Pakistan – a potential market for student recruitment


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At this year’s ICEF Dubai Workshop, nearly 400 participants active in student recruitment in the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia gathered to network with new and current business partners as well as gain market insight via several educational seminars. One such seminar focused on the Pakistani market, given by Dr Osamah Qureshi, Director of Student Counseling Services (SCS), an agency based in Pakistan.

Dr Qureshi’s session shared tactics on how to recruit high quality students via agents and local institutions. He also pointed out several popular Pakistani cities to focus on, and the latest trends in student preferences.

ICEF Monitor presents the highlights of this presentation in the recent article "Targeted student recruitment techniques in Pakistan," which you can read here:

For more industry news, market intelligence, research and commentary for international student recruitment please visit, subscribe for daily or weekly updates, and follow us on Twitter

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Pakistan – a potential market for student recruitment

  1. 1. Dr. Osamah Qureshi, Director, Student Counseling Services, Pakistan Audience: Educators & Service Providers Pakistan – a rising market for international student recruitment
  2. 2. Some Facts  Pakistan – potential market for student recruitment  6th most populous country  54 percent of the UK’s (non-EU) international students are from Pakistan  USA - Pakistan now has the world's largest Fulbright Scholarship Program with over 200 scholarships offered to Pakistani students for advanced degrees  Population exceeding 180 million people
  3. 3. Area of 796,095 km2 (307,374 sq mi), approximately equal to the combined land areas of France and the United Kingdom. It is the 36th largest nation by total area,
  4. 4. Cities:  Sindh Karachi is its most populous city Hyderabad is second largest city  Punjab Lahore Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot Gujrat,  Capital Rawalpindi, Islamabad  KPK ( Khyber Pakhtoonwah) Peshawar
  5. 5. Pakistani Education System - a brief outline of qualifications  Most Pakistani students opt for higher education abroad after Year 12 ( HSC- Higher Secondary School) / A Levels  Now Pakistani Universities are offering 4 years Bachelors Honor Degrees  Traditional 2 years BA Degrees are still widely offered mostly at public Universities and Colleges.  Most Universities now offer 2 years Master Degrees  Accredited Universities and Colleges list can be inspected at Higher Education Commission website  136 universities, of which 74 are public universities and 62 are private universities
  6. 6. Language : English is the official language of Pakistan, used in official business, government, and legal contracts All higher education is offered in English with very few exceptions A city student usually can get an IELTS score of 5.5 or better without much difficulty. Student English proficiency is good to excellent in metropolitan cities of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, while moderate to poor in smaller cities like Gujranwala, Sialkot, Faisalabad & smaller towns / villages All students do have an access to English Language training and prep courses. Test centers are established for TOEFL IBT, IELTS, Pearson Test of English, Cambridge ESOL exams in Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan & Islamabad. Students can get dates to sit for these exams at 10-15 days advance notice. In peak times it is 2-4 weeks. Results came in 2-4 weeks. IELTS is most popular exams, although many students now opt for other exams as well.
  7. 7. Gender & Age Groups  Pakistan is a 'young' nation, with a median age of about 20 and 104 million people under 30 in 2010  Most Students travelling abroad are of age group 18 to 25 years. Post Graduate students are up to 28 years old .  90% students travelling abroad are male students. Female students prefer to apply to countries where they can live with their husbands or they have relatives.
  8. 8. Links with institutions and organizations - Establish links with local Educational institutions including Universities, Colleges, Schools, Language Schools, Technical Colleges - Instead of working on formal affiliation or MoU, its simple to start with a loose non binding agreement for mere information sharing and educational exchange - Avoid falling prey to private institutions who cannot produce results & want to use your name only - When linking take care of important points – Location, Current number of students, accreditation with HEC, programs they offer, what do they want? - Simple credit transfer arrangements are good as starting point to more complex affiliation like research cooperation & Split Degrees. - A visit to the campus of Pakistani institution is always a good idea although you can rely on HEC web site and institution web site - Most successful links in past were Split Degree programs & Credit Transfer agreements - Some examples are ;
  9. 9. Cities to focus. Language Schools, Foundation Courses, Diploma programs – Small cities and towns Undergraduate Degree programs – Large cities Post Graduate Degree programs – Karachi & large cities - 3 traditional cities are Karachi, Lahore & Islamabad. But you must add Hyderabad, Peshawar and Sialkot as well - Smaller cities are Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan, Gujrat & Abbotabd - Some cities are famous of the hot student market interested in traveling abroad i.e. - Gujrat – EU Countries & UK - Abbotabad – UK & Australia, Ireland - Peshawar – UK & Australia / NZ, Ireland - Karachi – All – Mostly Canada, USA, Australia Ireland - Sialkot – Mostly UK & Ireland - Hyderabad – Malaysia, UK - Lahore – All .
  10. 10. Best time to market • Exams of HSC ends in May – so marketing in months later can target these students • Give at least 4 months before the classes start to give sufficient time for getting an IELTS score, application, visas and decision making by families. For some countries visa takes 6 months or more How to spend and - where to spend • Spend on Digital Ads like on Facebook as you can control the budget directly • Book Exhibitions directly & get discounts on bargains • Do not send funds to third party offices as they can be misused Best way to advertise – Where to advertise • Press Ads – Three daily newspapers – Daily JANG, NEWS & DAWN • Facebook Ads • Magazines of Educational Institutions
  11. 11. Education Fairs and Expos – What to attend ? Three big fairs - DAWN Education Expo – Feb - Education & School Expo – – June - ACTEPR – Education Expo – August Career Fairs usually held at various campuses of different Universities can be a good oppertunity
