, Google pushed back the elimination of third party cookies until 2025, has recently dropped FLoC altogether, and there's no news on TOPICS. Although, we deep dived on Google TOPICS last year, there's no point explaining FLoC here, as it's already gone, but the more general concept of ZKA is definitely worth a look. It may be coming a little more slowly (unless governments decide that personal privacy laws require it sooner), but it is coming, and we can use the extension of time to really build our knowledge and plan strategically, to respond, rather than react, to a significant shift.
Consumer demands for privacy are firming up only a little more quickly than the regulatory landscape is evolving to protect us from invasive advertising. When you look at shoes on Amazon, then see an ad for them on Instagram, that's a third party cooking tracking you. They use them to see what you do online, and what sites you visit when you're not on our their website; helping them build detailed buyer personas and big data portraits of how to engage with their targets. Research has shown that they are, with the right info, now able to target a single user on Facebook.
Google obviously knows that this is becoming far less accepted. Google knows everything you see, except perhaps what exactly to replace these cookies with. Perhaps they should ask old uncle Yahoo or cousin Bing for some ideas on that one.
The Internet Advertising Bureau - a hugely influential body - recently called its members to greater action. They said the disappearance of cookies was a "slow motion train wreck" for which we are just not prepared, and watching Google make U-turn after U-turn on what might replace it, was making any coherent response very challenging. The IAB's head left us with the chilling remark that soon, those of us in marketing would soon be "operating by candlelight", and trying to find answers in the dark. Not good.
The name says it all here. A wide-ranging EU survey found that 51% of respondents felt only partial control over their online data, and 30% felt they had no control at all. PIMs are an attempt to help users manage and control their own data. The term itself is quite wide-ranging, including tools which help you manage your files such as Dropbox, but also includes the way you control your personal data footprint online.
Individuals are able to customize what categories of data they want to share and with whom". Note that Nextcloud has emerged from a fully organic-growth strategy, Mydata is a non-profit organization, Solid is the brainchild of MIT, and Profila has undergone a research project in partnership with the University Carlos III of Madrid.
Things are all flowing the same way, as we move from content consumers to content creators, centralized control to decentralized centers, Web 2 to Web 3, Internet to Metaverse, and we in Education Marketing best make sure we are ahead of the curve and not trailing in its wake.
While we do not yet know the specific tech or metrics through which we can build our campaigns of the future, we do know the general shape of things to come. Zero Knowledge Advertising (ZKA*) isn't advertising without any clue of how to do it. Peloton did that really well/badly when they released this ad campaign, that simultaneously shamed women into feeling that "thin" was akin to being accepted, and also made it look like her husband was a bit too creepy, and the whole thing seemed like an abusive relationship. And let's not forget Bud Light's disgusting answer to the #MeToo movement. Ugh.
Instead, imagine this: you install an app on your phone or laptop. You configure that app to tell it how, when, how often you want to share your personal data, or even if you want to share anything at all. You come across a nice pair of sneakers that you love, and really vibe with the brand. So, you decide you want to engage and allow the brand to know you are there checking them out.
In return for allowing the brand to engage with you, you receive a reward. This could be a convertible digital token that has monetary value, maybe a little crypto, or it could be for example a discount on those sneakers. That is an example of ZKA, though it can work via a browser such as Brave as well as an app.
Basically, we are all pretty much used to seeing ads pop up, and some of us actually don't mind them when we see something that we'd actually like to click on. What we don't like is invasive ads, and the loss of our sense of privacy.
Around 65% of Generation Z have ad blockers downloaded and in use, and the mistrust is building year-on-year. Through ZKA concepts, brands are spending some of their marketing budget on these tokens, and actually paying users to engage.
The best part is, that though these brands will engage with your digital presence, they have no ways of knowing who the physical person is. This is unlike it is now, where you can be tracked to your Social Media profile, so your physical and digital persona is the same thing, and you can be identified. ZKA means you can separate these, choosing who gets to see the digital you, while the real you remains anonymous.
ZKA is really just one outcome of the development of the wider tech known as Zero Knowledge Proof (ZKP). ZKP is a way to anonymize transactions, in a way that is kind of like proving to someone that you know the answer to a question, without actually letting them know what that answer is. There are more analogies here if you like that sort of thing.
Yes, ok, this might take some getting used to. But basically, through ZKP, users can for example pay for something, prove that they are who they say they are and have the right to pay with that card or crypto wallet, but in a way that cannot be tracked, and the user can't be identified. The verification is carried out on the user's native device (e.g. phone) and not on the server end, so the data stays with the user. It really is incredibly impressive.
You can see it too, right? Generation Alpha are on their way, already used to tokens, NFTs, in-game rewards and all the rest of it, and ZKA fits right in. This will be the way this new generation can be reached, and yet so many institutions in our sector are several steps behind with downloadable brochures, scattergun ads and using "gut instinct" over intelligent data, well-designed CRMs and smooth attribution models. If we haven't yet caught up with today, then we will be floored by it tomorrow.
As we mentioned before, ZKA is just part of a bigger shift that will become normalized in a very short time. The institution that survives into the 2030s is inviting students to engage, letting them control their content and data, embracing their peer to peer decision building, building open communities, and meeting them where they are.
So where are you? This can be overwhelming; believe us when we say we have felt it too. But look around you; our community is packed with resilient, brilliant, creative minds, supportive colleagues and changemakers.
NEO is here for you, to help you refine processes, refresh your brand engagement strategy, empower your team with training and new skills. Google has given us a little breathing room while they sort things out, so let's use the time wisely and prepare. It all starts with a conversation, so reach out and let's face the new generation of students with confidence.
*ZKA is also the airport code for Zacacoyuca in Mexico, which is a fun word to say. Try it!
Every single year, many of us sit down to reflect on the 12 months that have just elapsed, and the 12 in front of us. How well did we do on our own personal scale, and what can we learn and take forward to move towards the things we want to achieve? The beauty and tyranny of the blank page in equal measures.
But we have been here before. The year before, and the year before that. Some things we have managed to change, and others we have not.
The "gym spike" is a real thing, with a huge increase in membership sign-ups in January of between 34% and 50%, slumping back to previous levels by March. Advertising plays on this, of course, given that so many of us are feeling far from our personal best after the indulgence of the holidays, and the blank page of a new year offers that chance at redemption. Advertisers play on this, and tap into that feeling every single year.
Setting goals and then not achieving them is just not good for us. We can feel demotivated, disempowered and just plain disappointed in ourselves. Or, we can blame all the stuff that got in our way, and while we are sitting down to set new goals, we have not really addressed the real reasons why the previous attempt did not succeed. It is a bad cycle to fall into.
The thing is that, while most of us have heard of SMART goals, stretch goals and all the rest of it, we don't often talk about the habits and personal beliefs that underpin all of it. We can set all the incremental targets we want, but if something fundamental is not shifting in the way we see our ability to achieve them, or in the daily habits that support change, then we are just setting ourselves up for more disappointment.
So what might we do to set ourselves up for a greater chance of success in setting resolutions? Fortunately, we really are starting to understand a whole lot about how to build lasting change into our lives.
This focus on moving forward is only half the story. As we learn to do new things, or to build in new habits, we have to unlearn the old ones. This process of adaptive unlearning is a combination of letting old habits or beliefs wither away and gradually building in new ones. The phrase "deep unlearning" is key here, because we are talking about habits and beliefs which might have been ingrained for decades: how we eat, how we communicate, how we feel about ourselves and so much more.
Deep unlearning requires us to really reflectively question why we do things the way we do them, and unpack all the elements that make up the choices we make. So much of this has become automated by a brain that just loves routine, predictability, and the same ol' same.
Rather than just saying "I need to become better at listening to others" this year, and going straight to goal setting, we recommend spending time on the deconstruction of your old habits first. Why do you interrupt people? Is it all people, or just some? What triggers this behavior? How do you feel when interrupted? Who makes you feel like you are really being listened to?
Preparing to make change in our lives is going to work much better if we are feeling good in general. Eating and sleeping well, and setting positive routines in place, is all fundamentally part of this. Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, in his hugely popular podcast, talked at length about the neurology and biochemistry of making and breaking habits. He summarized this by saying that "Adjusting habits requires overcoming “limbic friction” (energy to overcome anxiety, procrastination and/or fatigue). You’ll want to leverage the natural rhythms of your brain and body to make it more likely that you will engage or maintain habits"
From optimal caffeine intake and delay, to daylight exposure and focus setting, Huberman sets out the empirical approach to a well crafted day that will support wider change. The biochemical effects of food are really well documented by Doctor Michael Greger on his not-for-profit website Nutritionfacts, which goes into much greater detail on the way different food affects our mood, our chemistry, and our ability to be the best versions of ourselves.
