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The Value of Education Exports CSUB

The Value of Education Exports: Feat. California State University, Bakersfield

This episode of Export Nation explores the export journey of California State University, Bakersfield with the Extended Education and Global Outreach Divisions Dean, Dr. Mark Novak, and Yuri Sakamaki, Director of Study Abroad Programs. 

 

Podcast Transcript

[00:00:00] Gabriela Zelaya: If an education institution successfully signs a recruitment partner or another entity overseas, that will help them promote their institution and bring in international students that count towards our performance metrics, so our success is really the success of industry.

[00:00:21] Bernadette Rojas: Dr. Novak’s background coming from San Jose and over to the CSU, Bakersfield to be able to complement his previous experience and having that interaction with Gabriela and our global team leader in the San Jose area and now bringing it to the Central Valley, we could see the growth that this institution has had. It’s a wonderful opportunity for any other institution that hasn’t taken those steps to partner with the Commercial Service and see how we can help, but CSUB is a perfect example on the success in utilizing our programs, so I’m just so thankful that we’ve had this opportunity to help them grow and bring them to this point now and share their experiences.

[00:01:12] Derrick Small: On this episode of Export Nation, we explore the export journey of California State University, Bakersfield with the Extended Education and Global Outreach Divisions Dean, Dr. Mark Novak, and Yuri Sakamaki, Director of Study Abroad Programs. We are also joined by Gabriela Zelaya, Global Education team leader, and Bernadette Rojas, Director of the US Commercial Services, Bakersfield office, who provide additional context on the value and implications of education export.

Thank you, Mark and Yuri, for joining the show. I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us today. You’re actually the first education industry-related client that we’ve had on Export Nation, so very excited to dive into exporting from this standpoint. Mark, if you could start by telling us a little bit about yourself and then, Yuri, we can follow with you, and then maybe we can discuss a little bit more about the school in general and what you’ve had going on working with the US Commercial Service. Mark?

[00:02:18] Mark Novak: Hi there. I’m Dr. Mark Novak. I’m the Dean of the Extended Education and Global Outreach Division of California State University, Bakersfield. Our institution is located in the Central Valley of California.

[00:02:33] Derrick: Perfect, wonderful. Yuri, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at school.

[00:02:40] Yuri Sakamaki: Hello. My name is Yuri Sakamaki. I am the Director of Study Abroad Programs under Extended Education and Global Outreach at California State University, Bakersfield. I am originally from Japan, but I have come to this wonderful country in the US as a study-abroad student, and I liked it so much that I stayed here. Now, I help students go study abroad or help international students come to study, to California.

[00:03:14] Derrick: Wonderful. Mark, tell me how were you introduced to the US Commercial Service?

[00:03:19] Mark: Well, I know the Commercial Service for probably about 20 years, actually. Somewhere around the year 2000, I was at San Jose State University in California, and I got to know the Commercial Service there. Gabriela Zelaya I think was there at that time, or maybe shortly after that, I got to know her. The first thing I did there with the Commercial Service was the Gold Key Service, and I did that twice.

I don’t recall, because it was a while ago, exactly how I found out about it. It may have been an email coming to me or something, but once I did find out about it, I had two tours of the Commercial Service use of Gold Key, and it was terrific. It really opened up, for me, to countries— well, actually, several. I was in China for one total tour, and the second one was in Singapore. I believe that also took me into some of the parts of South Asia. I was down in Indonesia and Malaysia at that time, but it was terrific, really very valuable.

[00:04:22] Derrick: Wonderful. That was your first service, the Gold Key Service?

[00:04:28] Mark: Yes. Right.

[00:04:30] Derrick: What was the impetus for reaching out to the US Commercial Service? Was the school always attracting international students, or tell me what started the journey?

[00:04:43] Mark: Well, San Jose State it’s in the Bay Area of California, so it’s in Silicon Valley and often thought of as one of the main campuses of Silicon Valley. It’s an engine for bringing students into California and into the US from countries like China and India and mostly into those high-tech fields and particularly engineering and computer science. I was a dean there, of Extended Education and dealing with Global Outreach at that time and was needing to find a way to learn more about the markets in China and then also in Southeast Asia where we were definitely going to be seeing students.

I didn’t have any particular connections there, at that time, to those two places, so it was a great opportunity to enter those markets. The Gold Key was a way to link me with institutions there. In fact, I became very close at that time with China Daily, which is the English language part of the Chinese Government Newspaper, and for many, many years, after that, became a part of the China Daily National English Speaking Competition.

It opened me up to and my school at that time, but those whole markets there. That was my job, to do international outreach, but how you get into a market like China is a very, very big question. The Gold Key helped me do that. By the way, the people in the country, in those Gold Key situations were fantastic. They were just super helpful, friendly. In one case, the person who I found in Singapore drove me around for the day, spent the day with me, introduced me to people. I could never have figured out how to do that on my own.

