From Memberanda, Summer 2011
To expand your horizons in international recruiting, consider resource-rich Central Asia. As the countries of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan amass new wealth related to the export of gas and oil, their citizens are beginning to recognize the benefits of a foreign education for their children. This fall, boarding schools from across North America will be enrolling students from these two countries.
Though Kazakhstan sends more applicants to schools, Azerbaijan is no stranger to the boarding school world. Most private schools in Baku lose two thirds of their students after 8th grade to the U.K. boarding school market. British schools are well established in Azerbaijan and have consistently recruited there for more than a decade. Over the past two years, however, Canadian, U.S., and Swiss schools have been seeing strong gains. Though many North American schools are not yet familiar with Azerbaijan, its economics are impressive. Azerbaijan had the fastest GDP growth on the planet for three consecutive years (2006-2009). Also, with a GDP of $87 billion and only 8.5 million residents, there is a strong market among families who can afford the tuition costs and understand the value-added in a boarding school education.
Although families in these countries tend to be wealthy and sophisticated, they are often unfamiliar with what a boarding school offers, especially outside the classroom. Envisioning their children as the next generation of their country’s leaders, these newly affluent parents want to be sure their children are well protected, but also given the best education and leadership skills possible. The agent market has developed quickly in the Kazakhstan city of Almaty. One can easily have a full day of visits with agents who speak English and have been educated in the U.K. and North America. In the new capital city of Astana, recruitment agencies are still in their infancy, and visits to advising centers and schools are a must. Azerbaijan has few agents, though each semester more are being established in and around the city of Baku. School visits in both public and private schools are a necessity there, and doing research in advance and selecting the proper institutions will be key to success in this complex but potentially profitable market.
Boarding schools are looking to expand outside traditional Asian markets for a variety of reasons, but often it is to further diversify their student population. Unique Asian markets that have started to offer opportunities for U.S. recruiters are Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan. Uzbekistan and Mongolia have also started to see some movement, though it remains small.
Some important markets where we’ve found recruitment tours heading in the coming year are:
Mexico • Colombia • Venezuela • Brazil • Ghana • Nigeria • Russia • Ukraine • Georgia • Azerbaijan • Kazakhstan • Turkey • Qatar • Kuwait • Philippines • Korea • Indonesia • Germany
Linden Boarding School Tours (www.lindentours.com) makes numerous school and agent visits and holds fairs in Kazakhstan twice a year.