The 31st of December does not morph into the 1st of January suddenly. The clock ticks, the year shifts, and the transformation is sudden and radical. Habit change is not like that at all. When we sit in our sofas watching TV on the 31st and explode out of the house in lycra-clad optimism on the 1st, that race is not a marathon, but a sprint, and it will be over shortly.
Real change happens a little bit at a time. Smokers might one day just reach for the chewing gum instead of the cigarette, but though the action was sudden, there was likely a gradual process of change behind it, from cutting down, to reflecting on the impact of the habit on hygiene, health and finances.
The law of marginal gains says that small changes made each day can add up to remarkable results. This is well documented in areas like sports and business, and author James Clear in his book Atomic Habits has taken this much further into a clearly codified manual for making lasting change in our lives.
This really is a remarkable book, and no, we are not receiving a commission from the publisher to say so. We could delve into neuroscience or behavioral psychology, but Clear really has drawn it all together for us with three key lessons.
Lesson one is "Small habits make a big difference" and the law of marginal gains is key here. Mathematically, if you get one percent better each day, you'll be 37 times better by the end of the year. Have you ever walked up a hill, step by step, then turned round and been surprised at how high you've climbed? It's like that, and starting the 1st of January by saying you're going to get 1% better at something each day, rather than go from 0 to 100 overnight, is far more realistic.
Lesson two is "Forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead". This is really interesting, because the focus is not on the goal itself, but on all of the things you do that support the opposite. If your goal is to "get fit", you are less likely to succeed, than by saying "I will focus on identifying and breaking all the bad habits that support an unhealthy lifestyle". When you come from work and immediately slump into a chair, then identify the cue and the reward, and focus on changing that by removing it or making it unattractive.
Lesson three is "build identity-based habits". This means again not focusing on what you want to do, but who you want to be. Every time you make a small change towards that, it is effectively a vote towards building that new identity. Gandhi didn't actually say "be the change you wish to see" in those exact words, but that was the essence of it. And it is true.
"The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.” (Atomic Habits, p.27)
Advertisers know how you want to feel, and tell you the cure is by consuming their goods or services. Tradition talks of setting goals on 1st January about changed behaviors, as though we can simply flick a switch, and it's all about "willpower", whatever that is. And when we fail to achieve these goals, we turn that inwards and tell ourselves the story that we can't change, or that it is just too hard.
Be gentle with yourself. By understanding our own brains, and cultivating new systems to break apart old ones but by bit, we can change at our own pace, and celebrate every small step towards whom we want to be. You can't sell that, mass produce or commoditize it, which is perhaps why we hear far less about it. That does not make it any less true.
So beyond 2023, we ask you: who is it you want to be?
Did you set resolutions for 2022? Did you track them? Honestly, we can't even remember, and from talking to colleagues, we know we're not alone.
Talking about disruption, we should say that there is a very reasonable body of thinking to suggest that we should make resolutions for the spring, and not for 1st January anyway. This is particularly true in the northern hemisphere, as on top of the post-festive dopamine slump, we also have bitingly cold weather and dark days to contend with.
The ancient babylonians, who are thought to have started the whole new year's resolutions thing, actually began their year in March, when the spring crops were planted. It appears that the methodists changed that to 1st January during the late 18th century and much of Europe, North America, Australasia and many others just decided that sounded pretty sensible.
Even after 4000 years of doing this, humankind have a pretty miserable track record of sticking to these resolutions, which is why next week, we will be looking at the science of building effective habits. It can be done, and the NEO team have each decided to set their resolutions, and not only support each other where they can, but also to keep each other accountable. And if we decide to start some of them with the spring crops, then that's what we're going to do.
So here they are; our resolutions, as personal as they are. How do they resonate with you? We are hopeful that, in sharing these, we can encourage others to do the same, and to support each other in making the changes we hold most dear.
Sole was candid when said that resolutions are really part of a longer journey. While new year might be a useful reflection point, Sole's 2022 and 2023 resolutions are blending into each other, and we'll bet that she is not alone in that.
Some things can be compartmentalized, however, like professional development. In 2023 Sole wants to finish her training refresher in paid media campaigns, and begin a new course with the Project Management Institute. Project Management is a big part of Sole's role at NEO and when you have a fully remote team, the structures become even more important. Much of this, according to Sole, is not only for the team, but for our clients, as they deserve clarity, precision and follow-through at all times.
However, the longer term goal of developing deeper leadership skills is where Sole's focus has been for some time now. To be an effective leader, and to be present for others, means a generosity of spirit and acceptance towards ourselves. Leadership is a dual journey, being about ourselves and about others, and it is never linear.
What is clear, is that Sole wants to be the best version of herself for others. To support them, to help them develop their own unique paths and to embrace that, so they feel they both have a voice and an ear when each is required.
You can't pour from an empty cup goes the old saying, and in the last team meeting of 2022, Sole accepted that while she had always pushed others in the team to set healthy work-life boundaries, she herself had not been able to do so. NEO grew quickly in 2022, and Sole held nothing in reserve as she gave it all to supporting that growth, looking after others and making sure our work was always of the highest quality.
So much did Sole remind the team that they needed to switch off and leave work alone sometimes, that the team affectionate refer to her as their "police dog" (it probably sounds better in italian). However, that has to work both ways so in 2023 Sole has committed to not only continuing to reinforce strong boundaries between work and personal time for the team, but to actually model that behavior herself. The team, in this way, also get to be police dogs (it sounds better in Spanish too), and hold Sole accountable to that. We are all greater together than the sum of our parts.
Oh and lastly, Sole was so inspired by the EAIE Conference in 2022 that she has determined to make a more positive impact on education in 2023, and really be conscious of the wider effects of the way she works. When asked for more information, Sole mysteriously said it was a "work in progress". When pressed again for specifics, Sole admitted she could provide "No more details because I don't have them yet, heheh :)"
That response is one of the many reasons we love Sole. Authentic and strong while embracing radical candor and vulnerability; a rare mix indeed.
Tsundoku, according to the Japanese, is the art of buying books and never reading them. Sara confesses to this, but through lack of time, not lack of motivation. In 2023, her goal is to read at least 5 books from her list, starting with the incredible book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.
Not making time to to do the things that nourish us is a common ailment of the modern world. It is particularly difficult when remote working, as boundaries blur between work time and personal time in the same physical space. Sara aims to reinforce these boundaries more this year, taking completely work-free breaks to recharge, and disconnecting mentally and technologically from work to restore balance.
Lastly, though energy efficiency is a hot topic right now with spiralling costs and dangerous levels of emissions, we really should be equally conscious of our personal energies. Some people and activities give you that energy, and others take it. Sara wants to use more of this year to reflect on who and what are the fountains or drains in her life, and eliminate the latter.
This sounds easy, like something that could be handled by a bit of thinking time and a two-column spreadsheet, but not so. Sara has recognised that she has people pleasing tendencies, and so saying "no" does not come easy. However, having already learned the hard way that you can never please everyone anyway, Sara is in a good space from which to move forward to a life that has clearer boundaries.
Now you're already going to see a theme emerging here, and we bet it is familiar to those of you in startups and agile teams within our sector. Yes, it's work-life balance.
Alejandra is setting the goal of having less screen time, and filling that space with hobbies or quiet time. Having reflected that giving ourselves permission to have this time actually makes us more productive, Alejandra feels that this is a win-win. What is perhaps less discussed, however, is the fact that, even in a horizontal and tight-knit team like ours, culture change has to come from leadership. Whether consciously or not, when we see the CEO setting a healthier work-life balance, it helps the rest of the team feel more at ease to do so.
That does not mean working habits don't change, however. We still have to have meetings, but why at a desk? Why not while walking? Alejandra has committed to a learning journey to develop more nature-based practice in the work environment and to personal leadership in 2023, and we will of course share what we all learn from that. If she connects to a Zoom call from the woods or while walking someone else's dog, now you'll know the reason why.
Mark is the oldest dude on the team and, while that might bring some useful experience, it also means he has had longer to reinforce bad habits and wire them in. Giving himself permission to switch off from work and do nothing at all is the one thing that has challenged him most, but he feels that this year, all the right things are in place for him to make the change.
