Telling the story to your internal stakeholders

Public Relations

Telling the story to your internal stakeholders

How to share the story of your international education programme with staff, board members, students and other internal stakeholders

YOU WILL LEARN

  • What you have to gain from sharing your story
  • The broader value of international education
  • Practical ideas for engaging with stakeholders
Start this project Takes up to 10 minutes
Beginner
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Introduction

Gaining the support of internal stakeholders is important and helps your international programme reach its potential.

Try these suggested ways to highlight the financial, social, cultural and educational contributions students from other countries make to your institution.

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Why share your story?

It can be challenging to tell staff, students or other stakeholders about your international programme.

You may feel you don’t have the time, or you may not know where to start.

But there’s a lot to be gained.

Sharing your success stories can:

  • Turn your wider team into advocates of your international programme

  • Keep the lines of communication with stakeholders open, making it easier to work together when the pressure is on

  • Ensure international staff feel supported and included

  • Create a more welcoming and supportive environment for visiting students. The way staff treat visiting students has a huge impact on an institution’s reputation. For example, visiting students who sit at the back of a classroom and are not integrated into the student body will have a very different experience to those who are fully integrated and treated the same as domestic students

Success is best when it’s shared

Howard Schultz Former Starbucks CEO

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The benefits of international education

Students in the library

International education brings many advantages to institutions.

International education brings new perspectives and new ideas into our classrooms, improves our research capabilities, and deepens our connections with other parts of the world.

Learning alongside students from other countries helps prepare domestic students for the future. For example, your international programme will give students the opportunity to develop international skills such as the ability to interact well with people from different cultures – a skill increasingly in demand by employers.

Fees and living expenses from visiting students provide resources for staff and the wider school. They’re also a financial boost to local communities.

It’s a great story that deserves to be told.  

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Make it meaningful

When you’re engaging with internal stakeholders, ask yourself: what’s in it for them? What do they want to know?

Their primary interest is likely to be how the international programme benefits domestic students.

Bring stakeholders along on the journey by drawing attention to the contribution visiting students make to domestic students and to your institution.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place

George Bernard Shaw Playwright

 

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Choose a channel

What’s the best way to reach your audience?

Potential channels include:

  • Staff meetings

  • Internal emails

  • Staff updates

  • Noticeboards

  • Assemblies

  • Board meetings

  • Events

  • Intranet

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Telling the story to staff

Ideas:

  1. Recognise and celebrate staff members who go out of their way to be inclusive – international students want to be treated just the same as domestic students

  2. Share updates internally on positive outcomes of your international education programme for domestic students

  3. Share stories about successful international alumni

  4. Don’t shy away from talking about the fact that international education gives your institution a financial boost, but make sure you also reference other ways that your institution and local students benefit from international education

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Telling the story to the head of your institution

Ideas:

  1. Showcase the ways your international programme benefits domestic students and the community

  2. Emphasise that it’s not just about the money – objectives may vary between institutions. For rural schools, cultural engagement might be an important outcome

  3. Stress the importance of taking a student-centric approach towards international education. One school developed an art course to enable Swedish students to meet their scholarship requirements

  4. Highlight the need to treat marketing trips as a way to build long-term relationships, rather than as a recruitment drive with immediate results

  5. Share stories about successful international alumni

For all audiences, consider the context before using the term ‘international students’ – in some situations it may make it harder for them to integrate. If it’s necessary to point out that students are from elsewhere, it may be preferable to describe them as ‘visiting students’, ‘students from other countries’ or ‘students from [country of origin]’.  

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Telling the story to boards

Ideas:

  1. Suggest the head of the international department writes a regular, detailed report to the board, submitted either personally or via the head of your institution. The report should always emphasise why your institution has an international programme

  2. Keep reports to the board short, sharp and focused on how the international programme is making your institution a better place. For example, ‘A group of students are heading to visit our sister school in China, which will lead to...’

  3. Advocate to have an international portfolio holder on the board – ideally a board member with strong financial skills. Have the head of the international department meet the international portfolio holder once a month

  4. Suggest that your top students, who have had/are having an international learning experience, give a presentation to the board once a year

  5. Share stories about successful international alumni

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Telling the story to domestic students

5079 MtAsp 0104

Ideas:

  1. Acknowledge domestic students who support visiting students – for example, by volunteering as buddies, international prefects or peer tutors. Some institutions provide a reference letter detailing students’ leadership abilities and cultural competence, which can be useful when students apply for study or work

  2. Encourage domestic students to share their experiences of trips overseas to broaden New Zealanders’ understanding of outbound international education

  3. Ask domestic students to interview international students about their experiences in New Zealand. Share the results through your internal channels

  4. Share stories about successful international alumni

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Extra resources

See Intellilab for a report that evidences the value of international education to New Zealand.

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Summary

  • Do share the financial benefits of having an international programme but balance this by also sharing the social, cultural and educational outcomes

  • Celebrate examples of inclusivity

  • Raise the international department’s profile with the board

  • Use your channels to consistently highlight the reason your institution has an international programme

  • Acknowledge domestic students who support international students - this brings mutual benefits

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