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Recruiting Intelligence

Ben Waxman & Emily R. Henry

International Student Recruiting in Africa Part II: Nigeria

In last week’s introductory post Africa's Competitive Edge on international student recruitment in Africa, we set the scene. Though the economies in many countries have seen hard times recently, the momentum of students in both North and Sub-Saharan Africa seeking to study in the U.S. and other places around the world is increasing. Documenting the trend: increasing numbers of competitive SAT scores being sent from Nigerian students to U.S. universities.

Today, we will share our thoughts on the trends and opportunities of student recruiting specifically in Nigeria—the largest sending country in Africa in 2015. Almost 9,500 students from Nigeria are studying in the U.S. today. Let's look at a few ideas about how to market to this particular group of students. There is a lot to learn about this country to be successful in your recruiting efforts. We want to get you started.

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International Student Recruiting in Africa Part I: Africa’s Competitive Edge

Have you been to Nairobi? Vibrant city there. International student recruiting options? Yeah, worth evaluating.

There are a number of African countries that interest us as potential international student recruiting pools. Like other regions of the world, many countries here are experiencing very recent economic pain due to dropping oil prices. In addition, competition is growing from a number of higher education institutions within Africa – primarily in South Africa.

This continent is a difficult territory to navigate as a student recruiter. And given some of the recent increases we’ve seen in international student mobility from some regions on this continent, we wanted to see what we could learn. And of course, we wanted to share that with you.

Today and for the next two weeks, we share insights in our three-part series about recruiting from select markets in Africa. Part I, below, provides a larger picture of Africa and the trends of international students studying abroad. Parts II & III will take a deeper dive country focus on Nigeria and Kenya and the potential for recruiting international students from those countries, as well as tips on how to reach them using the most promising marketing channels we could identify.

The Bottom Line: The reality is that many other destinations are more sought by your U.S. recruiting colleagues. African markets are less so. And therein lies the opportunity. The less traveled path represents the less competitive path. Consider how nice it would be to be among the top ranked universities at a college fair. Is that possible for your institution in Beijing? There are market opportunities and then there are market opportunities. Depends on who you are and what you are willing to put into the hunt for international students.

Let’s find out what Emily, our American international student stationed in Leiden, Netherlands, can teach us about this vibrant part of the world.

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Are Saudi Students Key to Your Recruitment Goals?

How many mobile devices do you have? You got your cell phone, your tablet… Turns out in Saudi Arabia, a heck of a lot of people have more than one mobile device, too. We Are Social reports that the number of mobile subscriptions as a percent of total population = 173%.

Yes, More mobile subscriptions than there are people! So, we’ll ask you again, as we have in so many of our posts, is your international student recruitment content mobile friendly?

Let’s get to the point of this post: Saudi student recruitment. In the last few years, students from Saudi Arabia have certainly left their mark on international higher education. With the growth of government sponsored scholarship programs, such as the King Abdullah Foreign Scholarship Program (KASP), the number of students from Saudi Arabia studying in the U.S. for the 2014/2015 school year jumped to just about 60,000. That's an 11.2% increase from the previous year, according to the International Institute of Education (IIE). With numbers like these, you should be paying close attention to this market.

And most of you are. Paying attention that is. In our conversations with our colleagues at many institutions, we hear concern. A strong reliance on Saudi Arabian students to help meet recruitment targets might be leaving institutions vulnerable. Not unlike the reliance many schools have on Chinese or Korean students. When the political or economic winds blow, it affects a significant swath of your international student population.

You are not alone in this vulnerability. So we asked Emily, our international blogger, to dig into the international student recruitment scene in the land of Saud and let us know where and how to focus our recruitment efforts. As usual, she did a great job and found some really interesting research.

BOTTOM LINE: Potential changes being enforced by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission (SACM), are affecting how many Saudi students are studying abroad and the funding available. However, many Saudi students are able to pay their way, independently. When recruiting in this particular market, it will be essential to brush up on your Saudi cultural knowledge and reach out to prospective students online. Mobile phone apps, YouTube content and targeted landing pages will put you ahead of the competition and help you meet your recruitment goals. There's a lot of information in this post, read on...