It is a subtle thing, but powerful. Think about it- you switch off the laptop and say "no more today". And then what? Doom Scrolling on Instagram? Ok, it might be easier to fill that space with something else, but how many of us can just give ourselves permission to truly, authentically stop? A resolution to do nothing, rather than to do something, is a new twist on a 4,000 year-old challenge.
Professionally, Mark aims to focus himself much more on specific areas related to sustainability, and to develop a healthier reflective learning practice built on a more disciplined daily routine.
Purity raised quite an interesting angle on the whole resolutions thing, in that she has always set them for herself, but being part of the NEO team has brought out a drive to be better not only for herself but for the team around her too.
Now we can always trust Purity to buck the trend, and as the rest of the team are figuring out how to switch off and decompress, Purity is looking for the booster switch. Not only has Purity set out what she called a "skill acquisition marathon", but she has segmented it all into different parts of the year, just to make certain she is hardcore learning every single month.
January to March Purity attacks Data Analysis in Marketing and HTML & CSS get gobbled up between April and June. No summer holiday for our Purity as she slays Google Tag Manager & Marketing automation by September, and then eases into the year end with some light CRO & Programmatic Advertising in Education.
Purity isn't just going hard at hard skills, but aims to "polish" her attention to detail, time management and stress management. When we say "aims to", that's perhaps a hollow phrase as we all know that Purity will do whatever she sets out to do.
And if you think we are overdoing things with words like "slay" and "attack", we will leave you with Purity's own words to conclude: "By the end of the year, I would like to be an Analytics BEAST, no matter what it takes." Purity wrote that in caps, and she's not messing around.
On top of an amazing year supporting our clients and tour team at NEO, Ashley learned to be a full stack developer in 2022! So while she might not personally refer to her approach as "beast mode", it kind of is.
Ashley is an observer. Always conscious of her interactions, reflective of how people around her act and what she might learn from that. It is no surprise that in 2023, Ashley wants to work on her leadership skills, and really focus on soft-skill development.
But you don't nail a challenging coding programme if you're only interested in coaching and active listening. Ashley has the bug for the hard skills too, and is determined that by the end of 2023 she will have more detailed knowledge of a wider variety of CRMs and databases and their complex integrations for data management. Ashley also plans to dive deeper into the world of SEO and through technical integrations be able to increase the engagement and positioning of web pages, and we have no doubt that she will make that happen.
Charlie is a robot, so he pretty much has things under control, but he does feel that he should perhaps oil himself more often. The team used to maintain him more carefully until they started to get dogs, and now he realizes he has to be a bit more self sufficient. It's a hard truth to take, or at least it would be, if Charlie wasn't made of springs and wires.
What Charlie will do, however, is make sure the world knows that even in the age of automation, AI and immersive tech, people matter. Our wellbeing, the way we work and live, the support we have for each other, and how we communicate that, is perhaps more important than ever. Our common resolution is always going to be a commitment to you; to be the best we can be in supporting our clients, colleagues and partners with a values-based approach. As Charlie would say, that's the nuts and bolts of it.
We were going to write about the personal development or Self-Help (SH) books which really inspired us this year, but we had a nagging sensation that there is just more to this. And there is.
Picking up a SH book is not going to help you on its own. There is no shortage of people telling you that they are pointless, misinformed or one-sided. But then we do meet that person who tells us their life changed after reading the 5am club or nonviolent communication.
So what's the deal? At NEO we are hugely passionate lifelong learners, and so we value all forms of professional development, but we equally recognise that there are strategies to everything which help you get the most out of something. Reading a crime novel has no real strategy; you read it, you finish it, or you don't. We don't have to do anything with the story, except perhaps to ruin the book for one of our friends after we accidentally (sort of) tell them the ending after a couple of sangrías.
Reading a SH book, or even choosing to read it, is really different and needs a bit of thought, so let's dig in shall we?
Ok, problems in the plural, let's be honest. We wrote a while back that some of these books are just badly written. The author has a great idea, but just over eggs it, or puts it into some clumsy narrative between two equally nauseating characters. That does not help.
But let's put that aside for now and assume that most of the bestsellers we might pick up have decent editors who can get the book into shape. PD books are often (certainly not always) read by people who are very keen to make a change in their lives. From becoming more assertive and organised to overcoming trauma or developing leadership skills, SH books have to get the big calls right. These people want advice they can put into action, and getting the wrong advice can often be harmful and make things worse.
Jessica Wildfire writes on Medium that with global warming, unemployment, rising prices and falling living standards, it is no wonder Millennials are picking up SH books looking for a cure.
Mark Manson, author of the Suble Art of not Giving a F*ck actually trashes most of his peers indirectly on his website. He says that most SH books do not present much evidence, but leave it up to us to figure out what is credible or not. They can create unrealistic expectations ("you are a money making machine! Go get 'em tiger!), and can actually be another form of just avoiding the issue; reading around the problem rather than addressing it. He also makes the point (and it made us laugh) that it's not really self-help if someone else is trying to give you the answers in your life.
This Forbes article talks of the placebo effect where nothing in the book itself does anything, but reading it does make us pay attention more to how we behave and think, and it is our own reflective process that changes things.
We could go on, but the point is made, and we all probably empathise with some of this. Some of these books are just not empirically tested, they are vague reinterpretations of old ideas with no practical way to implement, or just hot air. There is no getting around it.
After all that, you would be forgiven for thinking we are totally over the idea that self-help books carry any real substance or can help us in any meaningful way. That's not what we think at all, but we do think they need to be used with caution; especially when they are being used to support you in a time of acute need or dramatic development.
Firstly, we need to be mindful that, all the hype aside, the category of books that can actually change your life is a very narrow one. Tom Belskie, writing about the amazing book Atomic Habits said that "In my humble opinion, it’s so good that I would motion to file it under the elite category of books that can actually change your life. This is a motion that I do not at all take lightly."
So really doing your homework on the book itself is important. The cover looks great and the quotes on the back promise the earth, but some digging will reveal whether or not it is really worth your time. Quality over quantity of self-help books is a winner. Beyond that, the collective wisdom of those in the know suggest the following:
This is a habit that needs to be built, and there are skills that are built alongside it. In our world of education marketing and recruitment, most people we know get fairly regular CPD in their institutions, and a smaller (but not insignificant) number do their own learning. What we have found, however, is that while most are happy to share recommendations on the course they took on data analytics or video marketing, we are a bit less willing to share the more personal side of our personal development.
If you have recommendations for our community on books which changed your life, we would love to hear about them. We believe that we are all a work in progress, and embracing this is a strength. Bringing the emotional side into our work, sharing in our vulnerabilities and cheering each other on as we find our way forward to becoming better versions of ourselves; we are all for this. If you ever work with us, expect a hug instead of a handshake, and be ready to share some book recommendations.
"I just have a gut feeling" is an expression you would probably not expect to ever hear in such a data-driven environment as marketing, but we have heard it often. Where we need to rely on a gut feeling, there is clearly an absence of data, and so instinctive actions based on experience and an understanding of the market come into play.
With so much at stake for ROI from strictly monitored budgets, this can be a huge risk, especially because no data to make the decision means no data to track its efficacy.
So why is this happening? Yes, it is true that education institutions are often large and decentralized, with systems and processes that do not always join up and talk to each other. Manual processing of information can be siloed, with team members not always aware that information they are capturing is of great importance to others in the team.
However, short of a process overhaul, there is very often a simpler way to make better data-driven decisions and measurements. Yes, we are talking about attribution models; in other words, ways to figure out what the exact touchpoints are which lead to conversions.
Congratulations! A new student just signed up for the MBA. But what really led to that decision to sign up? Was it the first interaction, the follow-up call, the paid media ad she saw, the FAQ on the website, the social post or that beautifully crafted marketing email? Every one of these has a cost, but really knowing how important each one is in converting prospects is nuanced and tricky.
The journey from awareness of your institution to enrolling in a course can take place in so many different ways. With multiple engagement points, each with their own metrics and associated spend, running blind is an expensive business.
CRM tools can be configured to assign credits to each step in the conversion journey, so that we can see where most impact is happening, but even then we have to think about tailoring that to our own context. If we are as focused on generating brand awareness as we are on sales, then there is one setup, whereas there might be a different configuration for high volume sales leads, or even for those who want to build initial quality leads to nurture further on.
Even in using education portals, attribution is not always clear. In the cases where leads fill in a form on the portal's page, the trick is to connect it via a straightforward API to the institution's CRM. In the setup where the portal redirects traffic, but not leads, implementing a correct tracking is a best practice which should not be skipped. There is no right or wrong from a leads' redirection strategy VS a traffic generation strategy. What is non-negotiable in both cases, though, is a proper integration and tracking.
