Recruiting Intelligence

Ben Waxman & Emily R. Henry

Challenges for Recruiting International Students from Mexico

A little while back (after the U.S. election), we shared a blog post titled “So, How Do We Market U.S. Higher Ed to the World Now?” One of the most staggering facts we mention is the number of students from Mexico who stated they would be less likely to study in the U.S. in the case of a Donald Trump presidency. This number was 80% of those surveyed! 

With responses like that, many of us in this field are left wondering what the recruiting climate in Mexico looks like now. How can we address the ambivalence, insecurity or downright dislike many Mexican students and their families feel about studying in the U.S.?

Bottom Line: Political situations always impact recruitment efforts. In the aftermath of the U.S. election, you can expect some negative repercussions for student recruitment in Mexico. Be prepared to reassure prospective students in Mexico. Continue to focus the points that make your institution’s culture different than anywhere else, but add extra emphasis to the topic of safety and the welcoming environment your institution offers. For graduate students, remember to talk about how your institution can help them further their career. Use your current students as authentic representatives. Don’t ignore the significant issues but emphasize the success stories.

The results of our 2016 Know Your Neighborhood: Economic and Political Pressures on International Students Report will be released next month. The report is based on the results of the FPPEDUMedia and Intead 2016 survey to 1.2 Million international students. To be sure you receive your free copy, sign up HERE .

Read on to learn more about the recruiting landscape in Mexico and ways you can reach these prospective students.

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Turbulence in Turkey: Opportunity for Student Recruitment

Turkey has been in the news a lot recently, and not for the best reasons. Political uncertainty plagues the country and the country’s foreign relations. From an international student recruiting point of view, this is a market where parents truly value education. And, Turkish students continue to seek English language courses and education abroad. Is your marketing approach able to adapt to this changing market niche?

Bottom Line: Stay flexible in uncertain times. As political climates begin to shift and foreign relations appear unstable, it is essential to focus on your relationships with agents and reassure your markets. In particular, in Turkey, local networks are vital to success. Creating strong bonds with agents and other student recruiting channels in the country can help your institution connect directly with the whole family.

Read on for a more perspective on current events and a few tips on recruiting options that might work for your institution in Turkey.

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Consider Niche Chinese Markets for International Student Recruiting

We all know there is no “one-size-fits-all” marketing (that would be too easy). You adjust your approach by country, right?

But in the US, would you market your institution the same way in Southern California and Texas? How about in Brooklyn?

Turns out, China is a big country too (surprise). And in a huge market like China, there can be a temptation to lower your strategic standards and provide the same marketing material to every prospective Chinese student. We’ve talked about segmentation often. To get the right students to your campus, you have to focus on niche markets with the right messaging.

Segmentation is especially important to small institutions with no brand recognition abroad. So, today we are talking about China’s second and third tier cities, and how you can leverage your brand in these harder to get to places. (Actually, many of them are on high speed rail and have reasonable flight schedules now.)

Bottom Line: Segmentation ensures that the right information gets to the right audience. In China, the criteria for a destination country varies depending on student academic interest. Additionally, a student’s academic level impacts the type of information they desire. Finding the right Chinese students for your campus involves tailoring information to targets and strengthening your relationship with agents. Agent management systems that reward success are essential to finding the right students and maintaining your institution’s reputation.

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Resource Tip: ICEF Agent Barometer = Expert International Student Intel

Here at Intead, we are always on the hunt for reliable resources and information to help our clients, and favorite blog readers  make better decisions about their recruiting and marketing plans. While the ICEF Monitor Agent Barometer is not new (it’s been published annually since 2007!), it is a great resource of information from people on the ground, working directly with student every day–agents! They can be extremely helpful and reliable sources.

Considering the amount of change in the air here in the U.S., in the U.K. and frankly, a whole lot of other important student-focused regions, having a strong agent network is like having your ear to the ground in all of these regions. Without in-country partners, you are relying on international news sources to tell you what the cultural sentiments are and how economic conditions are changing. Good agents are a great source of current intel.

Bottom Line: The 2016 Agent Barometer survey gathered responses from 1,111 agents in 108 countries. The survey suggests that the U.S. is losing ground as an attractive destination for international students. Finance is less of a concern for students, while the responsiveness of universities is still essential for getting students to your campus.

Another helpful resource to be on the lookout for is "NAFSA's Guide to International Student Recruitment: 3rd Edition" about all things international recruiting coming out in May 2017, and featuring an Intead-written chapter "Effective Marketing Practices for International Student Recruitment: Simplifying the Complexity of Academic Global Branding" on digital marketing strategy and tactics.

Read on for details and links to valuable information sources and our agency evaluation form to support your recruitment plans. You’ll have to read to the end to get all the good stuff! Don’t forget to share it with your team.

