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Recruiting Intelligence

The Fiscal Abyss Ahead?

 

That photo and headline were admittedly clickbait. There are certainly turbulent waters ahead, but no abyss from our point of view. We do have some great fiscal perspective to share here. And awesome photo, right? We took that while attending the AIRC Symposium and ICEF North America Workshop in Niagara, Canada. 

During the AIRC event, Maggie and Ben gave a truly valuable presentation with a new set of Intead slides focused on a data-driven, actionable approach to budgeting for international enrollment efforts. This session and the slides were extremely well received, especially in the currently ambiguous, post-covid student mobility climate.  


Let’s meet in New Orleans @ NAFSA 2024! 

Join one of Intead’s two NAFSA presentations: 

  • ChatGPT and AI: What are the real opportunities for enrollment management? 
    Wed., May 29 @ 1 p.m.
    This one gives you the real-world picture, filtering out all of the smoke and silliness. Featuring David L. Di Maria, Senior International Officer & Associate Vice Provost for International Education at UMBC, and Iliana Joaquin, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Intead 
  • Groundbreaking Data: International Student Employment After Graduation
    Thurs., May 30 @ 11:30 a.m.
    This one presents unprecedented data about the value of international students after they graduate. Never before research Intead conducted with support from NAFSA and 12 US institutions offers great opportunities to advocate for your internationalization efforts. Featuring Joanna Regulska, Vice Provost and Dean of Global Affairs, UC Davis and Ben Waxman, Intead CEO

Get ahead with soon-to-be-released data from Intead.  

Intead is gearing up to release 3 new proprietary data sets that will change the way your team thinks about international student recruitment in the coming year. Incredibly telling data on international student career aspirations, the companies that hire them, and how the US election figures into international student decisions. More to come at NAFSA 2024. Pre-register to receive the reports as soon as they become available. 


For the past 15 years, the Intead team has been watching the numbers and predicting the future of international student enrollment with accuracy. It was February 2020, as the Chinese government shut down travel in and out of Wuhan and Covid had just begun its rampage though Italy that we were quoted in the Boston Globe pointing to the impending global shut down of international student mobility. Not everyone was happy with our saying so. But we weren’t wrong. 

Our point: we are willing to be bold and make statements that others have every reason to avoid. Someone’s got to feed our industry sober and helpful intel without all the blather. 

So, read on for what we see ahead and will be talking about at the upcoming NAFSA and GMAC conferences. Oh, and to grab our budget planning slides from the AIRC Symposium that will be available here to our blog subscribers for just one week before we move them into our library only available to our Intead Plus subscribers.  

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The International Student POV...Intead Staffers Reflect on OPT

 

Tianyu Shen is a business analyst from China. Isabel Aucca is a digital campaign manager from Peru. These two members of the Intead team, both on STEM OPT programs through Northeastern University and Hult International Business School respectively, have amazing stories as international students, travelers, explorers, and knowledge workers here in the US.

Many of you already know Tianyu and Isabel through the conferences they attend for Intead and the work they do with our network. If you haven’t had that pleasure, be sure to introduce yourself to them at an upcoming industry conference (AIEA, NAFSA, AIRC, ICEF, etc.) These two super talents bring their skills to our work in their respective fields (market research, business and data analytics, digital campaigns development and optimization, and competitor analyses) along with incredibly valuable international perspectives.

Their comments below will quickly give you a sense of what it is like to be in their shoes and understand a bit more about what drives them. And since so many of you work to create fulfilling experiences for international students, we thought we’d use this platform to share words that will surely resonate with you and your team.


Opportunities to Meet In Person 

The Intead team is gearing up for some amazing presentations and we hope you can join us. 

  • AIRC Spring Symposium in Niagara, Canada, April 30, 2024
  • ICEF North America in Niagara, Canada, May 1-3, 202
  • NAFSA 2024 Annual Conference and Expo in New Orleans, May 28-31, 2024

Let us know if you’ll share a cup of coffee and a conversation about all things global and digital (info@intead.com) 


As you read the perspective below, consider what it is that drove their decisions to study and work outside of their home countries. Note the courageous decisions they made and the personality traits that are likely common to many of the international students you are seeking. It is these kinds of personal reflections that inform larger marketing strategies and help us create truly engaging content to attract future international students to our institutions.

Tianyu, who grew up in China, attended an English language institute in Boston before earning his undergrad degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and then his master’s at Northeastern University. As excellent as this background is, it does not provide andy indication of the genuinely joyful, energetic, and thoughtful person he is.

What he has to say about where he is now: “It’s human nature. When you receive something and people support you, you want to give back. For me, I feel so grateful for all of the education I received. It’s life-changing. And I’m grateful for all the people who helped me out along the way. Now, working at Intead I can help others who are standing where I once stood. I’m so thankful.”

The feeling is absolutely mutual.

