Attention. That’s what colleges are looking for, visibility for their brand. They seek to have wider international projection as the academic market is taking on a more competitive environment. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract students’ attention because of the different stimuli already established or emerging in the environment of recruitment. This competitiveness has caused universities to raise the level of their strategies and have ‘forced’ them to look for another student profile.
Given the new needs, universities are making the leap to attract international students interested in temporary exchanges.
An exchange program is when a student, usually from high school or university, decides to reside in a country for a certain time to learn their language and culture. Originally, this concept was about exchanging students from different countries, but today it is not necessary for the family in question to host another student from another country and vice versa.
In 2014, 3.6 million university students were studying in a country other than theirs. In the last decade, the number of students studying abroad has grown by 80%. It should be noted that these figures do not represent the number of students enrolled in exchange programs for half a year or one year, therefore the numbers would be significantly increased by demand in recent years.
USA is in luck; is the country of choice for the world’s university students. According to UNESCO, the United States receives more than 20% of the total students who decide to go abroad to study. On the other hand, the UK takes second place with 11%, followed by Australia with 9%, France with 7%, followed by Germany with 6% and Japan with 4%. It is a reality that the United States is the country that gets the most attention of international students, either thanks to the fantasy granted by countless Hollywood films, or just because of simple popularity.
Just as the United States is the big draw for students, China is the country that sends the most students abroad. China sends more than half a million students abroad, followed by India with 200,000 students. Third place is the Republic of Korea. Likewise, Spain is left behind sending only 23,000 students.
As much as a destination is preferred by students, they need small incentives to help their mind to decide on one destination or another. This could be crucial for different universities that want to attract international students to their academic programs. It is necessary that the leaders responsible for recruiting international students know these tools to incorporate them into their marketing plan and boost the enrolment of students or simply to attract the attention of potential Students.
There are different ways to get students’ attention. It is true that it is becoming more and more difficult for institutions to create content of interest given the increase of marketing tools. Younger people are used to different entities wanting to get their attention both physically and through social media. These marketing tools are becoming more sophisticated and it’s getting more difficult to innovate and genuinely capture students’ attention.
There are factors with which a university can take advantage of, however, there are factors outside the control of the institutions that can play against them, be it the location, facilities…
Recruiting students is not easy, and keeping them even more complicated. It is a real challenge to create an effective marketing strategy given the complexity that this entails. Below will be a number of key factors that can help you be more successful;
It’s very important to know what you want to say, how and especially who to target. The message the university wants to send to international students has to be authentic, consistent and clear. Asking the right questions helps you find the answers you’re looking for; what can you offer international students? How can you make the transition more bearable for them? What can students in the institution?
The reputation that some schools possess is a key factor in the students’ final decision. The most important thing is to create an attractive environment for the student based on positive rather than negative attributes, such as ensuring campus safety.
It is important for the university to maintain contact with its old international students as they can be the face of overseas expansion and can attract students from their home countries. They can be the bridge to recruiting students. They can rely on their personal experience as an international student and how it benefited them on a personal and professional level.
When having a conversation with potential students, don’t forget to mention the mayors you think they might be interested and also the top academic programs the college is known for.
When graduation time arrives, international students have a hard time looking for a job. The university could help these internationals find job offers and follow them up in the interview process, giving them courses to prepare for this process and know how to deal with it.
While studying, the international office can help international students find a job on campus, such as tutoring, event assistant, student manager…