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Recruiting Intelligence

Connecting the Dots for Enrollment Success

Let’s pause for just a minute or two and take a few deep breaths. The pace of all that is going on, right?

With this post, we are going to connect a few dots. Reconfirm the why’s and how’s of what we are doing in the enrollment management arena.

Right now, we see civil unrest around us that is the expression of communities not understanding each other. Lack of cultural understanding, lack of connection, lack of empathy, all leading to severe consequences. This is an age-old struggle and we, in the education sector, pour our hearts into changing the underlying factors that contribute to the mess we find ourselves in.

Getting our work right really does matter. Education IS such a huge part of moving our communities in the right direction.

For most of us, maybe all of us, recent events make it crystal clear why we do this: every mind opened, every cultural connection built, is a win.

To achieve loftier goals, the academic institution must remain economically viable. And we need the students to enroll.

We know, looking ahead, more dramatic change is coming as we navigate various immigration decrees and virus news. We’ve all been working really hard to maintain the pace and make smart decisions. So, let’s just pause and reflect for a moment and connect some dots.

In short, the process is: view the data, assess the tools, make a plan, execute. Sounds simple, right ; -)

Our Intead Plus library of recruitment content and worksheets has supported so many. It’s out there if you need it. Below we review our process with some helpful lists to get you thinking, considering.

This is such an important time to plan and act.

Often, as the team here begins our projects with a new client, institutional leaders apologize for the many silos across their campuses that hold information and work far too independently. We are often tasked with gathering the necessary information and bringing as much unity to the siloed teams as possible.

Deep breath.

And again.

Getting our important work done the best way: There are so many approaches and so many adjustments that are necessary as circumstances and the people involved shift. All of our talents for listening, embracing and connecting ideas, all of this is needed from all of us.

There are underlying processes to how we do enrollment marketing that are essential and consistently required regardless of the circumstances. These processes adapt as situations change. 

Knowing where your processes stand, and which dots might need more attention has real value. Read on and consider whether your enrollment management system’s dots are functioning holistically.

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Our Top 10 Blog Posts of 2019

You have spoken!

After a busy year of developing academic recruitment plans, speaking at conferences, creating compelling marketing campaigns, publishing new innovative research, and of course, sharing all the best stuff with our blog readers, we can now tell you…of all our publishing in 2019, these posts most caught your attention.

And since you have been busy as well, we know some of you may have missed our most useful stuff.

Below are posts that had the most clicks and shares – so as you peruse, note the “email this post” button at the bottom to help out your colleagues who are responsible for one enrollment thing or another.

Read on for links to 2019’s Top 10 blog hits and (bonus) our inspiring Staff Pick!

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Working with Education Agents: What Now?

This week, we are taking a look back at one of the more controversial topics (still!) in international recruitment – the use of agents. 

Originally, we thought this discussion was done when NACAC agreed that there was, in fact, an ethical way to engage agents to support your international student recruiting. Well…the debate wasn't quite over, for some.

We’ve all heard the education agent debate—how do I find and sustain ethical and productive relationships that benefit both my institution and my prospective students? How do I know whether I am working with the right agents? And ultimately—is using agents worth the risk? (Because we all know there are some bad actors out there).

This week we are taking a look at the regulations and a few of the underlying arguments and the evidence on either side.  

In September of 2016, the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) amended two parts in their guidance to U.S. educators on using education agents. This code of ethics, titled Statement of Principles of Good Practice (SPGP), was originally adopted in 2014. This document lays out the code of ethics and standards for the association and its members.

Then, in April of 2017, the U.S.-based Middle States Commission on Higher Education proposed new policy languages that would prohibit use of incentive-based compensation for international student recruitment. That objection eventually died on the vine.

Add to that the changes taking place in China and Vietnam around how these countries have recently relaxed regulations for recruiting agencies so that almost anyone can raise their hand and announce they are now a student recruiting shop.

Yet, the American Council on Education (ACE) recently released a report on internationalization efforts by U.S. institutions and they shared this: In 2011, 17% of respondents were engaged with education agents compared with 45% in 2016. Hello!

