About Marguerite Dennis

Marguerite Dennis has been recruiting internationally for over 25 years, first at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and then at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. During that time she was responsible for establishing a branch campus for Suffolk University in Dakar, Senegal and Madrid, Spain. Marguerite increased the international student population at Suffolk University by 193% from 1993 to 2011 and increased the number of study abroad programs by 135%, from 20 to 47. She monitored the recruitment programs for Suffolk University in 20 countries and hired a network of 10 international educational consultants. She signed agreements in Viet Nam, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Germany, Mexico, France and Argentina.

Higher Education Fallacies


Higher Education Fallacies

“Yesterday’s answer has nothing to do with today’s problem.” Bill Gates


One of the most challenging aspects of being a college administrator today is the fast pace of change. Understanding market forces, changing demographics, and economic and political re-alignments worldwide, make it difficult to match facts with fallacies.

What are some of the fallacies?

Ten Higher Education Fallacies

Demand for higher education is inelastic

Higher education will always be consumed the same way

International students will always enroll in the UK and the United States

The promise of MOOCs and online education will never be realized

Chinese higher education enrollment will never surpass the enrollment of international students in the United States

Current business models are sufficient to meet financial problems

If enrollment goals are not met, change the marketing and enrollment staff

Administrative bloat is not a problem

Artificial intelligence is not important; has no place in higher education

Competency-based credits will never be accepted.

What would you add to this list?

“The future? The things that got her here will not get us there.”

Peter Drucker


How to Recruit International Students in the Future

How to recruit international students in the future

Few higher education deans and administrators would argue that 2019 has been a year of change both in the United States and worldwide. Economic and geopolitical disruptions have created a new world order with implications for most aspects of society, including future international student mobility and enrollment.

The stakes are high for countries and colleges and universities who recruit international students.

Consider the following:

Since 2,000, the number of overseas students has increased by 80 percent.

International students contributed $42 billion to the U.S. economy last year.

By 2025, global demand for seats in higher education is projected to be 200 million students.

The four international recruiting recommendations, outlined in this article, is an attempt to encourage international deans and recruiters to consider the following ways of recruiting international students in the future.

Four suggestions

Use data analytics and predictive modeling to determine why applicants enroll (or do not enroll) in your college or university.

Creatively use technology to offer students year-long semesters with several options for reaching degree completion.

Partner with national and international colleges and universities, even competitor schools.

Recruit entire families, not just applicants.

Use data analytics to write and implement international strategic plans

Are your school’s international recruiters able to answer the following questions:

What is the prime motivator for prospective applicants to apply to your school?

At what point in the application process is a decision made to enroll? What is the main reason for this decision?

These questions should also be asked of applicants and accepted students who did not complete the application process.

Data analytics can help your recruitment team know, in real time, what is making prospective applicants apply, and accepted students, enroll.

I am defining data analytics as databases and algorithms that can provide international strategic planners and recruiters with speedy, actionable information in order to make smart recruitment decisions and re-allocate staff time and resources.

What behavioral information can be applied to better recruit and enroll international students? Data analytics can shed light on the parts of your school’s branding proposition that are resonating with prospective international students and which are not. This information can be used to create evidence-based international strategies in real-time as opposed to waiting for end-of-the-year analysis. Data collection and a commitment to insight and discovery are key to crafting meaningful international strategic plans.

Flexibility will increasingly become the currency of higher education this year and in the years to come. Data analytics and predictive modeling are two tools that can bring flexibility into strategic international plans and create data-driven hypotheses to inform strategic decisions.

Creatively use technology to offer students year-long semesters with several options for reaching degree completion

According to the report, Digital Learning Compass: Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017, 30 percent or 6.3 million students worldwide, were enrolled in at least one online course in 2016.

In 2018, massive open online enrollment exceeded 100 million students. This was a 30 percent increase over the previous year

China’s online education market is projected to increase to 20 percent annually. This increase represents approximately a $24 billion online market.