Isabel, an undeniable dynamo from Peru who speaks three languages (Spanish, Portuguese, and English), earned her undergrad from the Universidad del Pacifico in Lima and her master’s from Hult International Business School in Massachusetts.

“Arriving at a place like Intead, it’s the purpose they have, it’s the type of company where you can be hands-on in every project – all of varying client scopes – and so many different ways to engage with the work. On one project I wear a digital hat, another I’m focused on research, and on others I get to be really creative about the overall marketing plan. That sets personalities like me up for success."

Isabel absolutely does her part to set us (and that means you) up for success, as well.

Following our recent #AIRC2023 full-day digital marketing workshop in December, both Isabel and Tianyu independently posted to LinkedIn about their experience helping others learn their craft during the workshop. This post brings their reflections to you.

Read on…

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AIRC 2023 Reflections: Slides Now Available

 

As I headed to Phoenix for the AIRC 2023 conference, I wondered if the window had already closed for education institutions just now considering starting up with commission-based agents as an international student recruitment channel. Happy to tell you, that window has not closed at all.  

Yet, there is a lot to consider for those institutions just starting, and those having been at it for years. 

With the largest AIRC conference to-date (480 attendees), more than 200 first timers attended. Clearly there is demand to learn more about how effective university-agent partnerships work. And having been part of the AIRC community for 14 of their 15-year history, I can tell you that AIRC is one of the best places to learn about international student enrollment growth. 

From sample contracts to efficient agent engagement policies and practices, AIRC’s documentation and counsel are outstanding. This year, 7 members of the Intead team traveled to Phoenix to attend, in part because the learning opportunities and global connections at this conference are among the best in the industry. The other part was the opportunity to share our own expertise with the attendees at our full-day Global Marketing Workshop. That was a hoot. The Intead team just loves this stuff. 


We’ll be at AIEA in DC in about 6 weeks and participating in 3 great presentations: 

  • AI for enrollment management  
  • Entrepreneurial leadership in bureaucratic environments 
  • A discussion around International Student Points of Entry and a new international student-focused publication to be released later in 2024 

And of course, we will be presenting at NAFSA in New Orleans in late May. If you’d like to schedule time to chat over coffee instead of over Zoom, please be in touch (info@intead.com). 


At AIRC 2023, we gave our full-day Global Marketing Workshop with half a day devoted to an interactive lecture on the fundamentals of the strategy that drives a university’s tactical execution. After lunch, we dove into 1:1 consulting with participants to address the group’s self-identified greatest needs.  

It was fascinating to see how our workshop attendees debated and decided amongst themselves what the second half topics should be. Here’s where we ended up: 

  • I need a marketing budget, what do I do to get it approved? 
  • I have a marketing budget. Now what? 
  • Identifying and filling resource gaps 
  • Processes for nurturing and converting leads 
  • Creating authentic and powerful recruitment content 

Do these topics resonate for you? Be in touch and we can share what we know and how we have helped institutions like yours succeed.  

During the AIRC conference, Intead’s Sr. Digital Marketing Manager Iliana Joaquin joined Dr. David DiMaria, SIO at UMBC, for a practical discussion about how AI and ChatGPT are being used today in enrollment management and what we can realistically expect in the next year as AI-driven tools evolve. Short answer – it ain’t there yet, but it very likely will be in the next couple of years. So much more to talk about on this topic. There are definitely some gains that can be made in some areas, but the hype from the vendors is creating so much noise. Very frustrating.

Later at the conference, I ran a session with Vanessa Andrade about staffing challenges that so many institutions are facing today. The discussion about what skills and tasks to hire for and what to outsource was dynamic with so many additions from the folks in the room. This is what we absolutely love about the AIRC conference.

We are making these insightful presentations available to blog subscribers for free. Download them here.

Below we summarize 3 key take-aways from the conference. Please read on… 

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Humanizing the Education Agent

Is it all about the enrollment numbers? Hitting “the number” is the driving force behind so much effort. So much pressure. A growing number of US universities now use education agents. And now, more universities are evaluating agent aggregators. Many have contracts in place with aggregators already and we hope those early adopters take a squinty-eyed, very close look at the results of those contracts.

How many applications? How many enrolled? And the quality of those students throughout the process. Are they succeeding academically?

If you are not familiar, check out our post and a recent (Dec 2022) lively ICEF panel discussion here. Hitting you in the face is a changing student landscape, the pressure to hit your enrollment number, and the agent aggregators who may be able to help, and quickly. Also in your face: the question of trust and integrity.

Some institutions have a hard enough time outsourcing their recruitment to individual agents, even those with third-party accreditation like AIRC. And beyond education agents who also use subagents, agent aggregators are farming out recruitment processes on a massive scale around the world using online platforms to scale the work rapidly. Questions arise as to how well any particular subagent is familiar with your institution, much less whether they are vetted for integrity.

Smart institutions want to know who’s representing their brand on their behalf. Fact: there’s just not enough transparency right now in this student recruitment system.

