These are not the times to sit back and wait for guidance from committees. Constantly, we’re told they’re unprecedented times. Janus believes that winners will develop a reimagined recruitment model, have it examined, modified by expert opinion, and approved by the authorities. It is the time to be independent and entrepreneurial.

The Registrar, unlike so many of the staff, has the ear of the Principal and/or the Business Manager. When the enrolment starts to collapse, that influence becomes even more important. The COVID crisis will have real consequences for most schools either for their international enrolment or for the child whose place is paid for by the second income, usually a primary enrolment. When enrolments disappear, the school will usually try to replace or plan to downsize. In this, my first blog on the issue, I will propose that an extraordinary opportunity to reimagine the service that the school can offer international students, exists. If managed well, the school should expect to significantly expand its international enrolment. The second blog, in this series, will consider a similar chance that exists to secure, even expand, the primary enrolment.

Internationally, Australia offers so much in the POST COVID world particularly for the parent who will spend to provide their child with the best of educational opportunities. Australia is not racked with the COVID risks as its previous competitors are and are likely to remain so. Australia offers quality secondary and tertiary education equal to the world’s best. Melbourne University, as but one example, was ranked this year with Cambridge University by the Times survey. The broader society and culture offer equally in research, medicine, industry and government, international and regional relations and trade. More, it remains safe and culturally diverse, and increasingly, aware of the value of our international students to our national identity both now and in the future.

The opportunity to reimagine the service the school can offer the international student is extraordinary. It should be grasped now. It may not come again.

 A ‘complete care’ package can be established from arranging transportation, a quarantine entry/orientation ‘funnel’ through to the educational program and then graduation, either from your school or from a tertiary institution. Boarding schools or those who use a ‘Home Stay’ approach, can make the challenges facing these youngsters, less daunting. Most schools already have the physical resources to enable a reinvented ‘complete care’ package to be instituted within which the international student can flourish. Some additional staff may need to be employed but the profitability of the program will remain.

One example of an available ‘unused’ physical resource for the quarantine funnel. School camps, with all their living facilities, lie empty and lonely for the long holidays. They are well capable of providing a fine setting for a brilliant “Summer Orientation School” for the international cohort entering your school. A complete educational three to four week program built around an ‘all you need to know’ curriculum conducted in English with experienced teachers, counsellors and mentors, drawn from your previous international graduates, can be put in place. The program would include an experienced hygienist to ensure that each new student understands and owns the cleanliness regimen. More, the wellness, stress management and fitness team from your Health Centre could round out the program.

Then, the school experience can be augmented by the increased knowledge of your international cohort.  A more empathetic, caring orientation program can be conceived. On such understanding, your ‘complete care’ package can be extended across the years the international students are under the school’s tutelage to become something unique, special and long lasting. This can be done by nurturing of the resources you will already have in your school community. Your resident international student community can meet so many of an exchange program’s objectives you have for most local students to everyone’s mutual benefit, especially in the next years when international travel will be truncated. They can be showered with the status and care usually reserved for the visiting international students. Such responsibilities and status can be presented by the Registrar to give a competitive edge.

You will probably be able to find that management can reinvent aspects of current practice for similar purpose. There will be the opportunity for reinvention in your bursary and fee assistance programs, your health centre provision and practice, your parental and agent liaison systems, in counselling and wellness programs, and in expanded recruitment and alumni influence. As a consequence, expect a dramatic injection of strength into your word-of-mouth, reputation and standing, both nationally and internationally.

The brilliant school becomes inventive when confronted with threats to its established practice. Hegel reveals an eternal truth that the seeds of an organization’s ‘new normal’ will always lie dormant in its current practice. The entrepreneurial mind will examine what currently exists that can be done so much better and build these improvements into a reinvention plan. When that plan has been perfected, it can become the school’s next chapter of improved practice, its new mission. We simply cannot sit around and wait for the ‘good old days’ to return. The registrar can and should be one of the change-drivers in this reinvention.

Tony Conabere, BA, B.Ed, MBA, FACEL.

Janus Consulting

September, 2020.