[00:06:22] Derrick: Wonderful. Thank you, Mark. We have Bernadette and Gabriela on as well, and I do want you to give you each a chance to introduce yourself and just talk a little bit about what you do on a daily basis but also maybe to give a little context into what an education export means because, for me when I first joined the organization, it didn’t take long for me to get my head around it, but the concept was new to me in terms of viewing education as an export. Maybe, you could discuss that a little bit for just some of our listeners who may not be intimately familiar with the industry. You could start.

[00:07:05] Gabriela: Hi, Derrick. Thank you very much for that. This is Gabriela Zelaya, and I’m the Global Education Team Leader for the US Commercial Service. To your point, Derrick, education services are generated when the international students pay for their tuition, housing, books, and other fees to study here in the United States. Just in 2020, the Bureau of Economic Analysis quoted that Education Service Exports were ranked as the sixth-largest services export at $37.35 billion for the United States with a trade surplus of $30.85 billion.

Education service exports are a very valuable export for the US services industry. Here, at the Global Education Team within Commerce, we, of course, have a global network with offices across the United States and overseas. Of course, we support US education institutions with their partnership developments, as well as their recruitment strategies, so I’m very much happy to do so for the rest of the industry as well.

[00:08:13] Derrick: Perfect. Bernadette, you’ve worked closely with this school, in particular. Can you just introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about how the education sector functions in your region? Maybe, she’s not there right now. No worries. Mark and Yuri, back to you.

[00:08:34] Bernadette: Derrick, can you hear me?

[00:08:35] Derrick: There you go. [laughs] It’s okay.

[00:08:40] Bernadette: Sorry, I was on mute-

[00:08:41] Derrick: No worries.

[00:08:42] Bernadette: -which I think is our new norm, besides, “I can’t see you,” or “We can see that. Turn off the camera.” [laughs] I’m Bernadette Rojas, and I’m a Senior International Trade Specialist out of our office here in Fresno, California. I’ve been with the Commercial Service since 2008 and have been with the education team since I returned back to Commercial Service in 2014.

Working with Gabriela as our Global Education Team Leader has been a phenomenal experience under her leadership. The various programs that we would organize together to help the US institutions meet with those international partners have been such a successful endeavor for them. In my daily responsibilities as a trade specialist, I will work with US institutions here within Central Valley.

I had the honor of meeting Dr. Novak and Yuri, as well as Vincent from CSU, Bakersfield at least back in 2014 or ‘15, and had the opportunity to meet with them on campus and introduced how me myself as a person to help them with their international expansion but also the programs that we have but was really nice given that Vincent had been interacting with the Commercial Service prior to us meeting professionally.

It was an easier realm for us to build and establish any goals that they had to accomplish in the short run and long run and be able to just strategize which markets might be of most interest for them. In doing so, it’s so amazing because Yuri handles the American Language Institute. She has been able to work with us in our programs and really helped develop in markets where they may not have been in prior to and participate in our programs.

Dr. Novak’s background, coming from San Jose over here and over to the CSU, Bakersfield, to be able to complement his previous experience. Having that interaction with Gabriela and our global team leader in the San Jose area and now bringing it to the Central Valley, we could see the growth that this institution has had. It’s a wonderful opportunity for any other institution that hasn’t taken those steps to partner with the Commercial Service and see how we can help.

CSUB is a perfect example on the success in utilizing our programs. I’m just so thankful that we’ve had this opportunity to help them grow and bring them to this point now and share their experiences.

[00:11:57] Derrick: Sorry, I’ll back it up. What has been the most difficult hurdle you’ve encountered with international education development or recruitment? Then, how did you overcome that challenge?

[00:12:08] Mark: Well, that’s a very good question at this particular point in time. We’re talking about now, coming into the fall of 2021, we’ve had about a year and a half of basically relying on virtual means to do everything we do. I think that has been the greatest challenge. Anybody in the international realm will agree with that and understand what we’ve been working with.

It’s been an extremely volatile and changing area. The hurdle has been, essentially, we can’t travel. It’s pretty obvious, I think, to anyone in the world today, we’ve not been able to travel and do our recruiting or to meet with our various partners overseas. Then the question is how we overcome that challenge is been through virtual means. Once again, a lot of people have been doing that.

We’ve had some very, very good successes, working with the Commercial Service and utilizing the virtual services available, sometimes Zoom or some other methodology to connect with people and to do fairs and such. Yuri actually has a special program she can talk about in a minute, but we’ve attended several fairs during the year that at least got us out in contacting people overseas. We couldn’t have done that in any other way.

[00:13:31] Yuri: Yes. When we have to do everything virtual because of COVID, Bernedette informed me that there was going to be a virtual conference. It’s Edtech and Distance Learning Virtual Conference in August last year where I could meet the different schools overseas. We happened to meet the ESL program director at the US Embassy in Guatemala, and we spoke about what we are looking for, and it was a really good match. Now we provide teacher education services programs, student-teacher programs, international book clubs, different things.

