Finding opportunity in shrinking education markets through enabling partners’ leadership


An increasing number of education systems in the Asia–Pacific, Europe and beyond confront challenges of downscaling and intensified domestic competition caused by declining demographics and/or stagnant economies. Such shrinkage may discourage Australian institutions from engagement with these markets. Yet through a strategy of helping well-selected in-country partner institutions, through win-win knowledge sharing, to enhance capabilities in program design and manage international mobility and even governance practices, sustainable opportunities with modest resource commitment are attainable. Becoming a partner that enables local institutions to aim for sectoral leadership in educational innovation is key. The presentation reports lessons from an ongoing cross-regional study of downsizing higher education systems, funded by a Japanese KAKEN research grant. It also profiles particular cases of successful partnership strategies by Australian institutions, both universities and secondary schools, in the Japanese market.

Learning objectives

The session will:

*map concisely, through key metrics, countries that exhibit shrinkage or stagnation in the scale of their secondary and higher education systems

*highlight that while increased domestic competition between institutions inhibits opportunities for Australian providers to direct recruit students, a subset of such markets nonetheless present opportunities

*demonstrate how marketing strategies need to centre on partnering with domestic institutions in ways that strengthen their own capability for leadership, rather than threaten their market position further

*draw lessons from illuminating case studies of Australian institutional success stories in the Japanese market

*situate the analysis in a more general account of the types of institutional commitment that are required on the Australian side to make such partnerships work. 

Prof. Christopher Pokarier, Waseda University


Waseda University

Christopher Pokarier is a professor in the School of International Liberal Studies, Waseda University, Japan. He has undergraduate and master’s degrees in journalism and government from The University of Queensland and a PhD from the Australian National University. Before joining Waseda in 2004 he was senior lecturer in international business at Queensland University of Technology, Australia. Professor Pokarier teaches courses on corporate communication design, creative industries, enterprise and governance (comparative capitalisms). He also teaches workshops on negotiation at both Waseda and Keio universities. In addition to his faculty roles, he served for 10 years as Counsellor in Waseda’s International Division, advising on the development and management of study abroad programs. His core research interests centre on place branding, the future of the university campus in a virtual age, higher education marketisation in comparative perspective, and the challenges presented by downsizing education systems (funded by a JSPS Kaken grant).