Since 2006, more than 160 million Khan Academy videos have been viewed. There are between 14 and 15 million users each month.

While the jury is still out on the shelf life of MOOCs, I believe that learning platforms like Udacity, edX, Coursera and FutureLearn will change higher education delivery forever.

What does all this mean for future international recruiting? Offering your school’s on-line courses or accepting, for credit, a MOOC course, would allow international admission deans to offer international students “brick and click” options that extend beyond the “normal” school year.

International students could earn credits during intersession breaks or in the summer taking an approved technology-based course.

Partner with national and international colleges and universities, even competitor schools

Have you considered partnering with a peer national or international institution to offer international applicants the best of both institutions?

Have you reviewed the international student enrollment of schools in your area or region and compared that information with your own international statistics? What does your school do better than your competitors What majors or programs do your competitors offer that are better than what your school offers?

Have you considered joint recruitment trips, highlighting the best programs and majors of each school? What about collaborating and writing joint recruitment plans? Or offering dual degrees?

Does this sound like heresy? Sounds like interdependence to me and could be one way to creatively face a disruptive future.

Many colleges and universities are still recruiting in silos, hoping that past recruitment practices will continue to be relevant in the new, worldwide changing political, economic and educational landscapes.

Recruit entire families, not just applicants

Most colleges and universities who recruit international students have a communication outreach plan; an admission “funnel.” Traditional communication plans are management tools, not 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:

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 a current student


Letter from alumni parent

Accepted applicants

Name and contact information of faculty advisor

List of first semester courses


Letter from president, board chair

Deposited students

Roommate selection


Counseling services for international students

Important contact information for school administrators and services


Change permeates nearly every facet of life. The dark alchemy of disruption and unpredictability demand a new way of thinking and planning when recruiting international students. Beyond the corridors of today lie new educational delivery paradigms and new “types” of students.

The métier of flexibility, collaboration and the smart use of technology will be among the hallmarks of successful international recruiting in the future.


International Higher Education Myths

Alternative international higher education myths

At the risk of being accused of being politically correct (or incorrect), I would like to share with you some of the international higher education myths I have uncovered over the past few months.


The U.S. continues leads the world in attracting international students.


Last year, the U.S. had a 10 percent increase in international students. But Canada increased its international student population by 13 percent, and Australia and New Zealand increased the number of students studying on its campuses by 12 percent.


The demand for higher education is greatest in Europe.


The demand for higher education in South Asia is exploding. With a population of more than 600 million under the age of 18, and with the rapid pace of social and economic changes taking place in the region, South Asia is poised to take over Western Europe and the U.S. as a primary choice for enrollment. This fact may not be reflected in next year’s enrollment statistics, but this is a trend that I would watch closely for future recruitment threats and opportunities.


International hubs and branch campuses will continue to increase in the future.


International hubs may increase in the future but I predict regional hubs, rather than international hubs, will grow faster.


The Asian middle class has grown faster than any other region in the world.


The Asian middle class has increased in numbers over the past two decades but the African middle class has tripled over the past 14 years from 4.6 million households in 2000 to 15 million in 2016.


The UK continues to be the number one choice for U.S. students studying abroad.


The fastest growing market for U.S. students is Germany. The number of U.S. students studying in Germany is estimated to be 10,000. Most of the students pay no tuition.


The fastest growing Chinese market will be at the graduate and undergraduate level.


Chinese teenagers, as young as 14, are enrolling in high schools throughout the world in increasing numbers. Last year, for example, the number of Chinese high school students was nearly 50,000. This is 100 times more than in 2004.

These are but a few of the myths and facts in international higher education. More to come in the future.

Five Myths

Five myths, five international enrollment projections and one disturbing report


“Get your facts first, and then you can distort as much as you please.”

                                                                                           Mark Twain



The United States leads the world in attracting international students.


