The world is bursting with people from different cultures; identities formed from the environment we grew up in, our family, friends, and where we were born, among other things. It influences how we engage with the world, the perspectives we take, and the expectations we have. Culture can influence what we consider success in our careers, how we understand music, and even define how we see colours. Every single one of us has a culture, and most of us have identities built from multiple cultures; whether it’s our race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality.
The world is so much more connected than it has ever been, with students from different cultures travelling all over the world to study and attend universities. As of 2018-2019, almost half-a-million non-UK students were studying in UK higher education, with a majority coming from China, India, the US, Hong Kong, and Italy.
Let’s look at a number of reasons why cultural diversity can be an asset and how PR can help achieve this:
1. Stronger cohort
A classroom of students from different cultures will make for a stronger cohort as each student brings a unique cultural perspective to a discussion and exposes every other student to a new way of thinking. This allows students to be exposed to different views and perspectives to their own which they may have never considered otherwise.
Being exposed to other cultures allows people to realise that the similarities and differences between those from different cultures are important and that each situation is unique and may require different solutions. These solutions are easier to come by with increased cultural diversity in classrooms.
2. Ready for diverse workplace
In the modern world, individuals in work are being exposed to more cultures than ever before; whether you’re an employee with colleagues from different countries or an employer with teams across continents. This means cultural awareness is a necessity more than ever: people need to appreciate that those from other cultures hold different values, beliefs, and perceptions to your own. The meaning that people give to certain activities could be different according to certain cultures, and this is a fact people need to understand to work functionally as a diverse group.
Those with low cultural awareness will think ‘my way is the only way’ as they are unaware that those from other cultures with have other ways of doing or perceiving things. Those with the highest level of cultural awareness will think more about ‘our way.’ This brings people from different cultural backgrounds together successfully and allows them to work together to meet the needs of a particular situation. A diverse group of cultures in the classroom prepares students for the increased diversity they will experience in the workplace.
3. International connections
Having students from different countries also helps institutions build connections and a presence in other countries. Some graduates may return to their home country after graduating, where they end up starting a wildly successful business or use their degree in some other amazing way. This will raise the profile of your institution in that country as people will want to know where they studied in higher education.
If you want your institution to forge relationships with newer emerging markets, then consider PR campaigns to recruit students from countries farther afield.
These advantages of diverse classrooms give institutions good reason to target PR campaigns at international markets. In fact, a common purpose for employing PR is to increase the cultural diversity of an institution or course.
For example, in the past a client has asked us to help increase applications from India. To achieve this, we secured stories in relevant, well-read Indian publications, such as The Times of India and The Hindustan Times. To be as relevant as possible, these stories were based around the experiences of the client’s Indian alumni and their success after graduating.
This coverage led to a 20% increase in Indian applications to their programmes; a great indicator of a successful PR campaign. We have even delivered press coverage in Mongolia after a student visited the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. This resulted in our client university gaining their first application from a Mongolian student. These are great examples of why cultural diversity is an asset in the classroom.
When targeting a specific country, it is important to ensure that the stories are relevant to the region, whether that involves students or faculty from that country or research connected to the country.
If you would like advice on how to increase the cultural diversity of your institution, then contact BlueSky PR today.