Why and Where You Should Recruit International Students

GWhy and where you should recruit international students

The number of college students in the United States has been declining since 2010 when about 21 million people were enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities. According to a report issued by the National Student Clearinghouse, in the fall of 2014, there were 812,069 fewer students enrolled in higher education institutions.

Low birthrates in many European countries and some Asian countries, namely Japan, have resulted in fewer potential college students in those countries.

Worldwide demographic and societal changes have resulted in an “arms race” by many countries and many colleges and universities to enroll as many full-paying international students as possible.

The Intelligence Unit of “The Economist,” has released a report titled “Education to 2030,” that claims that economic, social and technological developments are making a quality education more important than ever before. And the report forecasts growth in the global economic sector for the next several years.

The recent past decades have witnessed tremendous growth in the numbers of students from China, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. But economic and political changes in each of those countries warrants caution.  Colleges and universities worldwide who have relied on enrollments from these countries to help meet financial goals should begin to re-evaluate and re-write their strategic international recruitment plans and diversify their international student population.

Where should you recruit?

In addition to recommending recruiting in Iran, Vietnam, and India, I would suggest the following:

According to the International School Consultancy, there are more than 4.3 million students being educated at more than 8,200 international schools worldwide. By 2026, enrollment is projected to reach 8.7 million. Students enrolled in international schools should be considered as primary recruitment markets.

The United Arab Emirates is the global leader in English medium school enrollment. There are more than half a million students enrolled in 548 international schools in the Emirates. I would take another look at the schools in the Emirates for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Malaysia is emerging as a higher education superpower, both in terms of numbers and quality of education. The country has the largest number of international students in the region and has recently emerged as a priority destination among students from rapidly developing countries. Last year Malaysia enrolled approximately 150,000 students and by the year 2020, plans to increase that number to 200,000. This is a country that is prime for both developing either combined degree programs or articulation agreements or for graduate student enrollment.

Germany has about 400 higher education institutions and is a leader in Europe for attracting both degree seeking and study abroad students. As with Malaysia, there are many areas of potential collaboration with German institutions.

Next steps

Few schools have the resources to develop several new recruitment markets. Select the countries most compatible with what your school has to offer, do the necessary research, get approval, create meaningful marketing messages, train your international recruiters and develop analytics that will guide future plans.

PS Just read this. Proposed legislation in California would limit the number of out of state and international students to 10 percent of public colleges and universities. If this gets approved I expect other states to follow with similar legislation.


This entry was posted in Colleges, International Education, International students, Private Clients, The New College Guide, Universities by Marguerite Dennis. Bookmark the permalink.

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.

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