Canadian universities will soon have a national marketing tool to help them in their efforts to recruit more foreign students.
The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada unveiled a marketing campaign for international education developed jointly by the federal, provincial and territorial governments.
The campaign includes a logo – a stylized Canadian Maple Leaf – with the tagline, “Imagine: Education au/in Canada.”
Kelly Lamrock, New Brunswick’s education minister and CMEC chair, said the new logo will allow governments and postsecondary institutions to use a common approach when recruiting students abroad, a move that is expected to help Canada compete more effectively for a greater share of international students.
Canada’s recruitment efforts have improved over the past decade, said Mr. Lamrock, but other countries continue to compete for the same students.
“Some of you may be asking how much work did it really take to agree on a Maple Leaf,” Mr. Lamrock quipped at a news conference held in Fredericton in late September to unveil the logo.
“In many ways the Maple Leaf still stands as the first symbol in people’s minds that represents what Canada is about.” The tagline is meant to evoke thoughts of the possibilities and potential that studying in Canada can achieve, he added.
The campaign was created by Bang Marketing of Montreal and will be included on brochures and other marketing materials that postsecondary institutions and provinces use to recruit foreign students.
The campaign was meant to be launched jointly by CMEC and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, but because of the fall election campaign, federal officials weren’t able to take part.
The new marketing strategy isn’t meant to replace the promotional items used by institutions and provinces, said Raymond Théberge, CMEC director general, in an interview with University Affairs.
Rather, it’s meant to be used in conjunction with them, to put Canada at the forefront of international student recruitment efforts. He said marketing studies have shown that foreign students are familiar with Canada but less so with its provinces.
“The first thing we have to do is sell Canada as a brand,” he said. “Once we have that established in the foreign psyche, then it becomes more of a competitive issue between the institutions.”
Pari Johnston, director of international relations with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, said, “The brand is something we have long advocated, to assist our members’ efforts in recruiting top talent from abroad. We look forward to seeing how the federal government will build on this with a strong marketing campaign.”
The new logo will be used initially by the federal, provincial and territorial governments. Colleges and universities will have to wait until the two levels of government come up with a list of institutions authorized to use the brand and with criteria governing its use, sometime in 2009.
“It’s very important that we make sure that only reputable institutions such as AUCC members are allowed to use the brand,” said Dr. Théberge. “We have to ensure the quality of the brand so that when it’s out there, the only thing that comes to mind is quality education.”
He acknowledged there were “challenges” in coming up with a logo that was acceptable to all the governments and that works in both official languages. The bilingual logo is also meant to emphasize that students can study in both English and French.
He said the introduction of the national marketing strategy, in the works for more than a year, will help close the gap between Canada and other countries when it comes to recruiting international students. In 2007, the top five host countries were the U.S., Britain, France, Germany and China.