International student recruitment is imperative for all UK-based universities and further education institutions. There are lots of benefits to be gained by attracting a great degree of international students to your facility. Nevertheless, it would be far too costly and virtually impossible to effectively advertise your institution to every single country and every single city on the planet. This is why your recruitment strategy is of paramount importance. Not only do you need to consider where your recruitment is going to be aimed, but you also need to determine how you are going to go about attracting the students as well.
Why is international student recruitment important?
Firstly, it puts your facility on the map. You will gain recognition and be seen as a culturally diverse institution. This has a snowball effect, meaning more and more students will be attracted to your university. This is of significant importance in the present day. After all, business is conducted on a global scale. This means that there is a rise in international collaboration, trans-national education, international teaching activities, staff mobility and such like. It is imperative that you adapt to this.
Putting together an international recruitment strategy
Yet, adapting to these trends in the right way is important. There are so many different factors you must take into account. Your initial concern will be determining what cities and countries to focus on. This can be a lot more difficult than you may imagine. You can’t merely think about the students you’d like to attract, you also need to think about the type of students that are going to want to come to your university. This is why knowing about different segments of students and what they want is important, so you can determine what groups you should be focusing on. Once you have done this, you will then need to think about what recruitment channels you are going to use.
Strivers, strugglers, highfliers and explorers…
The first thing you need to do is make sure you are aware of the different international student segments. Generally, international students can be split up into the following four categories – strivers, strugglers, highfliers and explorers. Let’s take a look at each one in more detail…
Strivers are students that have high academic preparedness yet low financial resources. Lots of students fall into this category. They form a traditional assortment of students who rely on external sources of funding in order to see themselves through university. In fact, approximately 60 per cent do. Based on a research report conducted by the World Education Services Inc (WES), more than half of all Indian students interviewed were considered strivers.
The next segment we have is strugglers. Strugglers also have low financial resources, yet they also have low academic preparedness as well. It’s unlikely that strugglers will be interested in further education, and those that do will not have high expectations when it comes to quality.
Highfliers are students that boast high academic preparedness and high financial resources. Most of these students are supported by their family’s money in this instance. China is the location where the largest proportion of highfliers comes from, totalling 35 per cent of the population.
And finally, we have explorers. Explorers are students that also have high financial resources, yet their academic preparedness is low.
Research like this is important, as it helps you to steer your international student recruitment strategy in the right direction. For instance, if you consider your institute to be an extremely prestigious facility, with high fees and premium quality education, you’re unlikely to want to advertise to locations whereby there is a large degree of ‘strugglers’. In fact, you won’t want to focus your strategy on the likes of India either. Why? Whilst most students may have the drive to succeed, but it’s unlikely they will have the financial resources. Instead, you’d be best off focusing on highfliers.
Your marketing plan
Now you know why it is imperative to consider what countries you are going to market to in relation to their student profile. The next thing you need to think about is how you are actually going to market to them. There are lots of great traditional methods that are in place for international student recruitment. Staff exchanges are popular, as is collaborating with student unions. You also need to think about the integration process. Students want to feel safe in the knowledge that they are going to be welcome and that it will be easy for them to settle in. Therefore, it is important for a big emphasis to be placed on this. Of course, your marketing strategy is going to be tailored to the students you are trying to attract, which is why it is vital to refer to the student segments mentioned earlier. You should also gather information regarding how students search for information about universities in the country you are trying to recruit from.
It is also crucial to think about how you are going to adapt your marketing campaign to suit the times. You can’t keep your international student recruitment strategy stagnant, especially in today’s digital world. Social media platforms offer an excellent way of appealing to students in different countries. From Facebook to LinkedIn, there are many different ways students will benefit from gathering information from these pages. One of the best things about going down this route is the fact that it is extremely cost effective. This is ideal for universities that have a strict budget. Other modern tactics you should consider using are SEO and content. Not only is this a good way to guarantee that your university features high up on the search engine result pages, but students will appreciate that there is a lot of information about what you have to offer. After all, when looking for universities and educational institutes today, international students will start their search online. Not only do you need to share content yourself, but you need to feature in respected publications. If your facility offers aviation courses and you are trying to attract international students, not only do you need to engage on social media and run your own blog, but you need to target guest posts, online newspapers and such like. Featuring in a well-respected list of the top 10 UK aviation courses could skyrocket your reputation. The same goes for any type of institute and any type of course. Moreover, content is a brilliant way of marketing, as it is indirect. You are empowering the students with knowledge in the hope that they use this knowledge to then choose your university.
To conclude, there is no denying that the recruitment of international students is an imperative area of consideration for all universities. Use the tips above to devise the perfect strategy.