It’s been very successful, both economically and also cross-culturally. Students are developing friendships, which would have never occurred if we didn’t figure out the way to do virtual teaching and learning. That experience led us to look for other opportunities in other countries. Really, that meeting with the US Embassy in Guatemala personnel was like an opening door that opens different opportunities. We are very thankful for US Commercial Service for that opportunity.

[00:15:10] Derrick: You said and you all mentioned using the Gold Key Service, were there other services that you’ve used in addition to that? Did we go over that?

[00:15:24] Mark: Well, I think Yuri was mentioning one. Yuri, do you want to say that again?

[00:15:27] Yuri: Yes, that was the Edtech and Distance Learning Virtual Conference that took place virtually. We have been exchanging services virtually as well. That was one.

[00:15:44] Derrick: What service thus far do you feel has been most impactful?

[00:15:48] Mark: Well, Derrick, let me mention to others as well because you want to get them all in there. We mentioned the name of Vincent, and it’s Vincent Konchellah, he’s away today, he’s had to go back to his homeland of Kenya. He can’t be with us today, but he’s our international recruiter from our campus here. He was involved in two other virtual fairs during the past year. He was involved in a virtual educator-to-educator fair in June of 2020.

We signed a number of agreements with agents. Once again, not easy to make those kinds of connections without the help of the Commercial Service. That was one. Then also, there was a Study Destination Virtual Connection Program with the Indo-Pacific area. Again, this was a Commercial Service program that Vincent participated in, it was virtual. Once again, we signed a series of agreements.

When I say an agreement, what that means is, we would now have a partner agency somewhere assisting us in finding students who may want to come to our campus. Those are two other programs that were very, very helpful for us. The third one was in 2016. That takes us back a little bit, and that was the Africa EDU Trade Mission. Those are three that Vincent’s been involved with.

The two first ones I mentioned were really just this past year and a half or so and solved that problem I mentioned earlier, of us not being able to travel anywhere. We made quite a lot of use of various programs, including Gold Key. All of them have been very successful for us.

[00:17:22] Derrick: Wonderful. That leads me to the next question, though, of what are the key characteristics your institution looks for in an international recruiting partner?

[00:17:33] Mark: Well, I’ll say a few and then Yuri may have some comments. The first thing we’re looking for is integrity. That’s the first thing in the international marketplace. There are many questions about agents, agencies, even institutions that claim to be universities or colleges. It’s not easy for us always identify a group or an organization that has the level of integrity that we would expect.

That means, for example, not double-dipping, where they might be charging the family a certain fee and then also charging the university a fee. These kinds of things we sometimes can’t track, we don’t know what’s going on. The Commercial Service, by doing us a favor by essentially screening some of these agencies before we ever get to see them, is very, very helpful.

That’s one thing, it’s really important for us, and integrity I think is key. That goes all the way down to both economic integrity and also ethical integrity. That’s so high on the list. I’m not sure there’s anything else that even comes close to that. Yuri, do you have any comments on that?

[00:18:39] Yuri: I think if I can add, as an absolute person who operated in specific programs, I think communication is the key. The only way we can communicate with partners overseas is email mainly. We need to be quick about replying and also being clear about what we want to do so we don’t have to exchange 10 messages before we get small things clarified. Also, we are the State University, we are higher education, so we want to serve the students. We need our partners to feel the same way. The partners and agents that we talk, through different US Commercial Service virtual fairs, I believe they do have those characteristics.

[00:19:43] Gabriela: I want to just comment on that, thanks to Yuri and Mark. With your comments, I just want to add that, to your points, the US Commercial Service, we are a business development operation, assisting to build a recruitment pipeline and partnership channels for US organizations and institutions through, of course, our various program offerings. These are all unique to the education sector, so we keep all of those considerations in mind with our partnership development programs.

Some of the things that were mentioned among the programs are the USA Study Destination Virtual Connection Programs, which focus on these partnerships. We’ve done these regional programs, one per quarter, and we’re looking to develop another series this next fiscal year. As you know, the USA Study Destination engagement is something that we’re working towards.

That is aimed at boosting US education exports by promoting the USA as a premier destination for study. With that, we’re working with the Study State Consortia and institutions to help market, again, the USA as a destination for international students to study. We really appreciate all of the collaboration with the institutions and the Cal State as well.

[00:21:14] Derrick: Thank you. That brings us an interesting follow-up. Gabriela and Bernadette, let’s say an education client comes through the door and they’re looking to— Well, they call you or have them meet you, and they’re looking to develop an international recruiting program. What are some of the first steps because in terms of businesses coming through the door, I know as an organization, we look for them to be export-ready, right? That may have some variations to it, but what does an export-ready education client look like?