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The Global Allure of Middle America

The heart of America seems to be catching the hearts of more prospective international students. A blog we published in 2013 highlighted the fact that Ohio universities have been growing their international student population twice as fast as California or New York universities for the four years prior to the article. (There’s some good data there; that blog post is worth a look.)

Since then, many Midwest institutions are stepping up their investment in world class international recruiting efforts that focus on core differentiators: affordable tuition and living costs, great international student services, a perception of a “safer” environment and American students who speak English without an accent (yes, that is a selling point). 

So here’s the pro tip: universities in the middle of the country interested in attracting international students need to play up the academic programs that make them strong and different and not always go head-to-head with competitors on the coasts where touting business and engineering is always the thing. Consider agribusiness and water/environmental science. Why, you ask? Emily is about to take us through the rationale — and the data tells the story. With so much to consider, I hope you know that we are here to help you figure all this stuff out.

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Puzzling Together Recruitment in Colombia: Part II

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the potential of recruiting students in Colombia and statistics reported in the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) Open Doors report (find IIE’s report here). Although the country’s current economic state is unfavorable due to the peso hitting record lows against the dollar, Colombia’s government has placed more focus on education and as a result, more students have gained access to financial aid and scholarships.

However, even as we warm up to Colombia’s attractive demographics and international interests, there is another common issue Colombian students face when looking to study abroad. The English language remains a problem for the majority of Colombian students. But, like many other Latin American countries Colombia is working hard to help more young people become bilingual which is where marketing your English language program can help you stand out to this group of prospective students.

Bottom Line: Young Colombians seem to have a drive to learn the language that will help them improve their futures. Employers here are eager to find English speaking staff to help them do business around the world. Academic recruiters seeking Colombian students will do well to focus on pathway programs and the career opportunities a degree will foster. Finally, since university rankings are less important than affordability here, lesser-known institutions that can prove their value can do well.

Emily is ready to wrap up this two-part series with additional perspective to help you with your international student recruitment plan.

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Puzzling Together Recruitment in Colombia: Part I

As we puzzle together a picture of Latin America, we are fitting Colombia into the mix. In part I of this two-part series, we will take a look at the economy and recent student mobility statistics for Colombian international students. Next week, Part II will focus on English as a second language among other critical recruiting data points.

Now, if you’ve found yourself confused by shifts in recruiting students from Colombia, you aren’t the only one. Large swings in the number of students recruited from Colombia have been common over the last 20 years.

The CIA World Factbook lists the population at about 47 million with more than 17% of the population between the ages of 15 and 24. The growth rate of the middle class is also something to consider. A report from The World Bank in 2012 shows that the middle class had grown by 50% in a decade. These same reports believed that this expansion would be sustainable. With more Colombians able to afford higher education, Colombia became the third largest Latin American source of international students. 

However, economic clouds are beginning to form. In August of this year, Colombia Reports showed the peso hitting record lows against the dollar. The peso is closely tied to oil prices and with oil losing almost a third of its value the Colombian economy has suffered.

Bottom Line: While the number of Colombian international students had been growing because of newfound economic security, they may be harder to rope in now due to the current economic climate. Lack of funds, as well as recent lack of resources to learn English in Colombia, are hampering student mobility. Still, language programs in the country are increasing (more on that next week). With the right academic offerings, there is recruiting potential in this large South American country. Scholarships and messages about overall affordability will go a long way as a recruiting draw. Career opportunities will also be powerful messages.

Our intrepid international blogger, Emily, will now wake us up and help us smell the coffee.

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International Student Recruiting-Chile

Raise your hand if you are already onto the recruiting potential in Chile. On the fast track as an emerging economy, Chile is attracting more attention from the international community. Chileans see value in receiving an education and gaining relevant experience abroad. Chile’s movement toward a more global perspective will likely help recruiters enhance their recruiting capabilities in the country.

While small by many measures (a population of nearly 17M people and just 8,000 students studied abroad in 2012), Chile's economy has seen steady and consistent growth for the past 35 years. That trend has slowed a bit recently, but the long-term trend is still up and impressive. 

