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Recruiting Intelligence

Edu Trustees and Presidents Focus on Internationalization

So many SIOs and others working with international students tell us the broader campus community lacks meaningful insight into the role internationalization plays across their institutions. Maybe you and I have had this very conversation. It’s quite likely. It comes up a lot.

The ideal of internationalization is of course generally understood. But actually achieving a strategic, coordinated framework that integrates globally oriented policies and programs across departments, well that is a different story. The level of understanding and commitment certainly varies.

Sure, the international recruitment team gets it. And the international student services group, too. But how is internationalization playing out in housing, nutritional services, career services, IT, marketing, and across faculty programs? Every department has a role in achieving the mission for the benefit of all. Not just the international students! That's kinda the point, right? The internationalization mission is institution-wide for a reason.

We get that championing this can feel like an uphill battle.

Yet we know it’s worth the fight. The folks we talk to are not ones for lip service.

At the upcoming Association of Governing Boards (AGB) conference in San Diego, Edu trustees and presidents will be talking about all thingsinstitutional policy and process and we are looking forward to presenting our internationalization perspective to those attending. We want to empower leadership to offer guidance and insight into the intersectionality (dare we use that word! We're looking at you, Florida) of this highly educational and career-boosting aspect of university life.

We thank AGB for recognizing the value of this topic and for giving us the opportunity to present a holistic picture of what internationalization is and offer perspectives that will help trustees support a plan for progress with a clear focus on student-first initiatives.

Intead has the honor to be presenting to this distinguished crowd alongside Brad Farnsworth from Fox Hollow Advisory (former ACE VP) and Dr. Gretchen Bataille from GMB Consulting (former president of the U of North Texas among other amazing higher ed roles).

Know this: From the dais, we will be channeling all the concerns you’ve raised and offering insights these university leaders need to guide their institutions’ internationalization efforts. Your concerns and priorities are our North Star.

Read on to learn more about the program and the opportunity to share your ideas before we head to the conference

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My MBA Program Isn’t Growing Like Theirs!

Your MBA program had been a sure bet for years. So, why the more recent application declines?

The latest data from Graduate Management Admission Council’s Application Trends Survey – 2022 Summary Report offers a clue. According to the report, which collected data on applications received by graduate management education programs for the 2022-23 academic year, 76% of professional MBA programs in the US saw a decline in applications, as did 75% of part-time MBA and 67% of executive MBA programs.

Those are some significant across the board declines. So, clearly you are not alone.

The only outlier: flexible MBAs. Just over half of these programs, which allow students to change between full-time and part-time status, reported application volume growth. An important indicator of the flexibility the current cohort of MBA students find important to their decision making.

If you'll be at the AGB Conference in San Diego on April 1, 2023, please reach out. Happy to buy you a cup of coffee and talk about best practices in leading in internationalization.

As we’ve reviewed the data and the global landscape, we can see there are opportunities for programs that focus on market demand (as opposed to “doing what we’ve always done”).

So maybe it’s not the sky that’s falling on the MBA, it’s the student landscape that’s shifting – as it tends to do. Read on for a link to the GMAC report and our take on what you can do to boost your MBA enrollment rate.

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Productive Conflict in Action — Agent Aggregators: an ICEF Podcast

“The term you’re looking for isn’t ‘diversity of thought.’ It’s ‘productive conflict.’”

A thought-provoking post from Lily Zheng, a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant. If you don’t follow her already, she’s one to look up.

Reading her words took me back to the Dec. 2022 ICEF conference in San Diego. I had the good fortune of sitting on a panel alongside Eddie West, assistant dean for international strategy and programs at San Diego State University; Sadiq Basha, the CEO of Edvoy; and Tony Lee, chief visionary officer for ICEF. The topic: agent aggregators.

It was a really great discussion. Open. Honest. And what Zheng may describe as “productive conflict.” I had a blast. And I think everyone in the room did, too. 90 minutes of panel discussion and audience engagement in a packed room and everyone stayed for the length of it. Not many looking at their phones either. Powerful and cutting edge conversation.

It’s exactly the kind of conversation you’d hope to have at ICEF. And I thank the leadership for including me. Because if you know me, I have strong opinions about the student journey and student success. The Intead team has been doing this stuff for a long time.

Please reach out if you'd like to chat over coffee at the AGB Conference in San Diego April 1.

If you’ve not been to the ICEF North America show, I highly recommend it. The value of it is different for institutions at different stages of their student recruitment journey. Definitely worth evaluating. Shoot us an email if you’d like more perspective on the value.

