This is a tale of two enrollment managers who received the following memo form their president:
Dear Enrollment Manager,
Enrollment projections for next year are not good. I anticipate a revenue shortfall as a result of fewer first year students enrolling and fewer students progressing to the second year.
I know that international higher education is a big “business.” I read a report issued by the World Bank citing that students studying outside their home countries is a 400 billion dollar enterprise. International students contributed $21 billion to the U.S. economy in 2011 and by 2025 the global demand for seats in higher education is projected to reach 200 million students.
In 2012 the College Board reported the number of Chinese students taking the SAT increased by 48%.
We need to expand our markets. I am charging you with developing an international recruitment program this year and would like you to enroll a significant number of international students by next fall. Good luck.
ENROLLMENT MANAGER # 1 calls a meeting of the admission counselors and asks who has a passport and who has an interest in travelling internationally.
ENROLLMENT MANAGER#2 meets with the school’s director of institutional research and asks for a report on the latest trends and best practices in international recruitment.
ENROLLMENT MANAGER #1 looks up a list of all international fairs and signs up to participate in five.
ENROLLMENT MANAGER #2 conducts a focus group of current international students after reading a report indicating that prospective international students are influenced by friends (47%), followed by parents (38%), and then the school’s website (23%).
ENROLLMENT MANAGER #1 decides to travel to Beijing and Shanghai to meet prospective Chinese students.
ENROLLMENT MANAGER #2 decides to recruit in Chongqing, Hunan Sichuan, Henan, Hainan and Jiangxi, the highest growth areas in SAT takers.
ENROLLMENT MANAGER #1 meets with the director of publications to write a new, international brochure to hand out at fairs. All information will be in English.
ENROLLMENT MANAGER #2 meets with the director of IT to determine the best way to digitally communicate with prospective students and how best to communicate in different languages with prospective students and parents.
ENROLLMENT MANAGER #1 did not ask for or receive additional funding or staff to initiate an international recruitment program.
ENROLLMENT MANAGER #2 meets with the school’s CFO with a budget to implement a strategic international program and outlined the potential ROI from that investment.
ENROLLMENT MANAGER #1 did not involve any other departments as part of the international recruitment plan.
ENROLLMENT MANAGER #2 met with the dean of students, the director of career services and the alumni director to involve their offices in the strategic recruitment plan.
ENROLLMENT MANAGER #1 decides to “outsource” the recruitment plan to agents after six months of poor results.
ENROLLMENT MANAGER #2 has been receiving monthly reports from a group of international educational agents on their progress in meeting enrollment goals.
ENROLLMENT MANAGER #1 is marketing the school based on a fall and spring semester.
ENROLLMENT MANAGER #2 is using the “third semester,” during the summer months, to assist with international recruiting. Offering courses on-line would allow students to remain in their home countries and stay connected to the school. The director of retention and student success believes this could help progression to the third semester.
IT SHOULD COME AS NO SURPRISE THAT ENROLLMENT MANAGER #2 HAS A GREATER CHANCE OF SUCCEEDING IN MEETING THE PRESIDENT’S DIRECTIVE.
THE FOLLOWING ARE TEN PITFALLS TO AVOID IN WRITING AND IMPLEMENTING A STRATEGIC INTERNATIONAL RECRUITMENT PLAN
Poorly defined goals and objectives
Lack of prioritization
Lack of research
Insufficient funding and staff
Lack of involvement from other offices
Bureaucratic application and admission process
Lack of technology and social media in recruitment plan
Lack of international parental involvement
Lack of student services for international students
ELEMENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL INTERNATIONAL STRATEGIC RECRUITMENT PLAN
The plan is synergistic with the school’s strategic plan and complements the school’s strategic enrollment management plan.
The plan has the support of the president and key stakeholders and has school-wide acceptance.
There are clear and definitive reasons why international students should enroll at your school.
The plan has clear goals and objectives.
The key components of a customer relationship management program are part of the plan.
The plan is based on research.
The plan has adequate staffing and funding.
Technology and social media are part of the recruitment plan
The plan is assessed every three to six months.
QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE WRITING A STRATEGIC INTERNATIONAL RECRUITMENT PLAN
Why does your school want to enroll international students?
What can your school offer international students that none of your competitors can?
Are there adequate student services for international students?
Is there a specific retention and student success program for international students?
Are you willing to regularly assess and if necessary, change the plan?
How will you measure?