  12. 12. Tips to avoid unnecessary spending • Avoid “Gold Sponsor” in Exhibitions • Avoid visits to cities & areas from where one can not get students • Large Press Ads in newspapers –These are expensive and not that affective. • Attending the Education Exhibitions through agents – Usually agents promote their own packages . • Avoid Sending large stacks of material as printing is quite cheap in Pakistan • Avoid using large number of agents – Keep the numbers less, loyal and result producing.
  13. 13. Engaging Quality agents - Use a small number of proficient agents instead of a large number of incompetent ones - Quality agents can be engaged by seeking credible references - Agents working for the last 5 years or more are likely to be active as they have survived the slow business in the last few years - Agents working with education markets of Australia Canada USA are more diversified as compare to agents working only with UK . - Please seek Press Ad record of agents as they should not be misleading - Agents running English Language training classes are more likely to recruit quality students - Agents based in metropolitan cities Lahore Karachi and Islamabad are comparatively well versed in student recruitment and visas as compare to small city agents - Seek Education Agent qualification copy as many working agents don’t even have basic qualification - Visit the agent web site, see their travel record, ask for local reference from Pakistan based offices of British Council, AUSTRADE, USEFP etc. Check if they have attended Education Fairs, do they have videos of marketing activities - Agents dealing ONLY in student counseling are more focused than agents dealing in visit, Immigration and employment based recruitment visas - Visit the Education UK Trained Agents listings
  14. 14. Sourcing out good agents - Trained Agents by Education UK - Australia PIER Registered Agents - Agents already having contracts by leading institutions - Taking references from leading bodies like British Council, AUSTRADE, CIC etc. - Agent attending ICEF and other fairs - Always note down Agent web site, Agent’s qualification, travel history and always ask for references both local and overseas Help & Support from international bodies like British Council, AUSTRADE, Canadian Trade Office, US Education Foundation etc. Limited support can be taken as all these bodies are not working on full scale in public. Other sources - Institutions and Universities - English Language training and testing centers - Career counselors at leading schools and Universities
  15. 15. Career , Job and Family Fairs in Pakistan - A new trend - Leading Universities hosting their own Job Fairs - Family fairs attract large gatherings Current Trends - New Zealand. Also Malaysia South Korea Turkey & CYPRUS - Increase in trend towards Australia/ NZ, Ireland, CANADA - Malaysia TURKEY are gaining popularity - UK trend is at lower end but still its attracting good numbers
  16. 16. Most and Least popular subjects - Most popular subjects are Business, Accounting, Finance, Hotel management, Engineering, ACCA/ CIMA, English Language Foundation Courses, Computing - Least popular are school studies, health sciences, art / design, law etc. Important Cities and areas to recruit quality students - Larger cities must be focused Karachi, Hyderabad, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar - Smaller cities like Faisalabad, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Multan, Gujrat are equally good - Some cities must be focused like Abbottabad, Mirpur etc. Basic concerns of a Pakistani student and his family - Location / City - Pricing, Living costs - Part time work options - Student visa options., post study route
  17. 17. Points & features Pakistani families least bother about - Facilities at campus, Sports at campus - Institution rankings worldwide Pricing , Special packages, Scholarships & Discounts - Discounts are common but anything reducing the fee is attractive - Scholarships linked with good GPA and IELTS is a good act to recruit quality students - Special package to a particular institution is also a good idea – You can work with some top institutions if such a package can be offered
  18. 18. Rewarding Agents & Support them – Best ways and worst ways • Rewarding good agents – this can be done by linking their commissions to no. of students they recruit • Those who are attaining target are always attracted towards an overseas trip to parent institution if possible • Starting commission is usually 15% with steady increase over increased recruitment. • Agents’ names on websites, Certificates, all attract the agencies Which institutions to make a link with - Private sector institutions offering at least Bachelor Degrees or higher - Universities - Vocational organizations like NAVTEC, TEVTA, Ministry of Education
  19. 19. How to link? Most affordable and quick links to start with ? Workable and Non Workable methods tested in past years in Pakistan • Simple start is a loose nonbinding MoU / agreement asking for mutual info • Always target direct recruitment of students • Credit transfer agreement and split degree programs are taking time to start so put them aside for future if everything goes well • Keeping in view current security situations do not target agreements needing frequent visits • Start from institutions offering streamlined programs like EDEXEL HND, ACCA, CIMA, APTECH Diplomas etc.
  20. 20. Demanding relationships. - Direct recruitment - Scholarships to good students of selected institution - Waiver for IELTS - If possible credit transfer Some working examples - COMSATS Lancaster Double Degree - APTECH Middlesex Credit Transfer - TEVTA
  21. 21. What about MoU and Affiliations? Once started with simple arrangement, a formal MoU or Affiliation can be worked for.
  22. 22. SCS - Student Counseling Services – - Recruiting from Pakistan since 2001 – 12 years of service - Trained agents by Education UK, registered with PIER Australia - Professional partner of IELTS, PTE Pearson Test of English Academic & Testing center for - Cambridge ESOL examinations – Running an English Language school Institute of Career Development – - 6 Offices around Pakistan - Hosting Education Fairs & Exhibitions, Career Fairs and recruiting events. Visit - Our next 5th Education & School Expo is on 8-12 June 2013 You can contact me at or SKYPE: scspakistan1
  23. 23. Dr Osamah Qureshi Director Student Counseling Services Institute of Career Development PAKISTAN E: M: +92-300-8425011 Skype: scspakistan1 Student recruitment, English Language training and Education Exhibitions