[00:21:52] Gabriela: Derrick, that’s a fantastic question. With the global education team, we have produced what we call the International Education Expansion Blueprint, which is a series of questions that we ask US institutions as to where they are in their international recruitment strategies. It helps us understand what markets they’re focusing on, where their international students are coming from. If they have a budget for marketing, it gives us an insight to the entire scope.

With that information gathered, we then provide recommendations as to areas that we can help support or strengthen with our programming, either website globalization reviews, making sure that their website is communicating with the right markets overseas, any digital program, if they are lacking in partnerships in different markets, again going back to the regional virtual connection programs.

Then we also introduce them to local contacts that may be key for them in their international student recruitment and expansion efforts. That includes the Study State Consortia within their states. Of course, we want them to be connected to the economic development offices, as well as the travel/tourism offices, the District Export Councils, and just generally, very well-connected in the communities and communicating that international education is a very important service export for the local communities and making sure that they are at the table when they’re talking about service exports and maintaining jobs and keeping a vibrant community attracting travelers, attracting students.

That is the role that we want to play every time we touch a client that comes through the door that is education-related. Again, of course, the institutions are a fantastic partner in this and play such an important role in communities that we want to make all resources available to them. We do that through the variety of our programs.

[00:24:14] Derrick: Thank you. Mark and Yuri, back to you. What has been the most satisfying international education experience of your career or even the most standout one? Which one do you recall?

[00:24:32] Mark: Well, there, I’ll give you an international recruiter or the kind of work I do. There are so many extraordinary experiences, but I’ll go back to right in my early days with Commercial Service. Gabriela was so valuable in helping us to set up that program in China and just a brief example of how this kind of thing works. We’re an educational institution. We were set up for a meeting with China Daily, as I had mentioned that earlier. I was in a meeting in a conference room and talking with some people from China.

I didn’t know much about their hierarchy, and it’s quite a complex hierarchy. I was talking with some people and a man walked by and then a few seconds later, he must’ve seen it. There were two Westerners sitting there. He came back in [unintelligible 00:25:16] who eventually over the next about 10 years became a very close affiliate of San Jose State, and he was in charge of many different pieces of the China Daily editorial staff but one of the things he did was he was in charge of the China Daily National English Speaking Competition.

For me, that was extraordinary because from that point on, I was invited to be a judge and then eventually the question master for the National English Speaking Competition in China. It gave me a chance to travel all over that country. I met many, many, many people throughout China, got a chance to meet with students who were actually presenting at those English-speaking competitions.

That was just fortuitous. It started out with just a normal meeting to talk about, then, a language program. That’s how I got to have that meeting with them, and so did we in San Jose, but it went way beyond that. In these kinds of situations, Derrick, you never quite know what one thing is going to lead to another. That was my extraordinary experience, and it changed my life in many ways because I spent years, each year going back to China and traveling all over that country.

[00:26:30] Derrick: Wonderful. Yuri, any from you?

[00:26:32] Yuri: Yes. Looking back the last year and a half, we, our teachers have taught a lot of students in different countries, and most of these students would probably not be able to come to study in the US, but they got a little bit of taste of that using the virtual platform. Also, we provide opportunities for American volunteers in the community to talk with these students.

Of course, economical impact is important and essential, but also I think we shouldn’t ignore the quality and also the understanding awareness, understanding the cross-cultural differences. We do have different cultural values and different customs, but we are people. Students and volunteers, adult volunteers are just delighted to form these virtual friendships over the last year and a half. That’s probably one of the thing that stand out most to me.

[00:27:47] Derrick: Thank you. Just to segue a little into maybe some other future international education market prospects, and I think we could also add in this section any agreements or partnerships that you currently have in the pipeline, can you talk about any of those things, Mark or Yuri?

[00:28:08] Mark: Yes. Well, I’ll mention a few on behalf of Vincent, who told me some of the things he’s been doing. We have I would say about 100 or so agents and agencies around the world that are partners with us in that we have formal agreements with them. In the two events that he went to that were virtual, he signed several agreements, looking forward, and they’re in countries that we target because we think there’s some opportunity for us.

He signed on the virtual educator-to-educator program, and we signed two agreements with agencies in India, one in Kuwait, and one in Turkey. Those are two that are likely, over the next little while, to become valuable for us. Those are three areas where we think there’s some opportunity for our campus. Then in another case, in the Study Destination Virtual Connection Program, we signed agreements, too, with Taiwan, which is not a country we usually get a chance to go to.

This is the other side of the coin. The first ones, we had a chance to meet with agencies in countries that we typically go to or are familiar with, but in this case, we were looking for some countries that maybe we don’t go to where the virtual value was something that we could exploit. We have two agreements with agencies in Taiwan, one of them in Azerbaijan, which we’d never been to, one in South Korea, and then one again in Turkey, one in Vietnam, and one in India.

