3 Pitfalls to Avoid in International Student Recruitment

Posted by Sean McGladdery April 13, 2017

If you have international students, many of you have read articles listing strategies to employ when it comes to a recruitment plan. While sharing best practices is necessary, schools following the same generic strategy as one another, does not ensure that they arrive at the same successful destination. There is a lot to be considered when developing your own unique international student recruitment strategy, but it is critical to understand these three common pitfalls and how to avoid them:

1. Don’t think short term!

You may be relying on international student recruitment to supplement domestic enrollment, or to provide your students with a more globalized experience. However, before you begin the process of international student recruitment, consider creating a 3 to 5 year strategy. This will allow you to examine the effects of potential international student numbers in specific grade levels for years to come. It will also allow you to recognize how you can diversify your international student population over time, as certain markets may take longer to develop a pipeline of students than others. Like any good strategy you can adapt and change aspects of your approach per what targets have been met or missed. As you move from one point to the next, you will want to adjust your strategy so it continues to have a 3 to 5 year projection.

2. Don’t underestimate the value of integration!

On a strategic level, it is essential that your international student recruitment strategy is integrated with your marketing and domestic admissions allowing them to work cohesively towards your overall strategic plan. The needs of international students are unique because they require additional services such as visa support, transcript evaluations, English language learning, and accommodation. It is imperative to your success that staff, faculty and students feel supported. Be realistic and get buy in from all your stakeholders.

3. Don’t rely on low hanging fruit!

Many schools become reliant on a single international student source market. Unfortunately, this is a mistake that is repeated far too often. This leads to a short-term strategy that can derail your 3 to 5 year plan and create an inability to diversify your international student population at a later stage. There are many macro factors such as political climate or economics that can affect international student recruitment, and for that reason schools need to have a risk averse strategy. This will ensure that you can source students from secondary markets should a macro factor affect student mobility from a primary market. The understanding to recruit from a variety of markets ensures a more risk averse strategy and a healthier diversity in your international student body.

The ultimate truth is that there is no quick or easy approach to ensure success in international student recruitment. Its nature is international and therefore a school must be prepared to be proactive and dynamic in their approach to navigate the various socio-political or socio-economic challenges that can be encountered. To assume that a generic strategy would work for your school without considering your enrollment needs, geographic location, selling points, and current financial standing is unrealistic. Trust experience, learn from others’ mistakes, think outside the box, and be prepared to be agile in your approach.

About Sean McGladdery

Sean is the Director of Global Student Recruitment & Admissions at UTP High Schools. He has over 10 years’ experience in international recruitment and admissions strategy on the university and high school levels. Throughout his career, Sean has been based in the United States, United Kingdom, Vietnam and Thailand.

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