For those who were not in San Diego with us in December, you’re in luck. Read on for a link to the podcast of the agent aggregator discussion. I think you’ll find it both informative and entertaining.

Read on

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Reflecting on #AIEA2023: Promises Being Made and TBU Data

A great gathering in DC as nearly 800 attended this year’s AIEA conference. The conversations were varied and interesting, as always. Kudos to Darla Deardoff, David Fleshler, and their team for pulling off a valuable event.

We are looking ahead at our next chance to chat about internationalization with .Edu trustees and presidents in San Diego at the AGB conference in April. Honored to be presenting alongside Brad Farnsworth from Fox Hollow Advisory (former ACE VP) and Dr. Gretchen Bataille from GMB Consulting (former president of the U of North Texas among other amazing higher ed roles). We will be talking all about insights university leaders need to guide internationalization efforts. Reach out if you or others from your team will be there.

Reflecting on this past week with our AIEA colleagues, my thoughts turn to internationalization and the many factors that go into its student recruitment process – the admissions, the student support/success efforts, the development of global partnerships. So many factors to manage. We know this.

Underlying it all is the question of staffing structure and the challenge of retaining current staff and attracting new to keep the process moving (better yet, optimized). Switching gears, did we mention credential evaluation and oh, study abroad programs? Right, so many aspects.

With all of this yanking on us, distracting us as each area of our jobs calls us to focus, there really is only one approach to multi-faceted work like this: be thorough and work hard. There is no magic solution, despite what so many vendors seem to say.

Let’s get into it and review the promises being made in our field and some actions you and your team can take to improve your Gen Z enrollment strategy. What data are you looking at? And how much of it is True But Useless (TBU)? With thanks to our Chief of Strategy Patricia Tozzifor bringing this phrase to the fore. Her perpetual questioning keeps us focused on this: what can you truly act on?

Read on for insights prompted by the 2023 AIEA gathering:

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Budgeting as an Expression of Values: 3 Essential Questions

Worth evaluating: will your 2022 student recruitment plan and budget be relevant for 2023?

Some are saying Search is dead. It is certainly getting increasingly complex. And hello ChatGPT.

An old Chinese adage (loosely translated): May you live in interesting times. The original idea from Ming Dynasty Poet Feng Menglong in1627, "Better to be a dog in times of tranquility than a human in times of chaos." (寧為太平犬,不做亂世人 – thank you Wikipedia!)

The good news: not everything changes. The core questions you use to evaluate next steps remain the same. The truth is, no matter the tactics your strategic plan includes, the framework for budget planning and evaluation is (or should be) constant. If it’s not, let’s talk.

That’s why “3 Essential Budget Questions: A Framework for Planning” is one of our top go-to downloads. And why we often give it a reboot around budget season.

This free download distills any budget request/evaluation process into three essential questions. A quick 2-minute read, our framework for evaluating your plans and whether they merit additional investment, narrows your focus on a consideration of what is truly important to you. Where are the strongest opportunities for growth? What do you truly value? And are you performing at the level that produces desired results? 

Here's the thing, if you are not willing to fund something to get the results you want, then you don’t value those desired results as much as the thing you do decide to fund. What went into that decision? All too often, institutional politics carries more weight than an evaluation of values and growth opportunities. Ouch!

This download will be available for free to our blog subscribers for a limited time. Or, join Intead Plus and your team can access this and all our other Intead Index student recruitment essentials any time the need arises (annual budgeting, new team member training, etc.).

Ready to get your copy of Intead’s budget framework flowchart? Read on

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ICYMI: Getting Started with [New Tech Marketing] Series

It’s a sad day when a good idea dies on the cutting room floor simply because the team didn’t quite know how to pull it off or have the time to implement it. Because who has time to bother learning something new? (Runner-up award for worst higher ed institution tagline!)

Truth is, getting started is more than half the battle, which is why over the past 12+ months we ran the popular “Getting Started With” series. Taken together, these posts become your team’s Social Media Marketing 101 for student recruiting tools.

Today, we offer you a compilation of this newbie knowledge all in one place. Read on to learn how to get started with TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, text message marketing, and more. This is one post you’ll definitely want to share with the members of your team who actually get your stuff done.


As AIEA 2023 wraps up this week, we are looking ahead at our next chance to chat about internationalization with .Edu trustees and presidents in San Diego at the AGB conference in April. Honored to be presenting alongside Brad Farnsworth from Fox Hollow Advisory (former ACE VP) and Dr. Gretchen Bataille from GMB Consulting (former president of the U of North Texas among other amazing higher ed roles). We will be talking all about insights university leaders need to guide internationalization efforts.Reach out if you or others from your team will be there.