There is another grey area when it comes to paid media: should we allocate a lead to the source from which it entered or the one from which it converted? We're talking here about the distinction between the "first interaction" (source from which it entered) and the "last interaction" (source from which converted). Sometimes a contact enters the CRM because of an organic action (first source), but makes the decision to enroll after having seen an ad (last source). The question is, then, which is the source to which we should attribute the conversion? The first or the last? Speaking of no right or wrong, this could be associated to the egg or the chicken dilemma. As we don't want to upset any vegan folks here, our only comment is that no matter which one you decide on, stick to that choice, and don't try and mix and match attribution processes.
Seeking the support of professionals on these types of configuration and decision-making processes is highly recommended (hi!) but there is something more straightforward that many professionals in the education marketing and recruitment sector actually miss. Something that can make all the difference to the way we track lead and engagement data. That thing is the landing page.
A lot of thought goes into creating a call to action, but the creative focus often falls on the call, as the action is usually one thing only: go to our website.
A typical website for an institution has a lot of room to browse around, from testimonials to faculty pages, course descriptions to student life. Funneling a prospective student straight from a social click to your full website is something Malcolm Gladwell warned us about.
There is a lot of room on a website in which to get lost, and ultimately bounce out with a vague intention to come back later, if they ever do. We need to narrow the focus, and the landing page does that.
On a single landing page, you can leave all the critical information in one place. This person has clicked on a social post about an MBA, and they will want all the important details about that course to be in one place only. Fees, timetables, start date, content, accreditation, faculty, learning experience and all of that good stuff, right there in one space.
This is a controlled environment, and a further call to action in and of itself. Minimise distractions on this page, allow it to be easily shared on socials, make all the information crystal clear and make sure keywords are carefully chosen, not overstuffed, and the whole thing is optimised for conversions.
Speaking of conversions, whether they happen or not, it is of paramount importance to track in the same place the efforts from both marketing and admissions teams. Remember that "without data, you're just another person with an opinion", who is navigating blindly, and driven by a gut feeling.
With that in mind, integrating all sources and centralizing information in a CRM, to measure all marketing actions in the same place, and to be able to compare the marketing investment per source VS the enrolments from it, is absolutely crucial. The data insights from a 360 degrees view in a CRM might make you realize that one source works better for your September intake, while another one is the most accurate one for a specific geographical area. "In God we trust; all others must bring data."
So what is the action we want them to take from the landing page? If you go to all the bother of providing critical and persuasive information on the landing page, only to give a contact email address at the end, this is another massively missed opportunity. A contact form is what you need here, specially created to dovetail into your CRM and give you the information you really want. When properly configured, this form sends metrics to the CRM, enabling admissions team members to be one step ahead towards conversion.
On the one hand, they will receive very valuable information to emphasise on during the first call (e.g.: if the answer to "how are you willing to fund your studies" is "scholarship" instead of "personal funding", the admissions staff can already tailor their pitch to this lead's particular case).
On the other hand, if a lead scoring strategy has been implemented, depending on the input from the lead on that contact form, the CRM automation will generate a score for each lead, and, in the case where the staff is reduced in numbers, only the leads with higher scores should be contacted by the admissions team. The rest should be done by the CRM automations based on personalised actions aiming at automatic lead qualification and conversion.
We aren't done yet, though. If we're thinking that's it all done and dusted, then where are your manners? A thank-you responder is one of the most understated tools in the whole process. This can be as simple as a confirmation that the lead's details have been received and that someone will be in touch shortly, or it could be an email with a summary of the tailor made offer, a link to a webinar or downloadable asset, but there should be something at the end.
That something is important for the lead as it gives them something back in return for their data, but it's also something very important for the institution as a Thank You page is crucial for reporting purposes. Some would think that we could use the submission form to measure how many contacts arrived from a specific landing. The reality is that if that same form is used in other places, such as the main website or other landings, the results will be combined. That is why an ad hoc Thank You page should be created for each landing to use as a "conversion event".
Configuring and building landing pages and contact forms, tailoring your CRM, to ensure attribution data is properly captured; this can all be quite technical to set up, but once it is done, it really just needs to be tweaked and monitored. At NEO Academy, we are committed to empowering you to lead this change. Yes we can come in to work with you, get to know your brand and help to build campaigns, landing pages and CRM structures and attribution models for all of it, but we aim to train you as well, not to linger.
The thing is, that data is empowerment, once we know how to get it and how to use it. When structures are in place and the team know where to focus and why, we can make decisions based not on our guts, but on good and solid information. When we know what is working, we can tighten up our budget allocation and really show ROI on the things that work.
This can sound like a lot of work, but the truth is that this level of automation frees us up to do the things that plugins and attribution models cannot: be creative, communicate, build things together as a team.
If you do think this is something we can help you with, then we call you to action- click this link, be taken to our lovely free audit form to find out if we are a good fit. We won't leave you hanging.
Have you heard of UNICA? This organisation is a Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe. They are unique because of their focus on the 41 capital cities of Europe, largely due to them being hubs of innovation and development in close proximity to the seats of political power and influence. In short, they want to help these universities to "support decisions and policies that contribute to the creation of a Europe based on social understanding, global collaboration, and sustainability."
UNICA hosted an important event yesterday, and we were there. The UNICA PR & Communication group met for its 10th annual gathering, and this time the focus was on looking at how the pandemic (and many concurrent socio-technological shifts) impacted the way that we recruit and communicate with international students.
If you know us by now, you will know that this is right up NEO street, and so our Founder & CEO Alejandra Otero was there, to give a talk entitled "From myth to opportunity: why understanding Gen Alpha and the Metaverse matter".
So why exactly does it matter? Well, there are four important areas this talk covered, and while they are contextualised by data and theory of change that will impact the way universities recruit and communicate, they also cover extremely practical ways to actually adapt to this change and to future-proof our sector.
The generation who are right now beginning to search for higher education options are different. Not like the boomers and the Y's are different, but more like how movies portray the generational gap of the 1950s and 60s, with conservative, prudent parents totally unable to understand their rock 'n' roll or hippy children. That huge gap rolls around every now and again, and it is on our doorstep once more.
This time, the gap is not caused by emerging from a world of war and trauma into high levels of material prosperity and a lack of faith in political institutions. This time, the shift is largely caused by the democracy and decentralisation of new technology.
The first Gen Alpha were born from 2010- the year the iPad was launched - and the last Gen Alphas will be born in 2024. By the end of this decade, Gen Alphas will be the biggest generation the world has ever seen, with 2 billion Alphas well on the way.
Research tells us that Gen Alpha will mature more quickly than Generation Z. They have grown up as digital natives from birth, been exposed to more adult ideas and dialogue, learned to source their own solutions and this has generally led to a tendency to crowdsource information to help them make decisions. Only 22% of Alphas say adverts affect them at all, with only 14% saying that they are influenced by online personalities.
Alphas tend to surpass their parents' knowledge of technology by the time they are 8 years old, respond well to gamified content, and the opportunity to create content rather than be passive recipients of it. Universities who are still sending static brochures to download, or creating online spaces with the all the vibrancy of a 1950s parent, are already several steps behind.
We need to look at a new way to communicate with this generation, and we only have a few years to really get that wired in to our strategies and campaigns.
With a generation who can think for themselves (or at least know where to find alternative sources of information from those they trust and can relate to), we need to work on building authentic tone, building our social listening capacity, and making sure that we as institutions are doing what we say we are.
Communicating clearly on issues which Gen Alpha cares about is also very important. Wellbeing, diversity, inclusion, sustainability and a commitment to actually doing something to make the world better; all of these things are vitally important to maintain relevance in the eyes of a socially impassioned generation.
Upping our tech game to ensure we are present in new metaverse spaces, Discord servers, community building spaces and many more, is perhaps the shift which concerns institutions most. The way of communication which accompanies this, however, is the real prize. Peer to peer support and recommendations, student generated content, gamified approaches to student engagement are all things that go hand in hand with more open digital spaces.
Yes, this is the M word. The metaverse is not one thing or one place, but a whole new asynchronous digital world that opens up possibilities for learning, innovation, and communication, among others. This means not only using new channels in new ways but also building our capacity in Education Marketing and Recruitment to really understand how people engage with these spaces.
Yes 2023! "The future is already here" is a worn-out phrase that we really would like to see retired, but it happens also to be true. What is also already here, however, is your passion, your knowledge and skills, and your deep understanding of marketing and communication. Adapting to Gen Alpha and rethinking our digital approach might seem daunting, but you are further along the road than you may realise.
