How to Recruit International Students in 2018

March 7th, 2017 by

How to recruit international students in 2018.

No there is no typo in the headline of this article. I believe
that because of the referendum in the UK, and the election
results in the U.S., many international students in 2017 will
walk away from both countries and consider others, like
Australia, Canada and China for their undergraduate and
graduate education. Already there are signs that the Indian
market, looking for stability and a pathway to employment
after graduation, are seeking alternatives to studying in the
UK and U.S.
In his most recent book, Thank You for Being Late the
New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, quotes Lin
Wells who teaches strategy at the national Defense
University and who describes three ways of looking at
problems: inside the box, outside the box, and thinking
“without a box.”
This blog post, and the one that follows, is my attempt to
look at future international student recruiting “without a
box.” My recommendation is for international college and
university deans and recruiters to begin now to
strategically plan for recruiting international students in
To begin, I suggest you research new opportunities. Read
everything you can on the geopolitical and economic
changes taking place around the world because sooner or
later these changes will impact international student
mobility. My research includes reading The Economist, Ian

International Students Past & Future

February 28th, 2017 by

Group of Asian StudentsInternational 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

February 14th, 2017 by

Depositphotos_36345411_s-2015International 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:

Pre-Application  Stage


Send information about career counseling, job placement rates, graduation statistics


Letter from current international parent

Application Stage


Send information about student services for international students, organizations, clubs, athletics

Letter from current student


Letter from alumni parent

Accepted Applicants

Letter from faculty advisor

List of first semester courses


Letter from president, board chair

Deposited Students

Roommate selection


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.


Oh Canada

January 31st, 2017 by




Oh Canada!



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.




Quintet of Recommendations for International Student Recruiting in 2017

January 17th, 2017 by

3d rendering of 5 gold stars

Quintet of Recommendations for International Student Recruiting in 2017

If you read last week’s blog post, you learned of five predictions I made for international student recruiting in 2017. In this week’s post I will share with you my quintet of recommendations for how to recruit in the new year.

Diversify your current strategic international recruiting plans

Many years ago I was a young admission counselor at Georgetown University  in Washington, D.C. At the time Georgetown had one of the largest number of undergraduate students from Iran in the country. Then came the Iranian Revolution in 1978 and almost overnight the Iranian students were gone. I learned all those years ago never to put all of my international enrollment eggs in one basket. It is difficult to imagine fewer students from China or Saudi Arabia. But that will be the new reality in 2017. China’s population of college age students will decline by 20 percent by 2020 and the perception that Muslim students are not welcomed in the U.S. will result in fewer students from the Middle East enrolling in colleges and universities in the U.S. And then there is Brexit!

What this means for future international student recruitment is change. Despite past enrollments from specific countries, strategic international planners will be forced to re-write past international strategic plans. I recommend that in planning for future international outreach, international deans look at countries with a rising middle class as well as strong projected GDP growth. (The “Economist” has a wonderful section on the world in numbers that can assist with getting this information.) Strategic planners should also take into account the geopolitical and economic changes sweeping across the globe, creating new global economic and political realities.

Articulation and Bilateral Agreements, International Linkages, Study Abroad Programs

Review all of your current agreements to determine if collaboration is possible with any of the countries with whom you already have some partnership. Convene a meeting of all of the academic and international staff responsible for these agreements and brainstorm about the potential for more robust collaboration. I recommend reading a publication from the Institute of International Education, “ Global Perspectives on Strategic Partnerships.”

Summer Programs and Future Enrollment

In one of my former positions and vice president for international programs, I was able to create an innovative summer program, combining academic, for-credit courses with cultural events. The students in the summer were potential students for future spring or fall semesters. Effective marketing to these students resulted in a 12 percent enrollment in degree programs. The same mentality was applied to study abroad students although the results were not as good as with the summer students. But both of these cohorts have the potential to become degree seeking students in the future.

Online Enrollment

I know the jury is still out on the value of MOOC courses. However, there is no doubt that online enrollment, especially for students from India and Africa, is growing. The statistics change weekly which is why I am not listing the number of enrollments, etc. By the time you read this, the figures will be different. Online enrollment should be a part of any international strategic plan. When online courses were made available to our students in the summer, 30 percent of international students, especially students from the Middle East enrolled in the offered courses.

Partner with Other Colleges or Universities

Heresy? No the reality is that it may be more beneficial for two schools to offer a combination of courses leading to a degree from both of the schools. What are your strongest majors and what are the strongest majors of a competitor school or another local college or university?

These recommendations are not easy. But neither are the consequences of planning enrollment and budget goals around a certain number of international students from specific countries and then not meeting the goals because the international student recruitment landscape has changed.

My next blog will list the four questions you should ask before writing your strategic plan for this year. The questions will surprise you.