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Recruiting Intelligence

Ben Waxman

Africa's Tech Hubs: Your New Student Source?

Looking for new ways to connect with students from some of Africa’s biggest providers of international students, including Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya? Trendy “tech hubs” are an interesting new student source to keep an eye on.

Diversification is key to a successful global recruitment strategy. With recruiting challenges and competition rising in China and India, smart money is looking at emerging pockets of talented and motivated students. These locales will not achieve the size of either India or China in terms of total numbers of students sent abroad. But that's not really the point. 

When you consider return on investment for institutions with low brand awareness, recruitment sources outside of India and China present real opportunities.

For U.S. institutions looking for talented international students (particularly at the graduate level), Africa's tech hubs may be just the place to forge valuable connections.

We've got your attention now, right? Read on for the valuable information you need to make solid budget allocation decisions.

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Proactively Connect When The World Is Unsettled

Maybe it's the jet lag (it's not) but this most recent international jaunt has left me thinking big and getting a bit sentimental about the field we are in. You know all those cynics who refer to the international student recruiting work we all do with disdain saying, “It’s really only about the tuition dollars the international students pay?” Perhaps you can send them a link to this post and shift their thinking just a bit.

Last week I was in Moscow presenting on global digital marketing at The Forum on International Education. It was an honor to be invited to play a role in this effort by the Russian Ministry of Education as the government there implements an audacious plan to grow from about 230K international students to more than 700K choosing Russia for their post-secondary education. No small task.

At a time when the American and Russian heads of state are spitting at each other, I found myself in Moscow learning from my colleagues from around the world and taking time to visit many of Russia’s iconic and moving cultural achievements. Each evening, back in my hotel room, CNN told me about how our world leaders were acting in ways that left me more determined than ever.

Read on for reflections on the value of your work and the one important thing you can do right now in the face of international turbulence.

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Moving the Needle on Your International Student Recruitment

So your international enrollment numbers are ok, but not what you need them to be.

Or worse, like many of our colleagues, your numbers took a real dive over the past 12 to 18 months.

What steps can you take that will move the needle north? And north of what? How much growth can you expect? Oh, and how much investment will that require?

Let’s just take a breath and point out that, you ask some really hard questions!

Let’s try to answer them…with DATA!

Read on for some concrete next steps...

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The Risk of Following vs. The Value of Leading

Reflecting on AIEA conversations and what we are seeing in the field, I find myself thinking about the risk of being a follower and the value of being a strategic leader.

  • Followers see where the crowd is headed and go there without due diligence.
  • Leaders see where the crowd is headed and then check the numbers.

This is important. Increasingly so.

The effort to recruit international students is heating up in the US. The pressure on university administrators is growing. With India and China sending the most students to the US, most newcomers to the field – the universities finally joining the fray and looking to diversify their student body – are turning to these source countries. It can be a mistake.

We are seeing the global education agent network being pressured to produce more students for more campuses. That increased pressure is going to bring us renewed stories of fraud and inappropriate recruiting behavior. We don't want to see anyone caught up in that mess.

It is important, REALLY important, to align your team with talent – the kind of partners who don't cut corners and have your best interests at heart. This field is full of questionable characters, as we all know. Many of us have the scars to prove it.

Following our travels to San Diego for our Annual Student Recruitment Bootcamp and moving on to DC for AIEA, the Intead team is grateful for all of the opportunities to connect face-to-face with you, our colleagues and friends in such a challenging time for our industry. (More on our Bootcamp in a post in March.)  Focusing on AIEA for a moment, we have to thank AIEA's Darla Deardorff for feeding so many of us with great information and wonderful food for a few days in DC. The AIEA conference was well run and well delivered. Informational and so often inspiring.

During the conference, we had the pleasure of giving presentations on enrollment trends with Kaplan International and on US–India university partnerships with Monmouth University and Sannam S4. Both sessions were filled with lively discussion and audience engagement. As always, we shared ideas and had fun learning from each other. Thank you to all who attended! It is always a pleasure.

Read on for more reflections and insights from the conferences and my thoughts on enrollment trends and predictions. 

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Change Agents Need Reliable Information

2017 was too much to define in a single headline. A departure from the norm, as many have said.

The ramifications of the changes that occurred during the course of 2017 will be felt for years to come. They will play out in ways none of us can predict, for better or worse. While these kinds of statements or platitudes are always true, this is a period of more dramatic change than the US, and the world, have experienced for some time.

At a policy level, Mr. Trump came into office promising radical change. He has delivered on that promise. When change agents enter any situation, and they have some level of support, conflict ensues.

This is a time to gather the wisdom of others and make plans. Certainly not a time to sit tight and wait out the storm. You know those early birds gathering those worms...those are the birds that planned to get out there early and act.

Read on to gain a bit more perspective and be one of those early birds...

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NAFSA 2017 Follow-Up...Your Next Steps Are Clear

To all the friends we saw at NAFSA, I hope your week was valuable on many levels. I found this year’s conference more inspiring than the past few. Perhaps because we all have a renewed sense of purpose to prove the value of our work and our worldview.

I shared this sentiment with a colleague the other day and she sent back, “Agreed!”