You get a sense for the kinds of things we’re looking for. In one case, India is a very big market for us because of their interest in technology, and we’re having a new computer science program developing. Kuwait, we have a very strong relationship with the Kuwaiti Cultural mission in Los Angeles. We see students from Kuwait, and we think that’s a great market.

Turkey, their students just want to come to the US. Right now, Derrick, as we’ve been saying it’s just difficult to get there. I actually have a fully paid ticket and prepaid fare in Turkey that I’ve not been able to go to for a year and a half, and the ticket and the fare are paid, it’s just sitting there. Being able to do this virtually with the assistance of the Commercial Service was very, very helpful.

[00:30:27] Gabriela: Just to build on what Mark was mentioning, Derrick, is that it’s important to understand that from where we are coming from at the US Commercial Service, the International Trade Administration, is that it is our agency that is tasked, as part of our mission, to support industries to compete at home and abroad. Again, our strategies and our programming are based squarely on that.

Our metrics also, we are measured by the success that the education institutions that we work with come about. If an educational institution successfully signs a recruitment partner or another entity overseas, that will help them promote their institution and bring in international students that count towards our performance metrics. Our success is really the success of industry. What we do is meant to help industry be promoted and succeed.

We do put industry first for a lot of what we do if not everything. I think it’s important for folks to keep that in mind that we’re really in it for the success of the institutions that we serve of all the clients that we serve. We don’t just cover the higher education market, but we also cover everything else that is included in the education industry, that be secondary education, Edtech, research and development. We don’t shy away from supporting the sector as a whole.

[00:32:16] Derrick: Gabriela, the one thing I wanted to get, I’m not sure where I’ll put it because we can order this however. The one thing I do want to get to before you had to go was maybe you could talk a little bit about the impact of the education industry and international student recruitment on the community at large because I think sometimes that gets missed in some of the conversations. I definitely wanted to get your take before you had to go.

[00:32:45] Gabriela: Absolutely. We have always thought about the education industry as being very impactful for our local communities. We’ve got US education institutions attracting international students from an early age within the secondary education, the English language training. These students typically go on to study in our higher education institutions and eventually either work for the high-tech companies here in the US or develop their own companies that become our highest revenue producers.

These are all benefits of bringing international students to the US and supporting the sector not only from the Education Service Exports lens but also just from the whole approach. They are supporting a number of industries, be it the travel tourism industry, the insurance industries. They’re flying into the US using our airports and traveling to different destinations. All of that is very important from the time that they step foot here in the US.

Actually, even before that, they are taking exams and so paying into the testing industries and everything else that encompasses an international student’s lifeline or timeline by the time that they are thinking about coming to study here to the US and then staying here in the United States then afterwards as well. We’ve had very successful alumni stories that we’ve listened to about international students going back to their countries and being very successful leaning towards working more with the US as well as US businesses.

A lot of the leaders from different countries, they’ve had experiences studying here in the US. I’m sure Mark can speak more to their specific experiences with their students and the results that they’ve seen. We feel that bringing international students is a win-win for all of us. It is something that we do enjoy working with this sector for a number of reasons.

[00:35:28] Mark: Derrick, can I just expand a little bit on what Gabriela was saying and just give some details? San Jose, when I was there and just up until pre-pandemic, had approximately 4,000 international students. That comes to about between $60 and $80 million a year in added revenue to that campus. I’m not talking about books and what they might spend unranked in the community, but anyway, I’m just talking about pure tuition dollars.

Right off the bat in one campus, you get a sense for how large that impact can be. Then those students, to go on with your point and Gabriela’s point, those students and many of them in engineering and computer science go right out into Silicon Valley, they do their optional practical training. Then from there, many of them end up with green cards. As Gabriela said, many of them open businesses in the San Jose area and Silicon Valley.

They fuel the economy tremendously. You’ve got the first upfront piece where they come in and provide revenue to the community and diversity, by the way, and ethnic and cultural diversity. From a purely economic point of view, they’re a very powerful force. Then after that, as they go into the community with their often master’s degrees in engineering and computer science, they become very big players in the Silicon Valley arena.

[00:37:00] Derrick: Thank you for adding that. I appreciate it. Bernadette, anything from you on impact from what you think about the impact of international student enrollment?

[00:37:12] Bernadette: Yes. To complement everything Gabriela and Dr. Novak have shared, the aspect here that we’ve also seen, this real tremendous shift between the collaboration of the education industry and the travel and tourism industry. There’s such a huge impact that has happened all across the board in all industries since we’ve been encountered with this challenge globally.

Moreso, we’ve seen this impact negatively, unfortunately, for international students coming. Part of another venue that we work together with, education team, is collaborating with the travel and tourism industry because they, too, have also been negatively impacted. Some may think, “Well, what does that collaboration look like?” because when the international students are coming to visit, to spot-check a school, or even when they do decide to study and they’re residing here, families and friends from alternate countries do come to the US.

