Fewer International Students Coming to the US? Here Are 4 easy Things You Can Do About It
Are International Students Shying Away from U.S. Colleges? Data suggests they might be, but there’s something your institution can do to reach them.
Present numbers indicate that fewer international students enrolled in U.S. universities and colleges at the start of the 2020-2021 academic year. This is most likely due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, but how should your higher ed institution be responding to these challenges?
- Only 38.5% of higher ed institutions in the U.S. use recruitment agents to recruit international students
- Dependence on a few agents in some regions could leave a higher ed institution vulnerable to social, political, and economic instability in that region
- Only the handful of brands known the world over — like Oxford, Yale, Cambridge, and Harvard — can shirk the need to promote their institutions in new markets
- Less than half of higher ed institutions communicate with their recruitment agents on a daily or weekly basis
As student behavior changes with the New Normal and the market for international students becomes more competitive, universities and colleges may realize the need to revisit traditional recruitment systems and question old assumptions. You’ve certainly felt the pinch and may be wondering how to improve engagement with international students as a means of meeting your recruitment goals. Here are four easy things you can do to help the situation.
1. Use recruitment agents in international student recruitment
Recruitment agents are crucial to bringing international students to your higher ed institution. If you have yet to incorporate this measure into the recruitment playbook, your university is most likely lagging behind in international recruitment.
Indeed, recruitment agents are one of the leading factors for high international student recruitment rates in places like Australia and Canada. Even in places like the U.S. where the adoption of commission-based recruitment was slower, numbers have been picking up ever since the legalization of the process in 2013. In 2017, up to 38.5% of U.S. higher ed institutions admitted to using agents for recruitments.
Recruitment agents are already playing a big part in recruiting international students for universities and colleges the world over. Given the higher rates of competition today, that role only seems poised to grow in importance.
2. Diversify your international student recruitment strategies
It would be a mistake to rely solely on one tactic, recruiters, to bring international students to your school. Higher ed institutions would do better by diversifying their international student recruitment strategies to incorporate digital marketing strategies that use the school’s website as a starting and ending point for the entire recruitment process.
Your website can be accessed from any part of the world, giving wider reach to lead generation efforts and offering entry into areas recruiting agents may not even have an agent operating in. Not only does digital marketing make you more resistant to unforeseen changes in any one region, it also enables your institution to cultivate a richly diverse student body drawn from all over the world that, in turn, makes your institution more attractive to students from other parts of the world.
3. Promote your brand in new regions and markets
Breaking into new markets by promoting your brand in new regions is a crucial part of any international recruitment efforts. Only a few brands known and trusted worldwide, like Harvard and Yale, can shy away from doing this.
Agents can raise awareness about your institution among prospective students and talk about your reputation, credentials, and other factors that students consider important when considering their higher education prospects.
In addition to that, digital marketing strategies and online recruitment campaigns aimed at international students from new regions could be just as effective at raising awareness and answering questions about your school. For example, investing in SEO for your higher ed institution could reduce the cost of recruitment and reap further benefits for your school’s brand for a long time.
4. Maintain accurate information about your brand in international markets
One of the most important issues to consider when recruiting international students is information. Students are able to make the best choices for their future when they have the most accurate information available to them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, especially as the majority of universities and colleges that use recruitment agents report that they fail to communicate with them on a daily and weekly basis. Not only does this allow the dissemination of outdated, diluted, or outrightly wrong information about your school, it also leaves students unprepared for the rigors of studying in your environment.
For example, institutions in Canada and the northern regions of the U.S. often find international students are somewhat unprepared for the low temperatures that are normal to that environment. Situations like this only lead to negative reviews and ultimately poorer chances of recruiting international students.
Fortunately, digital strategies like sharing video content via your higher ed website and social media channels are a great way to give international students an accurate picture of what life and studies are like at your institution.
Get a higher ed website your international students will love
For more than 12 years, KWALL has been the foremost partner of higher ed institutions looking to succeed online with powerful web experiences that consistently attract the right sort of attention from international students. They have worked with over 100 colleges and universities, helping them manage their on-brand web presence through specialized higher education web design and development.
If your school needs someone to help make sense of the rapidly changing dynamics of student recruitment, contact KWALL today