With international students exceeding 1 million for the first time in the United States, according to the Institute of International Education, there’s now a unique and valuable opportunity for colleges and universities to increase their international enrollments. Additionally, the institutions that are successfully recruiting international students are also experiencing higher academic standards amongst their student body, a more diverse student population, and increased revenues via full or out-of-state tuitions. To assist schools that are considering entering the international student recruitment market, I’ve written this short post based on our new eBook: Recruiting International Students The 5 tips presented below are taken directly from the eBook and can be implemented in your international recruitment strategy today.
1. Understand your value proposition
A college or university must assess and acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses to determine how to differentiate themselves from their competitors. I recommend doing an inventory of your offerings and defining what creates value for your prospective student. Also, consider your value proposition from the perspective of the parents of your prospective student, who may have concerns about sending their child abroad. Typically, parents are concerned with cultural differences. By demonstrating that your school offers programs designed to help prospects assimilate within your community, you may be able ease these concerns.
2. Identify internal marketing and recruiting assets
Many schools who are new to the international recruitment arena may not realize that they’re likely to have existing “free” resources within their institution, which they can leverage. For instance, your faculty may complete research abroad, attend global conference or may even be living and working abroad. It’s important to capitalize on your faculty’s knowledge and expertise in your recruitment efforts. These staff members can provide insight into the culture, offer suggestions for marketing strategies and even act as an ambassador for prospective students who can’t make the trip to the U.S., but would like to have a face-to-face conversation with a representative of your institution.
3. Research your target market
One of the most important and sometimes overlooked components of a strong international student recruitment strategy is truly understanding your target audience. It’s imperative that you recognize that you will not be able to provide something for everyone, but with the right market research, you can uncover and understand your market niche in order to be successful. As the Senior Director of International Student Recruitment at EducationDynamics Kim Lessig notes, “Focus on the need: does a student need to be located in Los Angeles or Chicago, or near a specific industry hub, or near an immigrant community? These are just some of the ways you might align your institution’s value with a target group’s needs.”
4. Create your strategic plan
In order to build buy-in for an effective international recruitment campaign, you must not only be able to demonstrate your institutional need for international students, but also the value international students deliver to your institution. Start by taking a birds-eye view of your institution to determine both readiness and capacity. Reach out to each department and their corresponding faculties to gain their endorsement for an institution comprised of a strong international student body. Through this, you’ll identify key internal stakeholders to help champion your vision and who can also contribute to the work of building the recruitment plan. Next, ensure that your admissions and enrollment teams are equipped to support your international recruitment strategy. Are they able to manage an influx of international students with different needs? Are they able to effectively communicate with various communities in their native language? If you don’t have your entire institution onboard and working together, it won’t matter how many prospective students you generate, none of them will enroll.
5. Execute and continually assess
You’ll have to constantly optimize your international enrollment marketing strategy in order to identify weaknesses and make the necessary improvements. Regardless of your strategy, here are three tactics that your school can use to supplement your international recruitment efforts:
Once you’ve tested some of these tactics, you can focus on only those that prove to be effective for your specific goals. If you’re ready to pursue the growing international student recruitment market, I encourage you to download the Recruiting International Students eBook. The proven recruitment strategies in this eBook are underpinned by data from the most successful recruiting institutions in the country.