You do not have to figure out a virtual campus visit in 2023, or stroll around campus in AR Glasses, wondering what on earth is going on. Rome was not built in a day (though it was destroyed pretty quickly!), and there are really accessible ways to begin. Learning more about the tone and approach of communication in student recruitment for Alphas, is a great investment of time. Basic gamification of marketing assets can be as simple as a tweak of vocabulary and structure at the start, and there is lots of support available in how to take your first steps into new social channels, or to adapt the way we already use WhatsApp, TikTok, Instagram and the like.
What we are saying, is that getting started is not as daunting as we might think. What we are also saying, however, is that if we want to stay relevant in a world of changing career paths and changing perspectives on the value of traditional credentials, we have to get moving now. 2023 is a great place to start.
There is a whole lot to say on this, and the UNICA Conference offered a distilled version of a lot of wider concepts and information to help to frame the challenges we face and the opportunities they can yield for us.
As the end of the year is approaching, and you reflect on our own 2023 strategy, we want you to know that we are here for the next steps. As an Education Marketing consultancy, we are focused on empowering you through training, optimisation and expertise, so that you can take things forward without us. We meant what we said- our colleagues in the sector already have so much in place to help, and important skills they can build on to optimise marketing and recruitment for Gen Alpha and the metaverse.
Beyond the UNICA talk, we can help you develop a viable and realistic 2023 strategy that builds forward to an optimised approach fit for this new environment, just reach out to start the conversation.
Impact rankings are not a new thing, but they are suddenly in very sharp focus. Rather than traditional rankings which consider things like quantity of research, teaching quality and staff to student ratio, impact rankings look at the contribution an institution makes towards a sustainable future planet, society and economy.
This has been around for a little while already. Greenmetric began measuring the impact of HEIs in 2010, on the "three pillars" of sustainability: social, economic and environmental. Before that, the well-known US-centric, STARS (Sustainability Tracking And Rating System) began to measure impact in 2006.
While not tied explicitly to the SDGs, their self-report tool tracks progress in a number of key areas, from building energy efficiency to the impact of the investments the institution makes. The WURI (World Universities with Real Impact) framework was launched in 2021, but does broaden out the sense of "impact" to consider aspects such as the way the institution prepares its learners for the fourth industrial revolution.
In 2018, Times Higher Education decided to develop a new impact ranking system which uses the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as its core framework. The merits of this at a methodological level are something to be debated (measuring impact in general is notoriously difficult, and THE do not claim to be perfect in this), but the use of such a universally recognised structure is very welcome.
Think about it. Right now HEI's are signing net-zero pledges, embedding sustainability in their curriculum, building out their research, innovation and organisational strategy to become transformative forces for change in society. All of this is generally guided by the SDGs and their sub-indicators and KPIs, so having an impact ranking on the same wavelength is a real game changer.
We attended the Times Higher Education Global Sustainable Development Congress in Glasgow in November 2022. The event opened with Phil Baty of THE talking about the need for impact rankings. Whilst frankly admitting that the process of impact ranking was not an exact science, THE does drive its rankings' configuration through access to vast amounts of data.
A university news article, whilst cynical about the monetisation of such data, did conclude that the THE impact rankings "highlight the importance of the SDGs and provide a tool for self-assessment which higher education institutions can then showcase to students and others". At this level alone, that is important.
Baty referred in his opening remarks to the results of a survey of 2000 young students, in which 82% of them said they expected their HEI to instill in them the skills and knowledge to support sustainability. More than 30% of them said they would check the institution's record and commitment to sustainability as a factor in their decision to study there. The panel agreed wholeheartedly that this number would grow.
Later in the day, these sentiments were echoed by Tony Chan, President of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. Tony told the audience that more and more students were coming to them, not for specific disciplines of study, but to find out how they might address certain issues in the world and do something to help solve them. "It would be a good idea to organise our studies around solving problems, or even around the SDGs themselves" said Tony, and this is a sentiment we see growing.
Keystone Education Group say that "future generations, of Z and Alpha, want to be problem-solvers, fix the environmental crisis, and make the world better. And they are now in college or beginning their college search".
Impact rankings based around the SDGs are not just about universities celebrating their own growth towards net-zero and transformative leadership, but will be something the education marketing and admissions teams need to really be aware of. The search is no longer so much about prestige, as it is about impact.
Take a look at the 2022 impact rankings. Many of the usual suspects, who occupy the upper echelons of more traditional rankings, are notable for their absence on page one. The Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) comes in joint 4th place, despite being ranked 165th in the more traditional QS World University Rankings. We see a strong showing in SDG 5 (gender equality), which is not an SDG that many universities are strong in. Despite being a science university, which is typically male dominated even today, USM boasts a 64 : 36 female to male ratio, as well as a number of outreach programmes to broaden access beyond traditional recruitment and admissions routes.
That is amazing. Where would this show up in a traditional ranking matrix? How much weight would it be given? The thing is that people do care about things like this. We care about things like this. Finally, universities who are doing good things to address social issues have rankings that help them showcase their initiatives and connect with a new generation who are looking beyond prestige for something more.
Say what you will about the accuracy of the ranking systems, but the difference between impact rankings and the rest is that just participating is good for everyone. Working towards the SDGs is a marathon, not a sprint, and as more and more attention is paid to sustainable institutions, more and more institutions will want to be part of this. That has always been the way of change.
Sharing the data also comes with sharing the knowledge. Notice in the impact rankings how SDG 17 was the most prominent goal throughout the whole thing. Why? Because partnerships are everything in moving collectively towards change. Research and innovation communities, broader access to study and greater collaboration between public, private and third sectors is part of de-siloing higher education and helping it to become the fluid and adaptive reflection of our higher ideals that we all need it to be.
There is something different about impact rankings: collaborative over competitive, progress over prestige, impact over self-interest. We are excited to watch the way this changes the game in the next five years and beyond, and of course as a purpose-first and values-based marketing consultancy, we are ready to help others connect with new generations over a shared sense of what we might do together.
Oh, wow. There is a lot in this, isn't there? Let's unpack it right at the start, We have had the same doubts ourselves many times: Our team can learn to do so many things, so why not just upskill them to do something rather than contracting someone external? How can I trust the external company anyway, and won't they just try to keep us dependent on their services? And this whole "gig economy" things is surely not something we really want to promote, because building team and talent in-house is the socially and strategically responsible thing to do.
All valid, and understandable. Like all things, however, there are shades of grey here, and other ways to look at the situation. We are reminded of a colleague of ours who is opening a new café business. In May 2022 they took possession of the premises and decided to keep costs low by doing all of the decor and renovation themselves. They had to learn how to sand floors and plaster walls, and all on top of an already busy life.
Instead of opening in July 2022 to catch the peak tourist season, they are on track to open in November, after paying rent for 6 months with no revenue. They worked out that had they paid professionals to do the work in May and June, the café would have been open on time and generating business throughout the summer months. Of course hindsight is always crystal clear, but there is a lesson in there, so let's deal with these doubts one by one.
Yes to this, but with a word of caution. Developing the skills and know-how of your team is essential to a fulfilling personal development approach, and also makes good business sense, but what does it take to get there? A team that is already overstretched may not have time to build that capacity in the timescale you need it to happen, and developing new skills may dilute the time they can spend on consolidating core skills. It is never straightforward.
Externalising parts of your process can actually help free them up to do this. Say, for example, you are operating with a limited CRM, or with an M&R process that is not fluid and automated. Getting someone in with a fresh perspective to streamline efficiency, is something that will pay dividends over and over again. The ROI here is having your team freed from the onerous burden of production-line tasks that a well-designed workflow can handle.
There is also the argument of core skills. Say, for example, you want to add a community building approach to your M&R. What are the core skill areas that really add value to your team in the long term- designing and building the structures or actually managing and developing them? The former is a one-off task, whereas the latter is a long-term iterative process built on the foundations of a well-designed process. Externalise the first, and focus your team on the second.
Lastly, a bit of honest self reflection is important here. We work in education M&R and know how versatile our colleagues are at so many aspects of the business. We cannot, however, be experts in everything. Our colleagues who opened the café will be the first to tell you, "don't look too closely at the walls"! They may have done an adequate job, but they are experts in food and drink, hospitality and strategy, not plastering.