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Engaging Parents of International Students on Social Media

In many countries where you are currently recruiting, parents and families are an important part of the study abroad decision-making process. In some European and Asian countries, parents play an especially vital role in helping their children decide where to study - especially at the boarding high school and undergraduate levels. And they play a pretty influential role at the graduate level as well (though the students would have you believe otherwise).

Though it may be a bit more challenging to reach parents with your marketing, this influencing audience is so important. Facebook, live chats and online forums are great places to engage parents and bring them into the decision-making process. Of course, China needs a different approach. China always needs a different approach!

Bottom Line: We discuss segmentation a lot. By demographics, geographics, programs of interest. Academic marketers segment their student audience in many ways. Parents are another segment of your overall recruiting plan that you should be considering. They need specific messaging about safety, quality of academic programs, job prospects (outcomes) and other factors when deciding to send their child abroad. And, Pro Tip 1: they like institutions that are close to large international airports with major metropolis shopping nearby. Pro Tip 2: local language (nuf said!).

Finding online communities where parents are active is a great way to make sure your influential messaging gets to them.

Meet us in D.C.! Intead is off again to AIEA in Washington, D.C., next week from February 20-22. We’ll be participating in a presentation on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 5pm: Harnessing Language Schools as University Pathways. Niagra University and Salem State University will share their plans to take their language instruction programs to the next level and we will offer our perspective on how to align global marketing plans with language program recruiting efforts. We would love a chance to speak with you one-on-one! Let us know if you will be there.

Read on for tips on how to engage international parents online...

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Measure What Matters: Build an Academic Metrics Dashboard

What are the Top 3 Metric Areas you should be tracking? Does your answer match ours?

Former CEO of HP, Carly Fiorina, once said, “the goal is to turn data into information and information into insight.” This is the essence of analytics. It’s exactly why you are (or should be!) taking the time to track traffic on your website and social media engagement. It is all for that valuable insight that can introduce you to the student leads you want and help you understand their needs/motivations.

We know we might sound like a broken record but analytics are important. And we know how difficult it can be to get started. The good news is that it’s not as complicated as you think.

Come meet us in San Diego this weekend (a quick jaunt to the sun!?!) to learn more about metrics, tactics and other international student recruiting approaches from experts in the field at our upcoming International Student Recruitment Bootcamp. It is all about What Works Where.

Have you seen our speaker list? A range of experts, our conference faculty, will be on hand January 29-31. Today is the LAST DAY to take advantage of regular pricing. Spaces are limited and going fast. REGISTER HERE.

The Bottom Line: The key to successfully tracking analytics is to set up a system that is easy to use and accessible–your dashboard. Just like your car dashboard, a metrics dashboard stores all your “go-to” data in one place. This can help know how your digital marketing is performing. If you take the time to do this regularly, a big IF based on what most of us have time for, you will spend your marketing budget more wisely every year. If nothing else, your bosses will be proud of you for that ;-)

Trying to collect data without setting up a dashboard is like trying to make a recipe you’ve never made before without the ingredients list. You might know where to find one or two of the pieces of data you are looking for, but you need to know how to piece them together to make a tasty meal. Read on for our list of the Top 3 Metrics Areas we think you should be keeping tabs on. This is the kind of data we think should be on your dashboard to support your international student recruitment efforts.

Pro tip: this is one of those posts you’ll want to share with a select few others on your team.

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Intead’s Top 10 International Student Recruiting Podcasts

Podcasts can be an invaluable tool for international student recruiting professionals. They inspire new ideas, motivate us to try new things, and teach us industry secrets. And, you can listen to them just about anywhere, from your morning commute, to the coach seat as you fly to your next student fair, or just at your desk as you carve out a few minutes for lunch between all the demands of the day. Listening to leaders and experts in the field of international student recruiting discuss the same topics you struggle with can shed light on new solutions.

These are all of the reasons Intead started sharing podcasts a few years ago, and since then we’ve shared insights into everything from hiring admissions staff to innovative education models, to marketing to diverse audiences. This week, we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 most listened to podcasts. Here’s what your peers found most valuable.

In all, Intead has produced 46 podcasts with international student recruiting leaders covering all the topics you grapple with all the time. At the end of our top 10 list you will find a link to Intead’s full library of podcasts. Find the insights that are most important to you. Special nod to our co-founder, Michael Waxman-Lenz, for all his work producing these industry-leading resources.

Meet Us in Miami or San Diego!

When temperatures get cold here in New England, we seek out warmer weather ;) Join us at the AIRC and ICEF conferences in Miami in December as we share our latest global digital marketing insights at workshops and other presentations. In January, meet us in San Diego at our First Annual International Student Recruitment Bootcamp (2016 theme: What Works Where), presented in partnership with CGACC. Let us know if you’ll be at any of these venues–we’d love to catch up over a cup of coffee!

