Why Australian schools have missed out in India and 7 steps to succeeding there

Demand for education in private international English-medium schools in India is soaring.

Despite this, few if any Australian private schools and school product providers have made inroads into India.

One of the barriers is what I call the “agency thinking” of education – just appoint lots of agents and the business will flow. Maybe – but India is a relationship country and you only become a big player through relationships, not through agency.

Indian nationals in the more expensive private international schools with fees above USD$10,000 make up 43 per cent of students. That’s high. As India’s middle class expands, this figure will also rise.

It is a great opportunity for Australian school education – our whole education system is well regarded in India.

The main international curricula offered in India are the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum and the Cambridge International Examinations.

Here is the bad news – no Indian schools are offering the Australian curriculum. Why not?

schools 3

I have long advocated a “partnership model” for market entry into India. I recently conducted research on “partnership and collaboration” opportunities in the horticulture sector and this is looking much more positive than simple going to India for a quick sale.

This strategy has also been endorsed in the Final Report International Opportunities for Australian School Curriculum, Assessment and Regulatory Products; Australian International Education: Enabling Growth and Innovation – NSW Education Standards Authority and Nous Group January 2019 – “Given the size and complexity of operating in India, a partnership approach could assist Australian agencies and providers in developing market opportunities.”

Australia is much more “transactional” than we like to think. That is why we have not done well in Indian schooling.

Keep in mind there are many barriers to market entry.

How do you create a “partnership model”?

  1. Of course, do your homework, which means pay for expertise to deliver real on the ground opportunities in India, which might include exchanges, curriculum, technology or some form of JV with an existing school or group
  2. Build relationships – which also means take your time, budget for the long road
  3. Look in the developing sectors, such as Smart Cities, new cities, redevelopments and the property landscape
  4. Create relationships across all areas of the education sector – governments (central and state), schools, advisors, curriculum, technology providers and more
  5. Leverage existing Australian university relationships in India
  6. Always, where you can, build a local Indian presence, because this above all else signals that you want to be a genuine long-term partner
  7. And always, where you can, build your presence through a Joint Venture with a respected Indian brand in your sector

Author: Stephen Manallack

Former President, Australia India Business Council, Victoria and Author, You Can Communicate; Riding the Elephant; Soft Skills for a Flat World (published by Tata McGraw-Hill INDIA); Communicating Your Personal Brand. Director, EastWest Academy Pty Ltd and Trainer/Speaker/Mentor in Leadership, Communication and Cross Cultural Communication. Passionate campaigner for closer western relations with India. Stephen Manallack is a specialist on “Doing Business with India” and advisor/trainer on “Cross-Cultural Understanding”. He is a Director of EastWest Academy Pty Ltd which provides strategic advice and counsel regarding business relations with India. A regular speaker in India on leadership and global communication, his most recent speaking tour included a speech to students of the elite Indian university, Amity University, in Noida. He also spoke at a major Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) global summit, the PR Consultants Association of India in Delhi, the Symbiosis University in Pune and Cross-Cultural Training for Sundaram Business Services in Chennai. He has visited India on business missions on 10 occasions and led three major trade missions there. He provides cross-cultural training – Asia and the west.

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