Spotlight on Europe 2017: How can Spanish institutions attract prospective international students?

Spotlight on Europe 2017: How can Spanish institutions attract prospective international students?


From the fast paced modern life of Madrid, Gaudi architecture and buzzing nightlife of Barcelona, to the beaches of Valencia and the charm of Seville, Spain has something to offer just about everyone. Throw in the sun, tapas and a bottle of rioja and you’ve got a winning combo – and I’m not the only one that thinks so, as Spain is one of the most popular study destinations for international students.

It does however have one of the most complex higher education sectors in Europe, and has experienced some turbulence recently due to numerous government reforms and well-publicised austerity measures.

There has been some pretty radical restructuring to the education system of late. LOMCE – a regulation also know as Werts Law (after the Education Minister that created it) included increasing tuition fees, cutting scholarships by $50m, increasing class sizes, and cutting teacher salaries. Unfortunately for Wert, he swiftly became very unpopular, and this education reform is widely considered to be the most unpopular law in Spain’s democratic history. Whilst it was done to try and offset the reduction in public funding, protests were aplenty and unsurprisingly, 45,000 less students enrolled in 2015 than the previous year.

Despite this, Spain will always be popular with Latin American students – what with speaking the same language and everything – especially the Colombians who comprise the largest international group enrolled in Spain institutions.

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The importance of the Spanish language in the global economy will serve the Spanish education system well by ensuring there is always demand from students who are either native Spanish speakers from one of the 20 countries that have Spanish as their official language, or those who just want to add another tick to their CV and enhance their career prospects by learning a second language – something which is often a prerequisite with leading companies across the globe. Many Spanish institutions report seeing especially strong demand from Asia, the US, and Europe.

With the global higher education market so competitive right now, there is no question that Spain will need to work hard to attract prospective international students.

Here are our top tips for engaging with students from Spain’s priority recruitment markets

Latin America

  • The quality of teaching and overall education is a priority for Latin American students so make sure you emphasise your expertise and accolades in specific subject areas.
  • Email remains strong, so a focus on data capture will allow you to look at conversion campaigns through email marketing and better inform future marketing campaigns.
  • Facebook is the most popular social media platform and is a great way to engage with both undergraduate and postgraduate students.


  • With such variation within the region, it is really important you understand the differences between each country and their online behaviours and don’t try to engage with the whole region using blanket marketing messages.
  • In China, peer reviews go a long way in convincing students of where to study so using current students as advocates or alumni case studies would be a great decision.
  • In Indonesia, students are mostly influenced by rankings, quality of teaching and awards – terms such as ‘internationally recognised’ resonate well as they want transferable qualifications


  • Return on investment is very important to students from the US, so make sure you focus on this in your marketing messages. Include details of salary impact and earning potential, and any professional networking opportunities and connections they can benefit from at your institution.
  • American students place huge importance on the student experience and the benefits studying abroad can bring to their academic, personal and professional life. Be sure to mention any extracurricular activities, clubs and societies your institution offers.
  • Highlight the attractions of your campus and surrounding area, including ease of travel to other destinations – location is very important to students from the US.

Get in touch with our team of digital experts, to learn how we can revolutionise your digital marketing strategy and generate more student enrolments for your institution.