Read on to find links to our top 10 podcasts, plus one bonus podcast you won’t want to miss. Read on...

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International Student Recruiting in Egypt

It won’t come as a surprise to you that education is important in Egypt, the home of one of the oldest continuous running universities in the world, Al-Azhar University (photo above). But, after the political unrest of the past few years, you might be surprised to know that slowly and steadily Egypt is seeing growth in two essential areas.

Economic growth hasn’t been startling but it has been stable. In addition, increasing internet usage is linking young Egyptians to the global community more than ever before. This might be your signal to look past the Egypt of the Arab Spring and start looking toward the future of its young population. Students are interested in finding education abroad, especially if your institution has competitively low tuition rates and provides financial aid or scholarship opportunities to international students. A subset of our readers, for sure, but that is what marketing differentiation is all about. Promote your strengths where there is less competition.

Bottom Line: Interest in study abroad for Egyptian students is high but low government support makes financing these studies an issue. While the number of students from Egypt studying in the U.S. may be modest, the desire and the growth are not. The US saw a 5% increase in Egyptian students between the 2013/14 school year and the 2014/15 school year according to 2015 IIE Open Doors data. Tackling issues of finance will be key, but there won’t be a shortage of effort on the part of Egyptian students. Many young Egyptians have a good grasp on the English language and programs that help students hone these skills are essential in the region. And, if economic predictions for the future come true, starting in Egypt now will be a pay off in the future.

Meet Us in Miami or San Diego!

We will be sharing all our global digital marketing experience at workshops and other presentations at the AIRC conference, the ICEF Workshop and our latest effort to share knowledge: The First Annual International Student Recruitment Bootcamp (2016 theme: What Works Where) presented in partnership with CGACC. Let us know if we can schedule a coffee date at any of these venues. 

Read on for more insights into recruiting students from Egypt.

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WhatsApp and Facebook Rule When Connecting with Kuwait

Can you imagine a country where the number of expatriates outnumbers the total number of nationals?

In Kuwait around 69% of the population is made up of expats and English-speaking schools are widespread. There are many opportunities for recruiting here; both international students and Kuwaiti nationals. And with the 6th largest oil reserves in the world, Kuwait is also among the top 5 wealthiest countries in the world by GDP per capita–meaning families have the funds to finance an education abroad.

Bottom Line: Kuwait is a small, oil-rich country with a diverse and interesting population. International education is a norm for the many wealthy families. Students and families in Kuwait are accustomed to international education systems and have financial support.

To account for the expanding expat population, the number of English-speaking schools is impressive. ExpatArrivals lists 11 international schools in this small country, and they are a great place to focus your recruiting efforts (see link below). There is also considerable governmental support for Kuwait nationals to study outside the country. Against this backdrop 9,034 students studied in the United States in the 2014/2015 school year, according to IIE Open Doors Data. In terms of digital marketing channels, WhatsApp and Facebook are where it is at in Kuwait.

Meet Us in Newport & Miami: We are at NAFSA Region XI in Newport, RI today! Our presentation at 1:30PM in the Vanderbilt Room is all about de-mystifying global digital marketing–stop by and say hello! (Slides available next week). We'll also be in Miami this December at the AIRC and ICEF conferences with global digital marketing presentations and workshops. Please be in touch if you'll be at any of these events.

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Iranian Students Seek Graduate Study Opportunities in U.S.

A lot of big news has come out of Iran this past year. With the finalization of a nuclear weapons agreement, U.S. and European sanctions have been lifted in Iran and political relations are improving, meaning there is more opportunity for recruiting international students from Iran. The numbers are looking promising for U.S. institutions.

Bottom Line: Iran’s number of university students is growing. But the number of slots available in Iranian universities is extremely limited. Resourceful Iranian students are looking beyond their borders in growing numbers. Iranian institutions want to ensure their smartest students devote their talents to Iranian ventures at home rather than abroad. There is a move to foster university partnerships where students receive only part of their education abroad. European institutions have been quick to jump on this trend and you might want to consider doing the same. But, if you are going to break into this market, you’ll want to focus on graduate level STEM programs and you’ll want to get to know the culture before you devote your resources.

Meet Us In Newport & Miami: Heading to the NAFSA Region XI conference in Newport, RI next week?  We’ll be presenting our latest recruiting insights. We'll also be in Miami this December at the AIRC and ICEF conferences with digital marketing presentations and workshops. We’d love to meet you and discuss the challenges you face in your work. Please be in touch if you'll be at any of these events--we'd love to meet you!

Read on for more perspective and some interesting stats about international student recruiting in Iran…

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Know Your Neighborhood

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