Our long-term readers will recognize the approach this post takes to analyzing a specific country and its potential for international student recruitment. In other posts, we've focused on many Asian and Southeast Asian countries. We thought we'd look to the America's today. And with this post we offer one last plug to the lastest research we will be presenting at the upcoming AIRC and ICEF conferences in December. There are still a few slots left for our 3rd annual ICEF Pre-conference Global Marketing Seminar for Education Institutions.

Bottom Line: While some challenges stand in the way of attracting Chileans to the U.S., 2,513 Chilean students chose U.S. institutions in 2014, as reported by IIE's latest Open Doors Data. The common barriers to international education (language and financial constraints) are beginning to be removed and the U.S. is becoming an increasingly attractive education destination for young Chileans. Well crafted social media campaigns and a solid agent network are likely your best bets for reaching those seeking to study abroad. An ESL program or other language support is going to be an important element for U.S. institutions recruiting from this region. Finally, we recommend focusing on your institution's strongest graduate level academic programs rather than diluting your message by promoting your university overall. Be bold and clear with what differentiates your institution.

Now, let's turn to Emily so she can tell us what time it is in Chile...

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Student Retention Depends On Great Customer Experience

Do you get a lot of credit card offers in your mailbox? We certainly do. Those banks are paying a tremendous amount for all that direct mail. And they have analyzed the ratios and response rates to know beyond any doubt that RETAINING a current customer is FAR less expensive than RECRUITING a new one. Yet they still know that spending marketing dollars to get a new one is worth it, if done right. 

This week is about recruiting and retention.

Last week we borrowed from grocery store market research to learn about marketing your student outcomes. This week we will borrow from industry again to consider how international student experience relates to student retention. In other words, how to keep your customers happy. (Hint: listen to them).

We know that student retention is important. Your goal is to get them in the door AND see to it that they earn their degree. That produces satisfaction for everyone involved, on many levels. Here’s the thing: NAFSA’s research says your perspective on what keeps a student is likely different than the student’s perspective on the same thing.

Bottom Line: Current research from NAFSA suggests that international students want more internship and job opportunities and they will move around to find them. Setting clear expectations about what you have to offer before students arrive and listening to what they are really seeking from you will go a long way toward creating the student experience that results in retention and degrees earned.

We are full of questions today, and Emily is ready to step out of the box and tell us more about how student experience drives retention. And how you can drive student experience.

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Creative, Personalized, Digital Marketing, Because: Sharing

 

With digital content as the driving force behind international student recruiting, it is essential to be innovative with your content strategy. Certainly, there are challenges to this. There always seem to be new tools, digital platforms and social media options available. How to keep up?

Well, at Intead, all of this stuff is critical to our work; it's far too important to us to fall behind. That is, in part, why we write and share this blog. We all need to stay current.

So for those without the time for the amazing link at the end of this blog…

Bottom Line: Capture their interest and lead them to the deeper decision making content. This is creative digital marketing’s mantra. What do most universities do? Lead with boring emails and web pages that offer the deeper decision making content. And that makes you just one of many out there doing the same, tired thing. If all the options look the same, mostly students just hit delete.

In this weeks blog, Emily tells us why that is doubly awful. Because: sharing.

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LinkedIn University Finder: Advantage For Lesser Known Schools

In last week's post, we gave you an international student's user perspective of LinkedIn’s University Finder tool (thank you for all the positive feedback by the way). 

For those of you wanting more digital marketing perspective... Join us in Miami at the ICEF pre-conference Global Marketing Seminar for Education Institutions. We hope to see you there.

This week, we check back in with our international marine engineer, Steven, to see what is driving his decisions about graduate study. Steven is looking for international and US universities with a master’s program in engineering and project management. His LinkedIn search yielded an intriguing list of institutions. In this post, we share Steven’s thoughts on the functionality of the tool and the effectiveness of the universities’ LinkedIn pages that he visited.

Bottom Line: International students seeking to study abroad have far too many choices and need tools like LinkedIn to narrow the field and focus their decision making. Your institution needs to be represented well here to take advantage of the free marketing LinkedIn is providing. Little known universities stand to gain the most.

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