Exploring emerging student markets: a Canadian perspective  | IDP Connect Canada Skip to main content

Reliance on a small pool of international student markets can be risky business. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that market behaviours of all varieties can be notoriously hard to predict. Institutions that rely on a broad spectrum of source markets are much better placed to ensure stable growth and movement across their portfolios. Not only is a diversified portfolio bound to lead to less volatility and higher returns, but it also means that campuses are filled with a more diverse international student body, which in turn enriches the student experience for both domestic and international students.

The volatility of student demand

In this article, we will explore some of the emerging markets for Canadian institutions to consider as part of their marketing and recruitment strategies. Using our IQ Demand Tracker tool, which tracks the search behaviours of millions of prospective students from around the world, we looked at demand from source markets for Canada over the last two years. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on a select range of markets: Nigeria, Turkey and Indonesia. Also note, that India is normally the dominant source market for Canada, but we have excluded in this article to keep the focus on emerging markets.

 20 July 2019- 20 July 2021 (source market demand for Canada, excl. India).

Demand from Nigeria

Coming in second position, Nigeria showed steady demand for Canada. At its peak, it claimed 10.72% of market share (near the beginning of the 2-year period shown in the graph), before dropping gradually to 5.11% at the end of the period. When looking at the destination countries most researched by Nigerian prospective students, the Demand Tracker tool shows that Canada holds the vast majority of demand with 47.76% of share, followed by the UK with 25.98%. Demand for the UK, however, is on an upward trajectory, which means that Canadian institutions need to work strategically to maintain the high levels of demand from Nigeria.

20 July 2019- 20 July 2021 (destination searches from Nigeria) 

Nigeria is undoubtedly a market to nurture. Its growing middle class, large youth demographic and relatively limited number of higher education institutions in country make Nigeria an ideal student market for destinations such as Canada. Thus far, Canada has done well to offer scholarships, post-study pathways, ease of applying for visas and conveying messages of being welcome and inclusive. However, to maintain a firm hold on market share, Canadian institutions should tailor their marketing campaigns according to what prospective students are researching. City demand in Nigeria Through Demand Tracker, institutions can dive into regional demand within Nigeria for different subjects to guide their marketing campaigns. To give a glimpse of some of the insights available on the tool, the graph below shows that Lagos has the majority share of demand from Nigeria and that Health and Medicine is the most researched subject area. More granular analyses are available via the tool.

City demand in Nigeria for Canada 

Demand from Turkey 

Turkey is another prominent source market for Canada. It grew from having 3.91% of market share near the beginning of the 2-year period to a peak of 11.41% in December 2020. Since then, it’s gradually dropped to 5.61%. It is clear that demand from Turkey for Canada is strong, but the recent decline may indicate that Canadian institutions need to put extra effort into marketing initiatives to maintain momentum. Over the last 20 years, Turkey has seen impressive economic growth, leading to increased employment and incomes and more prospective students looking to broaden their horizons at foreign universities. Other key destination markets such as the UK and US are also successfully vying for the Turkish market, making it even more imperative for Canada to drive recruitment campaigns tailored to the needs of prospective students in cities across Turkey. City Demand in Turkey Unsurprisingly, within Turkey, Istanbul has 37.89% of market share, followed by Ankara (13.08%), Izmir (8.61%) and a broad variety of other Turkish cities. For these top Turkish cities, Health & Medicine is the most researched subject area, followed by Engineering and Technology, and Applied and Pure Sciences. When drilling further down into Health & Medicine, we can see that Psychology and Medicine are the top 2 most popular searches. Canadian institutions can use this type of information to customize city-targeted recruitment campaigns to drive conversion of more Turkish students.

City demand in Turkey for Canada

Demand from Indonesia

While Indonesia comes in 8th position for Canada demand, it is a market full of possibility. Demand for Canada has been steady and consistent over the last 2 years with a slight incline. To drive more demand from Indonesia, institutions need to work innovatively, as many excellent regional universities in nearby countries such as Singapore and China successfully recruit Indonesian students. Canadian institutions should focus on available scholarships, post-study work opportunities and destination attractions. Indonesia is one of the world’s most populous countries with 50% of the population under the age of 30. It also has a fast-growing middle class and is seeing a rise in prospective students looking to foreign shores for higher education opportunities. Tapping further into this market would be a very wise strategic move. City demand in Indonesia Jakarta has the highest share of demand (29.68%) of all Indonesian cities for higher education in Canada. While the temptation may be to concentrate marketing efforts solely on this dominant market, Indonesia has many other cities worth nurturing too. Surabaya, for instance, is a city of nearly 3 million citizens and has 11.3% of overall market share. The key to effectively targeting these markets is to understand what prospective students from these different cities are researching and interested in. Through the IQ Demand Tracker tool, we’re able to drill into these details. Marketing efforts should be guided by these types of trends and tailored accordingly.

City demand in Indonesia for Canada 

Data-led insights for portfolio development 

Other emerging markets worth exploring include Mexico, Vietnam and Colombia. All these markets appear in the top ten for Canada demand. These insights offer a glimpse into the wide spectrum of untapped opportunities available to institutions. Using data-led insights that highlight the nuanced interests of prospective students in different countries and cities around the world, Canadian institutions can strategically engage with new markets and gradually diversify their portfolios. IQ services

Get in touch with our client team at canada.info@idp-connect.com to discover how your institution can use our IQ services, including Demand Tracker, for more detailed data-led insights and support on strategic portfolio development.

Franki Clemens23 August 2021

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