How to recruit international students in 2018.
How to recruit international students in 2018.
International Students in the United States: Past Statistics and Future Predictions
Almost every day some announcement from educational organizations and U.S. colleges and universities predict fewer international students will enroll on U.S. college campuses in the future. While fall enrollment statistics are not yet available, I think it is safe to concur with that prediction.
Those of you reading this blog know that in marketing perception becomes reality. And the perception is that the United States no longer offers a welcoming environment for international students, professors, conferences.
Many of my future blogs will provide a chronology of how policies are impacting international student recruitment. But this blog is not about what will happen in the future but what has happened in the past.
There is ample evidence that the U.S. has been losing market share of the worldwide international student market for several years.
Consider the following:
In 2015-16 international student enrollment in the United States increased by 7 per cent from the previous year. But that was down from a 10 per cent increase in the previous year.
In 2001, 28 per cent of all international students enrolled in colleges and universities in the United States. By 2014, it was 22 per cent.
In 2014-15, there were 304,040 Chinese students studying on United States’ colleges and universities, a 10.8 per cent increase from the previous year. However, in 2013-14 the increase was 21.4 per cent.
There are many more statistics to support the premise that long before the election of President Trump the United States was losing its dominance in international student enrollments.
I predict this will be a very disruptive year for international admission deans and recruiters. I recommend discarding current strategic international plans and prepare new plans that include the political and economic realities of 2017.
International Student and Parent Communication Plan for 2017
Most colleges and universities who recruit international students have a communication outreach plan; an admission “funnel.” Traditional communication plans are management tools, not the tools for understanding market behavior. Few schools, for example, have communication plans for parents from the time of application to the time of enrollment, even though multiple research reports indicate that parents often have the final say in which school their child enrolls.
Because so much information about colleges and universities can be found on-line by prospective students and parents, I am recommending a communication plan that focuses on outcomes, not features.
Suggested Communication Plan for 2017:
Send information about career counseling, job placement rates, graduation statistics
Letter from current international parent
Send information about student services for international students, organizations, clubs, athletics
Letter from current student
Letter from alumni parent
Letter from faculty advisor
List of first semester courses
Letter from president, board chair
Counseling services for international students
Contact information for school administrators and services
In 2009 Twitter posted 300,000 tweets a day. Today 500 million tweets are posted every day. In 2009 Facebook had 1150 active users. Today there are 1.79 million users. In 2009 Uber, Airbnb, and Instagram did not exist.
Change permeates nearly every facet of life. The dark alchemy of disruption and unpredictability demand a new way of thinking and planning in recruiting international students. Beyond the corridors of today lie new educational delivery paradigms and different ways of communicating with prospective international students and their parents.
Several weeks ago, on this blog site, I predicted that one of the countries that may realize an increase in international students since Brexit and the results of the U.S. election was Canada. There is now some proof that this prediction may become reality.
Consider the following:
The University of Toronto reported a ten- fold increase in website visits from the U.S. one day after the election.
The University of British Columbia received more than 30,000 visits to a single graduate program on the evening of the U.S. election.
“Times Higher Education” reported a significant increase in readers of their article on the best universities in Canada.
There are several reasons to account for an increasing interest in studying in Canada including:
Canadian recruiters have conducted effective and efficient recruiting campaigns not only in the U.S but also in China, India and Pakistan.
Canadian officials have changed application, visa and employment regulations, making it easier for international applicants to apply, get a visa, work and remain in Canada after graduation. Perhaps Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, put it best: “We must be an open society-one that welcomes new ideas, creative ways of thinking, and different cultures and people.”
Canada’s affordable cost of living makes it a more desirable destination, especially when comparing tuition and living costs in the U.S.
Safety and deportation concerns, according to some international recruiters and agents, are impacting interest in the U.S.
We will not know until fall enrollment numbers exactly if Canada’s national approach to international student recruitment and enrollment will have on enrollment in other countries, especially in the U.S.
I, for one, am betting on Canada.
Quartet of questions to ask before implementing international student recruiting plans
Colleges and universities who want to successfully recruit and enroll international students will find it necessary to use the basics of big data and predictive analytics to create evidence-based international recruitment strategies based on analytical databases that can provide administrators with speedy, actionable information to make smart decisions, re-align and re-allocate staff time, financial resources and prioritize international markets. Asking the right questions is essential.
I would begin with asking the following four questions of prospective, accepted and deposited students and their parents.
What made you apply and when?
Instead of basing future recruitment plans on what happened last year, international recruiters should know what part of their branding proposition prompted prospective applicants to apply and at what point in the application process they decided to apply.
After Acceptance and Deposit
Ask accepted and deposited applicants when they decided to accept your school’s offer of admission and what were the deciding factors.
What communication did your school have with accepted and deposited students that contributed to their acceptance of your admission offer?
Prospective applicants and accepted students who did not enroll
While it is critical for any successful international recruitment plan to know why and when applicants enrolled, so too is it essential to know why prospective students and accepted applicants chose not to enroll. Information from this group of prospective students can shed light on the parts of your branding proposition that are ineffective.
Questions for Parents
Most colleges and universities do not have a communication plan for parents from the time of application to deposit. But parents can, and do, weigh in on where their child will enroll. International deans should communicate directly with parents to determine what part of the branding proposition prompted parents to support acceptance of admission.
The value of getting this information in real time allows international strategic plans to be adjusted, not after the recruitment year, but during the active stages of the recruitment year.
The value of getting this information in real time can alert international strategic planners as to which parts of their branding proposition are resonating with prospective students and which parts are not and make the necessary adjustments.
The value of getting this information in real time allows strategic planners to create data-driven hypotheses that can strategically guide strategic recruitment decisions.
The old planning process based on reliance on agents, random attendance at international fairs, and the use of international view books are not the elements of successful strategic plans in 2017. The competition is too tough and the moving pieces are moving too fast.
The dark alchemy of disruption and unpredictability demand a new way of thinking and planning.