Though things like CRM process design can seem a closely related field to what we do in M&R, the truth is that it is a specialisation. Getting things right first time means relying on expertise that may lie outside your team, and that's ok. Our café colleagues have managed to hang pictures over the worst bits in their walls, but errors in your M&R automation, community building, brand voice or whatever else could cause far more damage and cost a whole lot more to cover up.
We're not moving into giving relationship advice here, but we have to recognise that this is a major issue. We have been there ourselves. How do we trust the integrity of our brand and the quality of our service to someone who is outside the team and culture? How do we contract someone to solve a problem for us in a way that (a) does not leave us dependent on them every single time we need to iterate that solution and (b) will be there for us if we really do need them, without disappearing into the distance as soon as the invoice clears?
This is why we are very deliberate in becoming a marketing consultancy and not an agency. We have seen time and again the agency who holds the keys to a website, to data insights, to editing rights on a CRM. The agency, which drip-feeds services at premium prices, when it knows that you absolutely will need these to scale and grow from the initial service package.
Sorry to make this all about us here, but this is something we feel passionately about. It may seem counterintuitive in our sector, but we mean what we say: our work is a success when we are no longer needed. We focus not only on solving problems for education providers, but on training and capacity building so that your team can have full control over what comes next. We are around if needed, and happy to return for the next big shift in processes or services, but essentially we aim to build solutions that design us out of the picture.
Trust is important to us too, and that is why we have said no to so many offers of collaboration. Values matter, people matter, integrity matters, and we have to start somewhere. It takes time, and means staying small and personal, but reputations are built on this. Just ask any of our clients and partners what they think, and we know what they will say. You won't see a 5-storey NEO HQ in Manhattan (ever), but there are 5 stories on our testimonials page that matter more.
We will end it here, because this is the most we have talked about ourselves in any article, and as extroverted introverts, we need a rest after that. Suffice to say that the "gig economy" is only good or bad depending on choice. Forcing people to work on short term, unstable contracts when you could and should hire them is clearly a bad thing.
We, however, as with so many others, have consciously chosen the freedom of freelancing. Gen Alpha, the metaverse, online learning, new skills demand and so many other factors are keeping us constantly busy learning new things and adapting the way we work to serve our community best. We can't do that in a fixed role, and we would never want to. We know what we are experts at, and we know how we can help you. If we can't, we'll tell you, and recommend someone else.
So if you are nervous about externalising some work, then we understand. Be careful, be cautious, but also be realistic about what you really need and why, and please don't end up with the false economy of trying to do everything in house. The café will do ok in the end, but our sector is too competitive for just OK. Get in touch if you want to chat about where we can ease pressure, free you up, or just re-plaster the whole thing. We're here for the relationship, not the transaction.
Social media is obviously an important means to engage with prospective students for Higher Education. However, each individual channel is a distinct tool in and of itself. As someone will doubtless remind you when you post holiday snaps on LinkedIn: "this is not Facebook".
You know what? Post your holiday snaps where you like, but when it comes to our professional budget-limited efforts to engage students through the channels we choose and the way we do it, we do have some pressure to get things right. Getting it wrong not only hampers results in a hugely competitive sector, but damages brand credibility and might even make it into someone's listicle of the 5 greatest blunders or 10 worst examples of social media use. You don't want that.
Meeting students where they are is an opportunity to engage with them on the native channels they already inhabit, as opposed to drawing them into spaces or channels which the institution brands and controls. Social media is really about building an organic sense of community with fellow prospective students, those already enrolled, alumni and university staff members, which means not only getting answers to their questions but also feeling connected and part of something before they enrol.
However, this discussion about channels takes us not only along the well-worn paths of Facebook versus Insta, but into whole new spaces that are still largely unexplored by most HEI's. We are talking about gaming communities like Roblox, for example, and a whole new generation of Alphas who just aren't that into your funnels and pipelines, and will force you to rethink the whole thing in less than 3 years time.
Caveat first: things are changing fast, and the pace is going to get faster. At the moment, however, we do have some interesting stats as a current snapshot, which were discussed by NEO Founder & CEO Alejandra Otero and American University of Rome's Stefania Corrado on a Keystone Education Group Webinar in October 2022.
Kyle Campbell, Founder of the recommendable Education Marketer Newsletter, made the interesting point that though we tend to hear in Europe and North America that "Facebook is dead" for younger generations, globally it is still a force to be reckoned with, so if you are targeting Africa, Asia or Oceania, don't fall into the "Facebook is for mums" way of thinking.
In the same line of thinking, even though TikTok is not appearing at the top of the list in the channels prospective students used to find information on institutions, it is the app that tends to hugely influence the bigger channels. TikTok is perhaps not where the engagement happens, but it is a place where students discover your institution and then follow up on other channels. Get this- 14% of students already use TikTok as a place to search for information about your institution.
That said, there is a big divide in terms of the way age segments social media channel use. Globally, prospective students will still prefer Instagram for undergraduate searches, Facebook for masters level, and LinkedIn for PhDs.
The new generation of learners want personalised, tailored, authentic information, and they want it quickly. It's not their fault; those of us who grew up with dial up internet learned to wait, whereas the WhatsApp generation are looking for a fast response. WhatsApp for HEIs does allow us to be more available (within the boundaries of a healthy work-life balance!), and does allow us to tailor quick responses and show genuine interest in the enquiry.
In the next few years, however, just watch this list shift dramatically. Generation Alpha are already immersed in Minecraft, Roblox, Discord and are generally metaverse-positive. If we are truly committed to meeting students where they are, then we have to start looking seriously at gamifying our engagement, and being present in a metaverse space.
Social media in general tends to be more heavily used at the discovery phase in general, and then tends to filter out the closer the student gets to enrollment, so there are those who use it as a yielding tool, rather than marketing per se.
Overall, Keystone found that (drum roll....) 75% of students used social media as a search engine when choosing an institution and offer. Not your website, not your own social media, but instead they are looking to see what other people are saying about you. Increasingly, new generations of students will trust their peers, and others they perceive as authentic, over the downloadable brochure with testimonials from smiling alumni. Honestly, that's not entirely surprising.
What it does mean, is that we need to really think about two things: social listening and student content creation.
Social listening is the process of using specific tools to monitor what people are saying about your institution and implementing reputation management strategies to protect your brand. This is particularly important where gaps are identified between what an institution is highlighting as a strength or crucial part of their MVV (Mission, Vision, Values), and what people are actually saying about it. If a school is pushing a message about sustainability and CSR, but social media is buzzing with stories that contradict this, you need to get in there quickly.
No it is not about covering things up, but listening, responding, and learning. This is a way of getting really authentic feedback and giving you the opportunity to really adapt responses and communication approaches in a bespoke way. By searching wide and deep to find out where and why people are mentioning your institution, you can not only really sharpen up those admissions offers, but also find user-generated content that might be worth resharing.
User generated content is really important, and maybe more than we initially thought. The metaverse, gaming, trending social media channels; all of it points to the fact that younger generations are not content consumers, but content creators first and foremost. They want to be in the driving seat not only for what they produce, but also who they listen to and why. That changes everything, but we do have to be careful that the user content that we share is closely aligned with our own messaging and values, so that the message coheres.
Alejandra Otero tells us that TikTok is really on the up. Why? Largely because of the "for you page", where the user gets to personalize the content they really want to see and this largely informs the way the algorithm develops, because it comes directly from what users want. This is a new and powerful way of doing things, based not on reach and legacy, but discovery and niche-targetting.
Coming up behind that wave is the broader community of gaming and avant-garde communities like Discord, where users choose where and how they interact based on their own direct interests. It is vital that Institutions learn how to gamify their offer and present themselves in a way that makes users genuinely want to click and engage, but they must also do so in a way that takes into account a whole rethink of privacy and digital identity. Yes, the user will be far more in control of this too, and you can read more on the specifics of this here.
Paid media strategies are still going to be an important part of our approach, but as a complement to a wider, comprehensive strategy. This narrow focus on paid media in isolation is something common in our sector, and the ROI is not always clear. However, when it is integrated and used as one part of your overall approach, it can really work. An example of this would be using disruptive, attention grabbing videos as a paid campaign, but then leading users to actionable information such as a landing page, and then a thank you page to measure the progress. The last steps might get the ROI credit for conversion, but would they have got there without paid media in the first place? We need to think more broadly and strategically.
We hope that you managed to take a bit of time to listen to the webinar, and to download the report that accompanies it, but we do understand that keeping up with all of this can often be a bit overwhelming in buy marketing and recruitment teams! You are not the only one who is working hard to keep up with these changes, and we are definitely better placed to cope by working together and sharing expertise. As always, if we can join you in conversation at an event, or with your team as part of our Academy offer, just get in touch to tell us what you need.
