Ukraine International Student Education
Canada is the U.S.’ primary competitor in recruiting Ukrainians to study in primary and higher education programs.
With nearly 5.7 million students in a country the size of Texas, Ukraine is among the largest and most talented international student market in Europe. According to UNESCO, Ukraine has an adult literacy rate of 99.97%.
Despite its track record in producing talented, literate students, over the last twenty years Ukraine’s educational system has suffered, which in turn has caused increasing numbers of students to look for study abroad programs. According to Ukrainian think tank CEDOS, the number of Ukrainian international students has tripled since 2009 and reached 83,000 in 2017/2018. The most attractive countries to study are Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Russia, Canada, USA, Spain, Austria, and France. According to UNESCO, the outbound mobility ratio tripled since 2012 and reached 4.6 percent in 2017.
Ukrainians dominate the international population in Poland, more than half of all international students, and in Bulgaria, more than 30 percent of the international student body. This is due to lower costs and having a diploma that is valid in the whole European Union.
The most popular destinations for prospective students looking for high quality education are Canada, followed by the U.K, the U.S., and Western Europe. When selecting a country, Ukrainians base their decisions on a country’s reputation for helping a student with career preparation and the strength of a country’s overall education system. When comparing schools, prospective students consider first the quality and then the cost of tuition.
Ukrainian International Students in the U.S.
According to the most recent Open Doors Report by the Institute of International Education, about 2,000 Ukrainian students went to the U.S. to study in 2018-2019. Half pursue bachelor’s degrees, and 28 percent enroll in graduate programs. Due to a limited number of high-quality business education programs in Ukraine, business administration is the number one field of study followed by engineering/computer science, law, intensive English, and languages.
Ukrainian students planning to apply for top universities in the U.S. select boarding schools to prepare for their undergraduate studies. According to agents’ estimate, the number of Ukrainians studying at private secondary schools in the U.S. is about 50 annually.
In addition, in 2019-2020, 227 Ukrainian students went to study in public schools under a U.S. government-sponsored Future Exchange Leadership Program (FLEX). FLEX provides scholarship funding for students to travel to the United States, attend a U.S. high school for a full academic year, and live with a U.S. host family.
Market Entry Strategy
There are many recruiting agents in Ukraine and numerous small agencies that concentrate their efforts on serving students who plan to use their parent’s income or personal savings to pay for their education.
Regarding competition for U.S. educational institutions, according to agents, Canada is the U.S.’ primary competitor in recruiting Ukrainians to study in primary and higher education programs. According to agents, Canadian schools have been intensively promoting their programs in Ukraine for the past ten years. Promotion tactics include various promotional events, workshops, and trainings for agents in Ukraine. Other reasons for Canada’s popularity are the attainable cost of education and availability of scholarships for Ukrainians. According to the Canadian government, the number of Ukrainian students in Canada has risen by 420 percent over the past decade, from 525 in 2008 to 2,730 in 2018 (https://wenr.wes.org/2019/06/education-in-ukraine).
Even though cost is a major obstacle for Ukrainians to study in the U.S., nearly all agents report that they currently partner with U.S. schools in recruiting students. Most of them are currently satisfied with the support they receive from the U.S. institutions.
Digital Marketing Strategies
Before the pandemic, foreign educational institutions used to organize seminars, participate in education fairs, and arrange partner workshops to recruit Ukrainian students. Today, all these events have been shifted to the virtual space, but face to face communication is still essential to develop partnerships in Ukraine. Local agents are open to speaking with institution representatives online. Skype and Zoom are the most used platforms for communication while Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are the best choices for promotional purposes.
Study Abroad Trade Events in Ukraine
There are no educational trade events on a national level in Ukraine. The educational companies organize their own fairs and invite international schools to participate. The most popular events are:
DEC Study Abroad Fair - February 27, 2021
Study UA Fair - Online, 6-7 February, March 13-14, 2021
EducationUSA fair – October/November 2021 (TBD)
Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine https://mon.gov.ua/eng
American Councils Kyiv https://educationusa.state.gov/centers/american-councils-kyiv
America House Kyiv http://www.americahousekyiv.org/
Analytical Center CEDOS - http://www.cedos.org.ua/?locale=en