Read on for links to our full "Getting Started With..." series — highly sharable with the internal team you rely on to move all the recruitment levers just so. Go forth and produce great marketing things!!!

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AIRC Conference: Download Our Student Journey Slides

Love this photo: a last-minute session prep discussion as we reviewed the slides for our AIRC 2022 session all about the student journey. The student path to enrollment is really no path at all. That, despite even our best efforts to pave a smooth walk to first-year orientation.

Experience tells us time and again that the actual route to enrollment is filled with intersections, stop signs, potholes, and wrong ways. And influence comes from all directions. It is a multi-factor decision for students. And the path itself is not linear.

In December, Intead had the great pleasure of sharing the stage with Vanessa Andrade and Sean Cochran at the AIRC conference in Los Angeles. Vanessa is the SIO and director of international partnerships at California State University, Northridge, and Sean is the international enrollment management director at California State University, Long Beach. It was a lot of fun. Our session prompted a great discussion with attendees – a hallmark of AIRC Conference sessions.

If you couldn’t sit in, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered by making our slides available to you for a limited time.

And Hey! If you are at AIEA next week in DC, look us up. Join us for a great session on how trend data informs international student recruitment planning. Co-presenting with Karin Fischer from Chronicle of Higher Ed and Dr. Ahmad Ezzeddine from Wayne State University.  Always happy to talk through this student journey perspective to help you hone your approach.

 In the AIRC session back in December 2022, we had a few important learning objectives:

  • Learn to re-envision the many and varied touchpoints of the student journey
  • Gain perspective on which touchpoints can be controlled and emphasized to help students select a “best fit” institution
  • Understand, from the student's point of view, just how influential some of the nontraditional touchpoints are to university selection

 Sound worthwhile? It is. Read on to access this valuable content.

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When Traditional Markets Weaken, Look to the Middle East

What we know: On a macro level, stalwart student recruitment sources are in flux with China declining a lot and India rising a lot. Other source countries are similarly difficult to predict as the repercussions of the pandemic and other global factors continue to play out.

Statistically speaking, US institutions hosted 8.4% fewer international students this past fall compared to fall 2020 (and that year wasn’t so hot either). Public 4-year institutions saw the largest decline (17.2.%). This is all per the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

While macro stats offer perspective, they are not what drive recruitment strategy. Your goals and differentiators drive strategic enrollment decisions.


On the topic of high-level institutional internationalization: We will be in San Diego presenting at the AGB conference in April. Honored to join Brad Farnsworth from Fox Hollow Advisory (former ACE VP) and Dr. Gretchen Bataille from GMB Consulting (former president of the U of North Texas among other amazing higher ed roles). We will be talking all about insights university presidents and trustees need to guide internationalization efforts. Reach outif you'll be there.

And in less than 2 weeks we will be in DC for the AIEA Conference presenting alongside Karin Fischer from Chronicle of Higher Ed and Dr. Ahmad Ezzeddine from Wayne State University. If you will be in DC for the event, we are talking about how trend data informs international student recruitment planning on Monday, Feb. 20. Hope to see you there. (Email us if you'd like to find coffee together).


Recruitment strategy derives from the number of students you need to meet enrollment targets tied to what your institution excels at (your market differentiators) - that, along with an evaluation of where in the world (domestically and internationally) market opportunities exist. Our blog post on new market entrycontinues to be a popular one.

Most institutions across the country still believe that international markets work to their advantage. The latest “Mapping Internationalization on US Campuses” report by the American Council on Education (ACE) concurs. 66% of its survey’s 900+ responding institutions anticipate their overall level of internationalization will increase in the coming years. (Our recent blog post on the ACE report provides more perspective).

With traditional source countries in flux (China, India, Vietnam, South Korea, Brazil), we have been pointing to opportunities in developing markets (Africa part 1, part 2) and Latin America (part 1, part 2). Today we offer insights on the Middle East.

The value of reaching a broader swath of prospects gets to the very heart of why most institutions say they are for internationalization in the first place:

  • To improve student preparedness for a global era
  • To diversity students, faculty, and staff
  • To become more attractive to prospective students
  • To generate revenue

In evaluating new markets, we look to countries with rising incomes, a growing youth population, and real employment opportunities for returning graduates. The Middle East is a region with a rising youth population, plentiful job opportunities, and only a handful of competitive higher education institutions.