We are just back from the fantastic event that is ICEF Berlin, the flagship event in the ICEF calendar and a very important meeting point for ideas, colleagues and new connections.
NEO likes to get fully immersed in these events, and we want not only to learn and absorb new ideas, but to be part of the conversation about what we think is important in the future of our sector.
In the spirit of adding to the conversation, NEO Founder & CEO Alejandra Otero was invited to take part in a talk and panel discussion alongside ISIC - International Student Identity Card's Jodie Kilian and TrainHub's Jimmy Battaglia, moderated by ICEF's Ross Holmes. The theme was one which we've been exploring more and more on our journey of being a purpose-first organisation: digital student identity, and how to balance the integrity and ethics of marketing engagement with the results we need to remain competitive.
This is really tricky. In digital marketing, there are strict laws that govern privacy and data protection; although some have found some workarounds to make them less strict. As a society, we are dependent on tech, and it's a vicious cycle: the more we are connected, the more there is data about us, which feeds predictive analytics to personalize content aiming at higher engagement levels and consumption. To feed the system, we use tracking tools that adjust the algorithm and the delivery of targeted ads. Welcome to the loop of a hyper connected society.
Let’s go back to the concepts of Web2 and Web3. Web2 is the holy grail of advertisers but the nightmare of privacy-adept users, while Web3 is an alternative, more trustworthy solution. As a matter of fact, in the Web2 world, companies are extracting information from the user to have a better match with their target audience, while in the Web3 space, which is privacy-preserving, the tables are turned and the user is the owner of its data, unless he/she decides to share it.
Should this not sound familiar, sit back for a second and think about the consequences of using your Facebook login or Google credentials on platforms different to Google or Facebook. By doing so, more data inputs about our digital identity are being created and the profiling of our digital selves done by these companies becomes more and more scary, to the point they can even predict the next purchase from an individual based on previously gathered data. If we move to Web3 in the sense of login, it is done through a digital wallet (ID: XYZ123) which protects your identity and prevents advertisers from crossing data points on you and shaping your digital identity.
Now let’s take this to the younger generations: Gen Alpha & Gen Z. They are gamers at heart and spend a sufficient amount of time on the metaverse. Their digital ID in that ecosystem is based on characters, avatars, memojis, NFTs as profile pictures, everything but their real selves. The metaverse enables interoperability within different virtual ecosystems, meaning that individuals in that space can have one digital identity or multiple ones. This space has no borders, and is becoming the bigger reality for younger generations. Do we want to engage with them? It’s now time to consider their digital self as their equally true self.
The metaverse is becoming a new marketing channel in a fight for higher engagement, and some companies who have gone all-in with this trend are on a quest to get more real. The trick here is that to achieve that, they are even including inside cameras on VR headsets, which extract data from the user to predict their emotional state. These same facial recognition abilities are then used for third parties to feed ads accordingly. But do we really need to lose our privacy in order to get more accurate ads?
In immersive, extended environments, there are a whole new suite of questions about how we project and protect our identities, in a world where the avatar you are chatting with is actually an embodied advert for a product or service, or where the car you see driving past in your mixed reality glasses may actually be the exact car that you had been thinking about buying and...how did "they" know?!
Is it really the only way to go? Not exactly. There are alternative solutions. What if we rethink the metaverse as a community building space without VR in order to limit the face recognition data? What if we use the metaverse as a new ecosystem where brands can build their digital presence from scratch or create a digital twin and a space for testing and prototyping? What if we shift towards metaverses like Decentraland, based on Web3 principles, which enable users to have ownership of their content through decentralization? These new spaces should be a pathway to digital democracy in order to enable their users to freely play, socialize, and hopefully learn and work in those spaces without having to compromise their ethics and privacy.
Let’s first review how “the machine” works. Interest, behaviors and demographics shape our digital identity. All clicks and views are tracked and feed our profile. Paid media campaigns are based on digital identity of the core target and its friends through the use of lookalike audiences. This enables personalization and scoring based on digital actions.
The inflection point is usually on the expectations side. On the one hand, we have the institutions who want a higher ROI of their digital marketing actions. On the other hand, we have some students/parents who want more privacy, while others want more personalization.
At NEO, we find ourselves at a crossroads where digital marketing doesn't match ethics. Cookies and pixels go against privacy preservation. Our clients want to reach their targets and recur to us for their paid media campaigns among others, but we're constantly looking for more sustainable and ethical ways to deliver results without extracting much from the end user (student), and therefore being more aligned with younger generation's expectations.
And we’re not the only ones with that concern. Even now, on the everyday, regular ol' internet, 3rd party cookies are disappearing, and the ability to track individual users across the web is being phased out by big players like Google who say that they "don’t believe these solutions will meet rising consumer expectations for privacy, nor will they stand up to rapidly evolving regulatory restrictions, and therefore aren’t a sustainable long term investment. Instead, our web products will be powered by privacy-preserving APIs which prevent individual tracking while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers". As Google's Chrome browser is used for two thirds of web searches, this effectively signals the end of the tracking cookie (by late 2023).
So how do we deliver results without squeezing the end user and steamrolling any sense of privacy? How do we build in ROI to our approach whilst staying ahead of a rapidly changing technological and regulatory landscape?
Our clients still want to reach their target and get results from their investment. That will not change. However, a new generation of users have different expectations of privacy, and are engaging with us on new channels and in new spaces within this hyper-connected society.
A new privacy preserving approach is required and the consequence will be lower quantity but hopefully higher quality advertising and marketing. One of the ways of tracking engagement of personalised ads in this new space, is known as Zero Knowledge Advertising (ZKA).
The newest legislations are gearing towards privacy-preserving solutions. Applying this to digital marketing, makes us think of an ideal being privacy-preserving, personalised, targeted ads. The question is, how can we enable tracking in an ethical way?
Through Zero Knowledge Advertising, users get personalised ads without sharing their data with third parties nor revealing their identity. Let's look at two examples to better understand existing applications of this concept:
A slightly different angle on this is Consent-Based Advertising (CBA), where you can configure the level of permissions you are willing to give, in return for a reward system based on interaction (watch, click, etc) and in exchange for data. This does require activation from the user on which personal data items they want to share with which advertiser. Such approach is based on self-declared information, which would technically entail more accuracy on ads match based on a user ID. In this case, the digital wallet becomes the unique identifier. Effectively, users are being compensated for agreeing to receive engagement from marketing services around products or services that might be of their interest. A total shift in control.
As we saw and heard from our discussions at ICEF Berlin 2022, our sector of education marketing and recruitment is yet to unwrap an era of marketing with a new mindset of consent-based recommendations, meaning lower quantity but higher quality, and above all achieving privacy preserving and high targeting ads.
This however raises some questions. How do we plan targeted adverts when we can not track personalised data? What do our engagement strategies have to look like to actually make prospective students want to engage with us, and who do we partner with to ensure this is done with integrity and an appropriate level of reward for allowing us to engage?
A whole new psychology of marketing is upon us right now, and we can see how challenging it is for our colleagues in the sector. The new digital world is one of community, and one where users and content creators have far more control, more rights and more leverage. We will return in more detail to the topic of Zero Knowledge Advertising, as we gather more feedback from partners and clients on the challenges they are facing in adaptation.
For now, let us say that we are ready to help and support our colleagues and peers out there in making this shift, and in hitting the ground running for the forthcoming academic year. From capacity building of your marketing and admissions teams, to optimising processes and designing new strategies of approach, NEO is here for you.
A 2022 report by LinkedIn began with the CEO, Ryan Roslansky, stating that there is a "massive shift underway in the global economy". He was not only talking about the "great reshuffle" where business models and ways of working are being totally upended, but also about the need to green the economy and for education to support the development of the green skills that are needed to do this.
Green skills, this report tells us, are the skills needed to make economic activity environmentally sustainable. The examples it gives of the most prominent green skills are in things like renewables and environmental systems like pollution prevention. This is what so many people think of when someone says "green skills", and feel that it only applies to jobs like engineers tinkering with wind turbines.
Not so, and here's where we differ somewhat from the view of Mr Roslansky: all jobs are, in fact, green jobs.
A green job is actually, we would argue, is just a job. From cleaner to carpenter, designer to DJ, we all need skills related to sustainability. The LinkedIn report does go some way towards making this point, by listing sectors by "green intensity". While that sounds like a St Patrick's Day cocktail, it actually means the extent to which "green skills" are required to perform that role.