They’re visiting Yosemite, they’re visiting the major landmarks throughout Texas and New York. It’s going to be real amazing that now that there’s this real, conscious shift that is going to be deliberate to bring the two together to help support each other and bring that awareness through the leveraged established relationships that the Commercial Service has with our offices that are in about 80-so countries.

We’ve got about 120 commercial offices that can be that leg work, be that extension, that representation of the US institution, that are looking to expand or export for the first time by trying to find agents in those countries. If I could, I wanted to see with, Dr. Novak and Yuri, both of you by sharing the programs, your experience from other institutions, and you’re bringing that so much to the Central Valley, which we often get looked over, unfortunately, where naturally so, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Bay Area, they’ve got those big high-tech corporations, but here in central California, we’re so grateful that you’re moving that needle in terms of representation that you are utilizing to find those foreign markets.

What I’d like to see if you could share a few moments, a few sentences about is your experience in the beginning. How was international student and your partnership recruitment adopted or received in the very beginnings? How was that for you when you first started out?

[00:40:09] Mark: Do you mean, Bernadette, received by the campus or by the community? Say a little more about that.

[00:40:16] Bernadette: I would think it’d be more from a campus perspective because I know there are some institutions that are not able to work with agents. In that sense, when you were first thinking about wanting to give back, do more in international student recruitment, do you remember how it was in the beginning to establish that sort of recruitment program within the institution?

[00:40:43] Mark: Absolutely, Bernadette. Going back to my earlier years, remember this is now about a 20-year story, there wasn’t so much of a difficulty at San Jose. I think it’s maybe more of a sophisticated campus, and I just don’t remember there being very much of an issue. Also, there wasn’t much, I’ll call it, control in those days on working with agents, we were just able to do it.

When I came to Bakersfield, this is very interesting, Dr. Mitchell was the president here. He didn’t know anything about working with agents, and all he remembered was from his conversation with other presidents, that this was a no-no, he shouldn’t do it. I had to educate him, and this had to change, and some of the organizations that were opposed to work with agents had changed their views. I assured him that we would belong to an organization called RAC, which is a vetting agency for recruitment. For agencies, for agents, you have to be a very, very high-level agent to be a part.

I did a whole lot of things to convince him that this was legitimate, that we were going to be protected from any kind of fraudulent activities. At that time, and this was back seven years, really, it’s much more organized now. In other words, you can protect yourself much more from these kinds of unscrupulous people out there. That was what happened, Bernadette. It took me a while to convince the president. He trusted me in this, and I was able to show him how we were going to protect the campus.

There are probably some campuses that don’t work with agents right now. In fact, I know there are some, but really many, many more have come on board, so that’s something. I’ve something else, and this goes back to the Commercial Service piece. That I was also introduced to other campuses. This is another form of recruitment for us, that is, if we can get to know a campus where they’ve got undergraduates that would send us graduate students as a pipeline.

This happened at the Commercial Service work in Singapore, we were able to get to know some education institutions there. That’s less problematic in terms of people wondering whether you should be working with them or not. Bernadette, I think that may answer your question. Is that right?

[00:43:02] Bernadette: Yes, absolutely. Just on that caveat, to piggyback, the Commercial Service, if your institution’s primary goal is to meet with pre-screened, vetted international agents, we have no problem in helping a US institution accomplish that. In this instance where a school is not apt or open or available to meet with agents, we also assist with schools in that venue as well.

For example, we would make sure we could utilize a company to meet with high school counselors or any of the associations that might be in a position to partner with a US institution. There are so many different ways, but yes, Dr. Novak, thank you for sharing because there are so many schools that may be on that verge now, especially with things having changed this whole last year and a half that maybe they need to now reassess their model and see if “Now maybe we might need to work with agents” or dabble in a little bit of international and knowing how your success and how the Commercial Service can help accomplish those goals.

I thank you for answering that. The other thing that I wanted to see if we can quickly touch on is either, Dr. Novak or Yuri, your experience or involvement with the Education State Consortia. We have our California Study State Consortia. Is there any involvement or experience you’d like to share with us?

[00:44:37] Mark: I’ll say one thing and then Yuri has quite a lot to say about that. I was involved with setting up Study California, and I think that’s what you’re referring to, Bernadette, where we’ve been at San Jose, and I was with Gabriela the first time we had a meeting, and she presented the opportunity to develop Study California. I was there with some of my colleagues from De Anza College and some of the other schools in the area.

Gabriela was really a star in setting that up. Then we’ve been a member of that, certainly, at San Jose, and then here, we’re now a member of Study California. It’s a terrific enterprise, a wonderful thing that was really initiated by the Commercial Service, and they got us going. Yuri is more deeply involved in that. Yuri, do you want to say something about that?