There is much to consider as we move forward with our international student recruiting strategies. One thing is clear: waiting for the dust to settle is NOT AN OPTION!

When we shared our 2017 survey results with a nice-sized crowd at NAFSA this year, there were a few uncomfortable moments. The data regarding student sentiment about the US and the UK is not good news. What is important here is to take steps to mitigate the negative sentiment that is out there.

No question, international students are annoyed with US and UK foreign policy statements (to say the least). We can only imagine what it must be like to be a young person with a global mindset watching the leaders and citizens of important countries say, in effect, “We don’t want you here!”

Thanks for dashing idealism and entrepreneurialism around the world!

By making visas harder to obtain. By making customs more annoying to navigate. By reducing access to jobs and training opportunities. When posting salacious international headlines on a regular basis. The fires of discord are being stoked.

So what do we do in times like these? Read on for a subset of tips we shared at the conference. Our slides will be available next week.

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AIEA Conference Slides Available: Harnessing the Power of Language Schools as University Pathways

 

A couple of weeks ago, we were at AIEA talking about language schools as university pathways for international students. We had the honor of presenting with David Silva, Provost of Salem State University, and Deborah Curtis, Director of the Niagara University Center for Language, Culture and Leadership. 

With the global changes we are witnessing and the political landscape here in the US, this turbulent time is taking a toll on language school enrollments. These programs act as early indicators of trends in international recruiting, and we can see that many of them are starting to face challenges. These challenges are likely going to spread to international student enrollment more broadly over the coming months.

Yet, any significant enrollment declines we see coming will likely be limited to specific regions (think Middle East, Mexico, perhaps India) . This will be harsh enough for everyone in our industry. And still, there will be bright spots where students are less concerned and student interest in the US may, in fact, increase (think Russia).

Time will tell, and our market research is helpful as you develop your marketing/recruiting plans. We work hard to make your planning targeted and effective in each region. Your use of language programs is just one tool among many to draw students to your campus and your programs.

Read on to see what our language school research uncovered and to download our AIEA presentation slides.

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So, How Do We Market US Higher Ed to the World Now?

There is a new political landscape here in the US and in the UK. International student recruiting is facing some new, unexpected challenges.

Brace yourself, this is a long post and an incredibly important topic to all of us. We've tried to give some real food for thought and grist for action. As always, at Intead we try to give you the facts and figures in a concrete way. Strategic thinking that gets you to a tactical plan of action. 

I'm betting there are at least a few other people at your institution you will want to forward this post to if you dive into it. 

So, to get right into it, earlier this year we surveyed more than one million prospective international students thanks to FPPEDUMedia's powerful student database. More than 40,000 students responded immediately - that's some incredible engagement right there.

We asked them how current global, economic and political events are impacting their plans to study abroad. No surprise, our somewhat controversial question around international students' desire to study in the US based on the outcome of the presidential election has suddenly become a hot topic. For a variety of reasons, we didn't really expect to be in this place.

Now that we are, we have some new thinking to do. While the student responses we received were speculative (If someone wins, would you be more or less inclined to...), the responses were dramatically telling, nonetheless.

In case you missed it, 60% of 40,000+ responses said they were less likely to study in the US if Donald Trump were to win the election. That number rises to 80% when you look specifically at responses from Mexico. Now we have your attention, right?

So, how does our messaging to international students’ change now? How can we recruit international students who are wary of US travel and their safety here? How can we make our campuses feel inclusive and welcoming for our current (and future) international students? What about parents?

In the past week, we have discussed these topics with reporters at the New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, Hechinger Report, The Pie News, EL Gazette and others. There are many angles to consider.

In an effort to help this thinking, this conversation, move forward with all of our colleagues in academia, we are hosting a webinar later today (Wed., November 16) at 3pm Eastern Time to consider the angles in our new, post-election landscape. We will discuss what all this means for your recruitment and marketing plans. The webinar is complimentary, but limited to 75 seats. By the time you read this, we are likely already full to capacity, so we are looking into hosting another one. Register here to be put on our waiting list.

Dive into this topic in a more substantial way: Meet Us in Miami or San Diego

We will be sharing our global digital marketing insights and discussing ways to move forward in our new political landscape at some upcoming conferences. In December, we will be presenting at the ICEF and AIRC conferences in Miami. In January, we will be hosting the 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 conferences–we’d love to chat.

Read on for perspective on how we do that global recruitment thing given the new political landscape…

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Surprise Intead Blog Post!


Look everyone! A surprise blog post from Intead!

Even though our blog is on summer break right now, we just missed you too much to stay away for long! We're looking forward to posting again in September, and we wanted to give you the opportunity to tell us what to write about when we return.

Take our quick reader survey and tell us what kind of research will help you do your job. All things international student recruitment. Many thanks to all of our faithful readers who have already given us their ideas.

We hope you are enjoying your summer! 

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#NAFSA16 Slides Now Available!

Did you catch our presentation at NAFSA 2016? Our loyal readers, and those who were unable to attend (we missed you!), can now access our slides below!

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Know Your Neighborhood - Fall 2017
Global Alumni Management for U.S. Institutions