Our own recent research with FPP EDU Media that we presented at NAFSA in 2017 identified that 50% of international students find education agents helpful as they evaluate their options. And our sample size? More than 1M students surveyed resulted in 57,000+ student responses from 65 countries! (Find the link to our slides below). Those results are some of the most substantial and reliable in our industry.

Bottom Line: While the use of education agents by U.S. institutions is on the rise (considerably!), concerns about unethical practices are being addressed. Have you figured out where the best and most reliable agents are around the world? Is your institution too fearful of the downside? If so, you are probably not relying on THE recruiting channel that pretty much all institutions with any significant increase in international student population are using. And they use agents successfully. If your goal is to increase international student enrollment, ignore this recruiting channel at your own peril.

Read on to get some of the details of recent regulatory challenges and our insights into using agents to support your international student recruiting. This channel cannot be ignored. The risks are really only in whether you put the right processes in place to select and manage your recruiting team.

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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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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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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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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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Successful Recruiting Agents Look Like This

Recruiting agents are increasingly used by our university clients these days. There is far more ease in the move in this direction since NACAC removed a significant barrier. As institutions consider the options, it is important to understand how to use agents well. It would be nice if someone were to write a book about that, don’t you think?

Turns out there is a lovely online resource, an e-book that your peers have widely contributed to, reviewed and accepted as a valuable source. You can download it for free right HERE.

As fortune would have it, this e-book was written and produced by Intead (heard of those guys?) and more than 2,000 downloads later, the e-book continues to find its way into the hands of admissions teams researching best practices.

Bottom Line: Agents are a reliable way to outsource your sales processes to distant lands ONLY IF you put real budget dollars behind making those sales representatives well-versed in your university’s selling points. Sales reps can’t sell a product they don’t know well. Meet us at the AIRC and ICEF conferences coming up in December and we can teach you a whole lot more. Our ICEF Pre-conference Global Marketing Workshop for Education Institutions is filling up.

Now for some perspective on what agents do and how to figure out if they are doing it well for you.

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The Motivation to Seek Education

 

 

Welcome back to our Recruiting Intelligence Blog. With this blog, we hope to peak your curiosity.

Our team has been hard at work over the summer reviewing data and conducting research. Stay tuned each week and we will share our best work with you.

And as you plan your international student recruiting activities, consider that Intead will be presenting on topics of Global Marketing at 3 upcoming conferences:

Today, we are talking about the motivations to seek education. What makes people curious?

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Why We Use Agents – Hongqian’s Reflections

Nafsa - That's a Wrap

As a seasoned admissions colleague and first time Nafsa attendee shared with me last week, “The pace of this conference is insane!” I couldn’t agree more. And if you tried to attend the Brazilian, Turkish and New Zealander’s evening receptions, well, “insane” doesn’t start to cover it.

Following all of the great conversations we had during our 3 presentations at #Nafsa15 (slides to follow next week), we must thank all of our co-presenters and the many attendees who participated, asked questions and fostered the discussions. Digital marketing is new and constantly changing. Learning how other universities have waded into this form of global marketing helps keep us all on the right track.

Following the theme we started last week with a focus on the student experience, today we get the first-hand, personal details from Hongqian Su, a Chinese student who chose to get her Master’s Degree here in the US. The student experience is critical to our understanding where and how to allocate our limited resources for the best results.

Students and Agents

Hongqian Su, from Beijing, has just completed NYU’s prestigious and rigorous master’s program in digital marketing. With degree in hand, she is now moving on from Intead’s internship program as well and heading out into the world. The story of how she came to study in the US is informative to all of us doing international recruiting and admissions work. Note the important and influential roles of her mother and her agent and her reflection on the application process now that she has earned her degree.

Intead regularly analyzes macro data sets about digital marketing and international student mobility. We also engage in small focus groups and one-on-one conversations with international students so we don’t lose our focus on the micro interactions that inform our work.

Thank you Hongqian, for all the great work you did for Intead during your internship. We will miss you while we watch your star continue to rise.  

As for you, our readers, Hongqian’s student experience is concrete and real. Read on to gain some valuable recruiting insights. We've highlighted some key marketing points to make it easy for you.           

 ~ Ben Waxman

 

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Topics: Agents