Recruiting International Students: Colleges Go Direct

The hunt for revenues continues for colleges. With strained budgets and weakened endowments, colleges are in perpetual hunt for sources of alternative revenues. For the last two decades, it was all about expanding their product lines by offering graduate programs, certificates, degree completion, corporate training, and online programs. Now, with drums of riches beating in distant lands, hunt for international students is all the rage. What’s keeping enrollment managers up at night is how does one go about attracting the elite kids from emerging economies?

Well, like all other trends, a colony of international recruiting agents have emerged, willing to sell colleges names of international prospects for a fee or revenue share. However, we at Elliance are of the belief that colleges need to take control of their own destiny not not relegate their destiny to the recruiting agents. Here is the five step process we are recommending to our clients:

1. Make international student welcome by weaving them into the marketing touch points such as website, viewbook, and social media outlets. Craft brand messaging and content that is inclusive of people of different races and faiths. If international students can’t see others like themselves there, they simply won’t show up.

2. Feature proof points such as office of international students, interfaith chapels, host family programs, international ambassadors, etc.

3. Create customized sections for admissions, financial aid and scholarships that address the unique needs of international students. Because international students heavily rely on word-of-mouth from friends, we recommend featuring global alumni chapters, star alumni and enrolled international students so prospects get a chance to meet and chat with local “friends”.

4. Prominently feature institutional reputation points because international students are more brand sensitive than the US students.

5. Secure top rankings on search engines for reputation keywords, because that’s how prospective international students tend to search.

Our work with St. Edward’s and Duquesne University’s MBA is Sustainability embodies our thinking.

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