[00:45:25] Yuri: Yes. Of course, California State University, Bakersfield has been a member of Study California Consortia, and I became the treasurer of the organization last year. Personally, I’ve been learning a lot about doing things behind the scenes, and also that introduced me to a whole entire network of people who do the same kind of work so we can exchange best practices, so that’s great.

Also, when we sign up at Study California for any fairs, we can divide the fee so each campus does not have to pay the entire amount. We take turns, and we work as a team, so that has been very beneficial for any Study California members to be part of.

[00:46:32] Mark: That was solely initiated originally in California by Gabriela and the Commercial Service, and it’s just going to go on. It’s a very, very important piece of our total package of presenting California to the world.

[00:46:49] Bernadette: Absolutely. What I think is really also a nice caveat, as a member of the Study California State Consortia, is we have this annual NAFSA Conference that we all participate in. Any USA institution that isn’t should be aware of this phenomenal conference that occurs, where it’s just a global presence of thousands of individuals from government to associations, to institutions, to high schools that participate, of everything and anything you want to know about international education.

At this particular conference, though, we organize a Study State Pavilion within the US Pavilion of a space that we hold at NAFSA. For the Study State Consortias throughout the United States, they opt into being part like an exhibitor, so to speak, but having this wonderful space available for each of the Study State Consortia and having those individual representatives who are members to come on in, especially if they’re already attending NAFSA on the side but come in and in be able to promote their study state as a group as a whole, and then at the same time, caveat and take advantage of our colleagues that come from the offices overseas and meet one-on-one with those potential partners, whether it be agents or high school counselors, representatives, et cetera.

That’s something that I’m thankful for both you, Dr. Novak and Gabriela, for being the benchmark, and this establishes a firm foundation to see where it grows now, so it’s great to have Gabriela as our Global Education Team Leader, I’ll tell you that.

[00:48:47] Derrick: Does happen every year, is that an event that happens annually?

[00:48:51] Bernadette: Yes, every year, and it changes. One year, yes, I can’t remember where it was, but last year was supposed to be in Chicago, so it changes throughout each state each year.

[00:49:04] Derrick: Got you. Okay, wonderful. Thank you. We’ve held you a pretty good amount of time. Just maybe two more questions for you before we close out. Could you talk to us about the staff you need to support international student and partnership recruitment?

[00:49:26] Mark: Oh, the staffing question?

[00:49:28] Derrick: Yes, yes.

[00:49:30] Mark: Well, I would say most offices of international on a modest-sized campus like ours are fairly small. I’ll give you an example. At our campus, we would have one recruiter, and I would often go also to assist where I might do some separate recruiting on my own. Even a place like Long Beach I believe only has one person that they send out to actually do recruiting, whereas at San Jose, with 4,000 students there, we only had one recruiter, so that’s typical.

Then, of course, you’d have a Dean or a director, depending. That would be that side of the office. Then you would have a bit of some a marketing arm that wouldn’t only work for international but that would produce, in the old days, brochures but now would be producing websites and that sort of thing. You need to have a web presence and then you have the recruiter out there, recruit day-to-day, going out and meeting with people in other countries, and you’d have an administrative person.

Those would be the main players, I would say. Then, of course, you’ve got behind the scenes, which would not be a part of my unit, it would be the admissions and records people. When people start to apply and become admitted, there’s a whole other piece to this puzzle that my office didn’t deal with. We dealt with the outreach part and then when the students applied, that came into a whole different section of the university. It’s the case here and the case in most universities. That gives you an idea. It’s a very, very small operation. Even on what we call the study-abroad side, often, these offices have only one or two people.

[00:51:09] Derrick: Okay, perfect. Last question for you from me, at least for right now. What three, it doesn’t have to be three, I’m not quite certain why I always keep the three in there, but what pieces of advice would you share with the US institution in the initial stages of formulating an international student recruitment strategy?

[00:51:32] Mark: Yes. Sometimes I’ll do some consulting with schools that are just getting started, and the first thing a school needs to do is to really assess, I’ll say, who they are or what they are as an institution now. How large are they? Do they have, for example, dormitory facilities for people? What kinds of programs do they offer? Are they an undergraduate institution or graduate institution?

All of these kinds of things play a role in deciding what it is you’re going to do when you go out and try to recruit somebody because the first question that people ask is what programs you have. Then some countries, for example, are undergraduate-based countries. Some countries like India are primarily graduate markets. You need to know who you are as an institution. That probably goes all the way up to saying that the senior level of the administration, the president, and the provost, vice presidents need to be on board.

They need to know that we’re going forward with this, that there’s some kind of a budget after you’ve decided you’re going to do this and you have an idea of who you are as an institution. Do you have a budget for this? What does that budget look like? Do you have a recruiter, how much is that going to cost in salary? Then when you go out and do recruiting, a recruiting tour let’s say to India can cost $10,000, $12,000 each time you go out.