In their sector overview, LinkedIn report that the jobs with the highest Green intensity are in corporate services, manufacturing, mining and design. At the bottom of the scale, the jobs with the least green intensity are to be found in the arts, legal, entertainment and wellness. This ties in with the thinking of the Institute For Apprentices (IFA) in the UK, which has designed a very useful framework which could be applied to any institution-employer partnership, with the objective of helping them to improve sustainability, and to embed this in the learning process to support sustainability objectives.
The IFA categorises these as light green/mid-green/dark green roles. Light green roles are those which do not really change in nature when sustainability requirements are introduced. An example of this would be a hair stylist, who would essentially be carrying out the same tasks, but might consider things like refillable shampoos and energy efficiency measures.
Mid green roles are those which remain much the same but might require the embedding of new knowledge, skills or behaviours to enable the learner to use new approaches. An example of this would be a heating engineer, who would be expected to learn how to install more energy efficient technologies such as heat pumps in the future, as opposed to traditional gas boilers.
Dark green roles are the more traditional “green jobs” where sustainability is already at the core of the job. Renewable energy technicians are an example of this.
There is a green skill that is not often talked about: the ability to support sustainability strategy. Let's take an example. A university has decided it needs to cut emissions by 70% before 2040, and has circulated the glossy (digital, we hope!) strategy papers and filtered down KPIs and action points to departmental heads. Great.
The thing is that the next steps depend on buy-in. The admissions team are of course aware of climate change, but have they been properly supported to identify where their emissions are really coming from? When they are asked to reduce air travel, cut down on paper, monitor energy efficiency and reduce waste, are they to only do what is asked of them?
Have they been properly engaged in exploring the connection between their activity and the global issues it contributes to? Do they feel empowered to actually make a difference, or is this tokenism? Does their understanding of emissions sources help them actually come up with new ideas that only they will see through their unique perspective?
The "green job" might be said to be the departmental head or sustainability officer, but it really depends on every single person to make it work. When nobody is looking, only the integrity that comes from true awareness will ensure that each person does the right thing and supports the overall strategy. That buy-in comes from training, reflection, discussion, engagement and empowerment. Every job is a green job in a sustainable future.
LinkedIn finds that "Younger green talent are in pole position" to take advantage of huge job opportunities in a labour market that increasingly prizes sustainability skills. There is a growth rate in demand for green skills of about 40% between 2015 and 2021, and as countries race to meet net-zero targets, this will climb far more steeply. Regardless of how much a company is actually doing about meeting sustainability targets, you can bet they are already thinking about doing more. In the job interview, the candidate who shows she understands the issues at play, and how to support the solutions within an organisation, will surely be two steps ahead of the rest.
Much work is underway across primary, secondary, tertiary and professional education and training to prepare learners for “a Green Industrial Revolution” as the UK Government wrote in its 2020 strategy paper. The current situation, however, shows that progress is not uniform.
A large study by the Education and Training Foundation in 2021 found that in the Further Education system in the UK, while 94% of sector professionals surveyed agreed that all learners should receive education about sustainability, and 85% felt that the FE and Training sector had a significant role to play in supporting the Sustainable Development Goals, the sector was not yet meeting that responsibility. The report also found that:
We have already made our views known that institutions need to step up to the challenge of embedding sustainability in all learning pathways, but it is important to underline that this is a universal approach. Generation Alpha are coming, and even at 9 years old, 67% of the younger Alphas want to make sustainability central to their career mission. This is the generation who, more than any other, will be faced with the reality of climate change, so institutions who do not have this issue front and centre in their messaging and learning design are not meeting their needs, or the needs of a planet in ecological decay.
We must value and understand this new generation approaching us, learn to connect with them, and to ensure that our learning offer is fit for the purpose of a new generation and a new and challenging world. Every single learning pathway must be through the lens of sustainability, and thus the presence and value of this knowledge and skill set is made visible in every career pathway.
For our part, we can support your institution in repositioning your branding and messaging to reach and connect with the next generation, and to make sure that offer is heard and felt by a generation that needs to know you can help them to make a difference. Connect with us here, and let's get moving.
POV: you are a university with numerous nationalities represented in your student body. Your marketing is tailored to the cultural values of the major regions you target. When these diverse groups of students arrive, however, they are not supported to develop intercultural competence in what must be the perfect environment to learn together.
A wasted opportunity? Definitely. The OECD has set out its model of Global Competence, as a highly desirable skill for the labour market. They make the case that students need to be ready to thrive in an interconnected world, and that the rapid growth of open digital spaces such as the metaverse makes this even more pressing. They have even set out a handy questionnaire through the PISA Program to help you reflect on your own intercultural understanding; check it out if you have a minute.
Developing Global Competence is a broader model than just intercultural understanding, and also relates to information literacy, such as identifying bias and questioning information. In terms of intercultural understanding, however, they are very specific that institutions must support learners to "prepare for the world of work, which increasingly demands individuals who are effective communicators, are open to people from different cultural backgrounds, can build trust in diverse teams and can demonstrate respect for others, especially as technology continues to make it easier to connect on a global scale".
International institutions are the very best places to take a shared learning journey. We have the desire to get to know our fellow students, and to contextualise that learning process with the additional layer of understanding culture, is just too good an opportunity to miss.
Intercultural understanding goes way beyond reflecting on our own values and those of other cultures. Patterns of behaviour, nuances of language, developing true respect and openness for others; the list goes on. A recent research paper from Croatia stated that intercultural understanding is "one of the most important missions of higher education institutions across the world" and that it can help students navigate other cultures and understand which patterns of behaviour will help them more in employment in the target culture.
As the mind opens to a growing reflective awareness of our own culture, so we can develop a more fluid and international mindset. Embedded in this are the cognitive skills of self awareness and cultural knowledge, as well as the affective skills of open mindedness and curiosity. This is very much in keeping with the broader skill set needed to face a fast-changing and volatile world.
Global interconnectedness pervades everything around us, and it should therefore be present in all of our learning. That is the simple argument for the first approach, which is for institutions to embed intercultural understanding in their curriculum, strategy, communication, events etc. This is not something which happens overnight, but we have several institutions doing it well.
One of these is the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS), in Monterey, California. As you might expect from the name, they take intercultural understanding seriously. MIIS have set up an Intercultural Competence Committee who focus on "curriculum and assessment, providing preparation, resources, and reflection opportunities for domestic and international immersive learning experiences, building intercultural events for students, staff, and faculty, and cultivating partnerships across campus and beyond." Intercultural understanding is embedded in the learning, but can also be taken each year in the form of specific electives, such as "Developing Intercultural Training in Organizations"
Critically, MIIS ensures that all new students have access to learning spaces where their diverse learners can explore empathy, cultural tension, values and norms in a nonjudgmental way, supported by an expert facilitator. Their interactions from then on as a diverse student body also provide an experiential learning and reflection opportunity.
The second approach is perhaps a good first step for institutions looking to provide better intercultural understanding support, before they can work towards fully integrating it across their curriculum and strategy. The UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School in Dublin, Ireland, offer an Intercultural Development Programme to all students. They state that the "ICD programme will strengthen your CV and give you an edge over graduates from other Business programmes in the global job market, "which seems like a solid point.
The ICD, you see, does not isolate intercultural understanding, but fuses it with the development of critical thinking, team working, conflict management, critical thinking, creativity and more. These are the magic words to employers who want teams that can work across cultures, respect and value diversity, and be open to critical reflection. Inclusive companies are nearly twice as innovative as their blander, vanilla counterparts.
Students go to higher education institutions to gain skills and knowledge that will help them with the careers and passions they have set their sights on. Since the pandemic, the prevalence of digital and flexible working models has increased sharply, and according to a PWC report, this makes intercultural understanding a mission-critical employability skill. The British Council found that IU was as important as formal qualifications for employers.
The future-proof institution really needs to get both hands around the provision of intercultural understanding. Start with a dedicated course for all students, and a chance to learn together. Build in an international perspective to all courses from biology to engineering, because no profession is immune to collaboration across cultures if it wants to serve a modern society. Work with employers to see how internships and graduate feedback can be used to improve the intercultural understanding provision, and build the capacity of staff (academic and administrative) in intercultural understanding before building partnerships outside.
This takes time, but if we have learned anything in our work with institutions around the world at NEO Academy, there is a whole community out there ready to support and advise you. To talk to us about broadening your international reach and tailoring your marketing in diverse cultural markets, just click here.