Many students in this region are looking to study abroad due to changes in political climate or the fact that many of their local universities are newer or understaffed. Though let’s not discount the entire system. Two Saudi universities are ranked in the top 200 of global 2023 QS World University Rankings: #106 King Abdulaziz University In Jeddah and #160 King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals in Dhahran.

In this week’s post we offer you insights on student market opportunities in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, and Jordan.

Read on.

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Customer Service as a Marketing Tool

When it comes to education marketing for private high schools and universities, customer service isn’t usually high on the list of marketing channels to invest in. While it’s tempting to focus on exciting new marketing channels like TikTok and more traditional email nurture campaigns, high-quality customer service is a high-value aspect of student recruitment and retention that institutions too often ignore.

Let's face it, customer satisfaction delivers new customers.

According to PwC, 65% of U.S. customers said that a positive experience with a brand is more influential than great advertising. The quality of your institution’s customer service – availability and responsiveness to questions and problems, and the ability to redirect to the right department – has everything to do with achieving the conversions we want and delivering the educational experience our students want.

The reality: your prospective and current students are highly influential new student magnets.

With word of mouth marketing as a major driver of new student attraction and conversion, we are talking about the importance of accurate and timely customer service and the role it plays in student enrollment and retention.

When Can We Meet?

The Intead team is prepping for our AIEA presentation with Karin Fischer from Chronicle of Higher Ed and Dr. Ahmad Ezzeddine from Wayne State University. If you will be in DC for the event, we are talking about how trend data informs international student recruitment planning on Monday, Feb. 20. Reach out if you'd like to share a cup of coffee.

We will also be in San Diego presenting at the AGB conference in April. Honored to join Brad Farnsworth from Fox Hollow Advisory (former ACE VP) and Dr. Gretchen Bataille from GMB Consulting (former president of the U of North Texas among other amazing higher ed roles). We will be talking all about insights university presidents and trustees need to guide internationalization efforts. Again, reach out if you'll be there.

Read on for academic customer service best practices that drive your students and their families to love you.

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Enrollment Staff Structure: Free Download

Let’s be honest. We’re not all people people. And we’re not all data nerds. Or content creators. The point: we need a team with varied talents to cover all the tasks required to run a successful enrollment management process.

One of the common areas we explore with our clients (it also comes up during conference discussions frequently): “What is the best staffing structure for student recruitment and enrollment processes?” And we have some basic analysis available to help you get this conversation started in your own shop.

To help your team (read: provost and VP of finance) understand why you need the full complement of skills, we’ve developed an at-a-glance info sheet that shows the skill sets needed at each phase of the admissions funnel. It’s pretty interesting to approach it from this perspective. And it’s pretty important that you do.

We’ll be presenting our enrollment staffing perspective as part of a session at the AGB (Association of Governing Boards) conference this April in San Diego with Brad Farnsworth, principal of Fox Hollow Advisory and former senior VP at American Council on Education, and Gretchen Bataille, president of GMB Consulting Group who also served in leadership roles at University of North Texas, University of North Carolina system, and at American Council on Education. University trustees and presidents gather every year at AGB to identify best practices for growth.

We’ll also be presenting with Karin Fischer, senior writer at Chronicle of Higher Education, and Ahmad Ezzeddine, vice president of academic student affairs and global engagement at Wayne State University, at the AIEA conference in DC in February. If you’d like to meet at either of these events, please drop us a note.

The annoying answer to the question about staffing structure is: “It depends.”

That's also a legit answer because institutions fall into different categories. As a simple example, consider an institution seeking an incoming class of 1,000 students vs another seeking 10,000 students. These institutions clearly need different reporting structures to process different volumes of marketing recruiting and inquiry nurturing, much less application processing and student orientation.

Nevertheless, there are common skills needed, from people skills to data crunching skills. And with enrollment offices typically run by an efficient crew (read that as skeleton teams) most staff are expected to wear many (or all) the hats: marketer, analyst, tech guru, travel agent, career counselor, social butterfly, academic genie, social media manager, digital marketer, and even coffee maker.

Sound familiar at your institution? Even if a Venn diagram from the latest psychological assessment shows your team of two (or four) has significant overlap among disparate personality traits, it’s impossible to create the kind of student cohort your institution aims for by asking just a few people to do it all.

We see it all the time. And it’s tough because no institution has all the resources they need. But the smart ones know how to build the right staff structure and partner relationships that will yield great results.

Our enrollment staff structure info sheet will be available for free to our blog subscribers for a limited time. Or, join Intead Plus and your team can access this and all our other Intead Index student recruitment essentials any time the need arises (annual budgeting, new team member training, etc.).

To get your free “International Enrollment from a Marketer’s Point of View,” read on.

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