If a person spends more time out, it could jump up into $15,000 or so. If you make a number of those trips during a year, then that’s going to cost, and you’d have to really be serious and look at the budget and say, do you have material? Do you have a website? Are you going to go to NAFSA or any of the large conferences, are you going to fairs? Fairs are also expensive. You need to have a budget of some kind and really be frank with the administration to say, “This is what it’s going to cost to do this.

“Here’s what we think we can do. Here’s the countries we can go to, here are the programs we might offer,” you do some assessment, “and here’s what it’s going to cost.” That would be the next thing to say. Then actualizing the plan, you need to get somebody actually going out and doing it and assessing the outcome. You’re going to be three years probably before you start to see the return on your investment.

A year or so, going out, nobody knows who you are as an institution, you don’t know any of the agency or agencies. You sign some agreements. You’re the second year, they are maybe sending you a student or two, just to test the market and see if you’re a school for their kinds of students only into the third year, so you’re talking about being frank with the senior leadership and saying, “This is going to need investment.

“It’s going to mean investment in personnel, and it’s going to mean investment in recruiting expenses. That’s going to go on for three years. Don’t be impatient. If you think you’re going to see a result in return on investment in a year, it is not going to happen. It’s just not ever going to happen.” Those are the kinds of things I would say right away in the way of warnings. Then in addition to that, I’ll just say, “Okay, what are the advantages?” and I try to put those on the table. We’ve got diversity, and we’ve got some revenue coming in. Those are the kinds of outcomes you’d hope for, but it takes some planning and really, some strategizing.

[00:54:44] Derrick: Perfect. Yuri, anything from you that you’ve seen?

[00:54:49] Yuri: I think also if I can add anything, Dr. Novak is an international study recruiting guru. Maybe the world is very large, so you might want to think about where, at first, maybe you want to target a region. Maybe you’re a recruiter from that region. I say that because I’m originally from Japan, I grew up there, so I know the culture, I know the language. Not very, it was easier for me to build the relationships more quickly and also cater to their need, what programs that might be beneficial for the Japanese students because I was a Japanese student learning English as a second language or foreign language. Maybe that might be a good thing to evaluate.

[00:55:51] Mark: Well, I want to share one thing. It’s really how great it’s been working with Bernadette and also Gabriela, but I think we may give Gabriela a little more attention at this time because of my early days there, but Bernadette has been fantastic to work with here. Even setting up this thing we’re doing today is really through Bernadette. She’s so energetic and so creative, and that inspires everybody to do more and to become involved and work with Commercial Service.

It’s the people in the Commercial Service that really make the thing work. That positivity and energy and the idea that we can do new things and be creative and setting up opportunities for us, whether it’s through fairs or whether it’s through Gold Key, this, to me, is really what the Commercial Service is all about. It’s all about the people in the Commercial Service. It sounds like it’s an organization. Of course, it is, but it’s really made up of these fantastic individuals like Bernadette, who are just committed to what they do and committed to helping us in the education sector.

[00:56:57] Bernadette: Well, thank you. I have to jump on that and say, thank you so much, but we couldn’t do what we do, we wouldn’t be here without you. We wouldn’t be here without institutions like you, support, especially also with Yuri and Vincent. We thank you for that because, as Gabriela mentioned earlier, we’re only successful if the US school is, and that’s why we’re measured on the way that we are. Thank you for your continued enthusiasm and all the great work you do to help increase international student enrollment here in the Central Valley.

[00:57:35] Derrick: Mark, Yuri, tell us where people can contact you or the school if they want to reach out for partnerships or for whatever reason.

[00:57:45] Mark: Okay. I’ll give you my email. It’s M-N-O-V-A-K, Mnovak, and then the number two, @CSUB.edu.

[00:57:58] Derrick: Yuri?

[00:57:59] Yuri: My email address is ysakamaki, Y-S-A-K-A-M-A-K-I, @CSUB.edu. The International Students Programs does have the website, it’s csub.edu/isp, as in International Students Programs.

[00:58:27] Derrick: This podcast is intended to provide information that may be of assistance to US companies. Statements made by Export Nation Podcast guests reflect the views and opinions of that individual. This podcast does not constitute an endorsement by the US Commercial Service of the individual, his or her employer, or affiliated entity. The specific information provided, resources mentioned, or products or services endorsed are offered by that individual and his or her employer or affiliated entity.

The US Commercial Service assumes no responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of the information provided by the guest or for the decisions made in reliance on any information provided by the guest in this podcast. The information provided in this podcast does not constitute legal advice. Thank you for listening to this episode of Export Nation, brought to you by the US Commercial Service. For more information on how you can get started exporting, please visit www.trade.gov.

[00:59:35] [END OF AUDIO]