INTO UEA, based on the University of East Anglia campus, Norwich, provides English and academic preparation for international students who want to study at a UK university. Since its establishment in 2005, INTO UEA has supported students from over 40 different countries around the world.
Despite the wide range of nationalities of students who had studied at INTO UEA, the centre had yet to successfully recruit from Brazil. Amanda Mason, INT0 UEA’s Recruitment Manager, explained her excitement at this potential opportunity, "We knew that there were over 23,000 Brazilian students studying overseas and that 70% of these students had enrolled on English language courses." Their desk research also revealed that many of the top 10 most popular undergraduate subjects for Brazilian students aligned with INTO UEA’s existing provision of foundation courses.
However the desk research could only provide basic information about the current size and potential of the opportunity. Before trying to attract Brazilian students, INTO UEA knew they needed a better understanding of the dynamics of the market and the students themselves: where were the biggest opportunities geographically, what were the students looking for in a place of study, which other institutions were they considering and why, who or what was influencing their decision and what would be the best way for INTO UEA to attract these students?
Joining UKTI’s Passport to Export programme, INTO UEA enjoyed the support of their International Trade Advisor (ITA) David Earp. It was David who suggested the Export Marketing Research Scheme (EMRS). The EMRS is a UKTI scheme providing professional advice and funding to help businesses understand the dynamics of a potential overseas market before creating an appropriate strategy for launching in this market and there is a nationwide team of professional Research Advisers to work with individual companies.
INTO UEA were thrilled with the support from their Research Adviser, Alice Mamier. In the autumn of 2011, Amanda travelled to Brazil with a full itinerary of 21 meetings across two weeks in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Each of the meetings with educational agents, academic organisations, students themselves and industry experts from British institutions, followed a structured discussion guide to ensure all the key areas were discussed.
As a result of the information obtained, INTO UEA were able to locate the cities with the largest immediate potential and those which would be worth considering in the future. During the research visit it became apparent that there was a market for the courses provided by INTO UEA, but with strong competition from North America. The visit allowed INTO UEA to determine the key influencing factors for Brazilian students choosing courses abroad which could then be used to form the core of their promotion strategy.
INTO UEA were delighted that their initial assumptions about the potential in Brazil were verified and the research findings enabled them to develop a strong campaign to appeal to their target audience. Subsequently, INTO UEA have returned to Brazil to attend relevant education fairs, ensuring they spoke to the key decision-makers for their programmes and promoted their programmes in line with their research findings. They identified key agents who could continue this process of promotion and education amongst the schools and colleges; leaflets in Portuguese were created and distributed to agents and students.
INTO UEA’s strategy is coming to fruition: their awareness and profile within the market is growing, they welcomed the first Brazilian students in the 2012 academic year and have received promising enquiries from students for the 2013 intake.
Amanda was full of praise for the Export Marketing Research Scheme, "Without EMRS we probably wouldn’t have risked visiting Brazil. The funding and support allowed us to gain a complete picture of the market situation for our courses and consequently we have been able to focus our targeted marketing and resources in the right way. I would highly recommend EMRS to anyone who is considering venturing into a new market but feeling a little tentative."