Ideas, insights and inspirations.

With strained budgets, weakened endowments and the anticipated demographic cliff when college bound undergraduates will begin to shrink, colleges are eyeing international students from emerging economies. With over one million international students heading to the US in 2023, the race is on to attract the brightest and most financially well-off international students.  Our clients have started asking us to prepare a playbook for successfully recruiting and growing international student enrollment. In increasing and significantly growing enrollment for international programs for the past 25 years for numerous colleges and universities, we have learned two things: First, students can’t buy your programs or buy-into your university unless they can find you; Second, you can’t bore students into enrolling in your university. To succeed, universities must invest in first impressions, and deploy a unique balance of the marketing air-game, boots-on-the-ground game and follow-up contact strategies. INVEST IN FIRST IMPRESSIONS INSTITUTIONAL TOUCH POINTS Your website and social media are the most important touch points … Continue reading

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The Elliance team recently partnered with Manchester Business School’s Miami Center to market its unique global MBA program. Manchester Business School is a prestigious brand in the world of business education. Working with this global client has helped us appreciate some of the changing trends in the higher education world, including the enormous increase in the international student population in the US over the past few years. At Elliance, we started noticing this trend in our own Analytics reports a few years ago. The initial indicator was an increase in search traffic from ‘international student enrollment’ and ‘international recruitment’ related phrases. To see how demand for ‘international student enrollment’ has changed over time, we used Ngram Viewer to chart out the mentions for this topic. In the chart below, we can see the trend appearing around the seventies and then really taking off in the late eighties and nineties. More proof is evident in a recent Open Doors report on … Continue reading

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At Elliance, we believe that a mix of smart website structure and content, search engine optimization and pay per click (PPC) work can effectively grow the pool of international prospects.

Here are some areas to focus on when you consider a PPC campaign for recruiting international students.

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Coming to the US as an international student is a big decision. It’s a decision that foreign students rarely make on their own; the decision typically involves parents, grandparents, extended families, teachers and school counselors. Instead of asking what website features should be built to facilitate this important decision, let’s try to answer the underlying questions about the school being asked by the entire group: 1. Is the college reputable and committed to excellence? Money is hard to earn everywhere, but specially in emerging markets the exchange rate raises the importance of this question. A college that elevates its reputation hallmarks to the surface will find ready acceptance specially with parents, grandparents and family networks. 2. Does the college offer innovative and interesting programs? Why would international students travel overseas if they can find the programs in their local markets. Indian and Chinese students tend to value innovative science, engineering and technology programs. Koreans tend to gravitate towards the innovative … Continue reading

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Popular digital strategies for recruiting international students include multilingual websites, active participation in indigenous social media portals, and international SEO. Since everyone is talking about them, I decided to go on a hunt for some unusual ones. Here are a few interesting ones I uncovered: 1. International Scholarship Contests. We ran one to promote Carnegie Mellon’s entry in the middle east. Here is one from Sweden that is actively running 2. Promote your college via state consortia like StudyNewYork,, etc. 3. Use Mobile Multilingual Virtual Tours. A company called YouVisit is producing these tours. 4. Use Skype to connect with international prospects. Have you seen other interesting digital strategies lately? Learn more about our higher education marketing services.

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Social media is increasingly important in creating brand awareness, generating inquiries and at improving yield (the percentage of accepted applicants who choose to signal their intention to enroll by paying a deposit). Recruiting international students from emerging economies is vastly different from recruiting students from US & Europe in four important ways. First, they are typically making decisions jointly with their parents and even grandparents; second, they are surrounded by recruiting agents eager to advise them; third, they are inundated with study-abroad websites; fourth, they are not seeing many US colleges and universities in their search results because international SEO investments have not been a priority . Consequently, social media has become an important decision making tool for the college decision. Smart schools are pioneering social media techniques to build trust with prospective international students and their families. They are: 1. Crafting a country-specific strategy. What works in China won’t work in India or Brazil. 2. Creating and managing presence … Continue reading

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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 … Continue reading

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