In 1970, the percentage of international students enrolling in American colleges and universities was 36.7 percent. By 2001, the percentage was 28 and by 2017 the figure declined to 24 percent.

In 2017, the United States increased the number of new international students by 3.0 percent. But in the same year Canada increased the number of enrolled international students by 20.0 percent and Australian numbers increased by 13.0 percent. Germany’s international student numbers increased by 5.5 percent and France’s numbers increased by 4.6 percent.

The United States may enroll more international students than any other country but it continues to lose market share. Other countries, especially China, with a more than ten percent annual increase in international student enrollment, are catching up fast.


The demand for higher education is greatest in Europe.


The demand for higher education in Asia far exceeds that of Europe. With a population of more than 600 million under the age of 18, and with the rapid pace of social and economic changes taking place in the region, Asian students are poised to enroll in tertiary education more than any other region in the world.


The Asian middle class has grown faster than any other region in the world.


While the Asian middle class has increased over the past two decades, the African middle class has tripled over the past 14 years from 4.6 million households in 2000 to 15 million in 2016.


Great Britain continues to be the number one choice for American students studying abroad.


The fastest growing market for American students studying abroad is Germany. Most of the students pay no tuition and many of the courses are taught in English. The uncertainty surrounding Great Britain’s leaving the European Union may be impacting where American students study abroad.


The fastest growing Chinese market will be at the graduate and undergraduate level.


Chinese teenagers, as young as 14, are enrolling in high schools throughout the world in increasing numbers. In 2016, the number of Chinese students enrolled in high schools was over 50,000. This is 100 times more than in 2004.


Five international enrollment projections

Higher education enrollment is projected to reach 332 million by 2030, an increase of 56 percent, or 120 million, from 2015.

The number of internationally mobile students is projected to be 6.9 million by 2030, an increase of 51 percent, or 2.3 million students.

By 2030, there will be 163 million more adults with a college degree compared to 2013.

More than half of all people around the world, 3.97 billion, live in just seven countries: China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, and Nigeria. China, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Bangladesh are expected to be the biggest international student growth markets in the future. International deans and recruiters are well served to study and further research this projection.

I believe future international strategic plans should be based on data-driven research of the countries with the greatest potential for future enrollment.

One disturbing report

The recently released British Council report, International student mobility to 2027: Local investment, local outcomes, predicts a slowing of outbound student mobility over the next decade. Information is drawn from UNESCO and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Population Division, along with data from Oxford Economics. A decreasing number of Chinese students studying abroad is part of the reason for the projected decline as is an increase in local higher education opportunities and online accessibility.




International Fundraising Program Part 2



International Fundraising Program



If you read my last blog, you will remember that at one point in my administrative career I was responsible not only for enrollment and retention but for fundraising and alumni affairs. At the time of my appointment most of my colleagues did not believe that one person could be successful for the “whole ball of wax.” I must admit that I too was skeptical. But the president assured me that I knew how to market the school. So in addition to marketing to parents and students I would now market to alumni and other donors.

My strategic fundraising plan included raising funds from international families and donors to meet my goal. At the end of the campaign, international families contributed 30 percent of the final total.

What made this possible was the administrative structure.  Since I was responsible for recruitment, including international recruitment, I was aware, at the time of recruitment, of the families who were able to become donors in the future.

Let me be clear about acceptance. Not one student was accepted because of the fundraising capacity of the family. “Friend raising” began after acceptance and enrollment. But since the families knew me, in some cases, for one or two years, when it came time to ask for a donation, the parents were receptive because the relationship was already established.

I realize you will read this next sentence with skepticism. But it is true. No international parent who was asked to contribute to our campaign turned me down.  Raising money from international families was the easiest part of completing the campaign.

I realize this administrative structure is unique. I don’t know of another college or university who is organized to have a vice president for enrollment also responsible for being a vice president for development. This would not work at 99% of schools. But there may be one college reading this blog who thinks it would work and give it a try. I think it’s worth exploring.