To be clear, we are in favor of agents. Human agents with whom you can connect directly, vet their talent, train, and guide. Intead has been a strategic partner to AIRC for more than a decade and our team fully supports ICEF’s efforts to bring enrollment leaders together with education agents from around the world. Both organizations push for clearly articulated best practices.

For more insights, check out our webinar with AIRC about the State of the Field. Our Intead Plus subscribers also have access to our ebook on University-Agent Partnership Trend Data and our Agent Management ebook all in our resource library available to all.

What we all know is that the system is less than perfect and students lose out when universities and agents are not doing their jobs with integrity.

Education agents, when brought into the fold as a partner, can be incredibly valuable. The key: partnerships, as in humans supporting other humans. 

Like any relationship, a meaningful partnership is built not bought. Is this even possible with the aggregator trend? Scale brings problems and when folks are lazy (and human beings tend to be), scale can bring disaster.

Look at the agent aggregator model from a simple business process point of view. If a company has 7,000 vetted partner sales offices, that company would need a robust credentialing team to monitor and control for quality. They would have a defined process for maintaining a certain quality of sales office staff hiring, training, work processes, and regular review of results delivered. Consider the level of effort hospitals go through to confirm the credentials and qualifications of their clinicians and physicians who have admitting privileges.

As you consider signing up with an agent aggregator, we highly recommend you ask tough questions about their staffing process, the vetting, and the monitoring. For institutions sharing their brand reputation with these outsource partners, it is buyer beware. Like super beware.

If you are not finding the quality control measures in place on the agent aggregator’s side, that means the quality control must be staffed on your side. Which then starts to beg the question: what are you paying for? Answer: the broad, global connection network. Keep in mind, that is something you can develop yourself in a way that is more targeted and more sustainable over the long term. Many institutions with thousands of international students started that process years ago and rely on their network today.

Not sure how to evaluate or where to start? Drop us a note.

Some of these aggregators are growing fast and coming on strong. They are shaking up the education market and making trusted agencies nervous. There are simply too many subagents operating in anonymity. Anonymity creates opportunities for questionable behavior (and we are being nice with our choice of words here).

 As we all broaden our scope to avoid the US domestic enrollment cliff and fold new target regions into our recruitment strategies, agents have an important role to play. Read on for 3 valuable tips on how to get the most out of this potentially beneficial partnership. Hint: it all comes back to developing trusting relationships with fellow, reliable humans.

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12 Ways To Develop Strategic Advantage For Enrollment

The student recruitment landscape has been in a state of flux that was forced upon all of us. Institutions have adapted in obvious ways (ramping up online education) and subtler ways that vary by institution. [Note: In Spring 2023, We updated this blog post from our previous summary of 10 international recruitment options to now incorporate 12 options]

Looking a bit over the horizon, we recognize that there is always the potential for unanticipated disruptions in addition to the challenging factors we see very clearly. As we consider what is next, the lever that has the greatest value is flexibility. The ability to ramp up or down with relative ease. The avoidance of plans that lock us into something long-term constricting our ability to adapt as circumstances change.

Building Flexibility Into the System

With that in mind, we offer up a quick comparison of 12 ways to develop strategic advantage for enrollment and their relative flexibility. In this case, we measure flexibility by two factors:

  • Time: Investment of administrative/staff time into making it happen and sustaining it
  • Money: Investment of capital (cash out) to make it happen

When we consider time, we also think about commitment – alliances and partnerships come with contracts that may or may not be easy to modify or escape from as factors on the ground change.

All in all, we see the largest value in those options that offer the greatest flexibility – least amount of effort (time), least amount of financial investment (money), and ability to ramp up or down on short notice (flexible contracts).

A little ways back, Brad Farnsworth, formerly at ACE and now running Fox Hollow Advisory, joined me to present at the CIEE Summit 2021. We discussed some of the options raised in this blog post and how they relate to institutional initiatives that deepen internationalization efforts.

Read on for more on those strategic advantages.

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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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Succeed in the New Student Landscape: A Can’t-Miss Event

At some point when we listen to stories of successful initiatives, part of that story almost always includes a line like this: "Well, we were really curious about..."

How is your curiosity quotient these days?

Success emerges from teams that want to know and understand. That desire, and how well you act on and fulfill that desire speaks to the drive to succeed.

In a few weeks, a select few of your peers will gather with leaders in our field of international recruiting for a full-day, hands-on workshop to seriously get stuff done. Dubbed “Succeeding in the New Student Landscape,” this event is designed to help you diversify and build your global student recruitment plan for 2023 and beyond. This event offers small-batch, intensely focused conversations to apply the latest data, trends, perspectives, and best practices to your institution's current state. 

We are keeping it small so that every participant gets the kind of attention that addresses the immediate and long-term thinking needed for each unique institution.

The details:

  • December 13, 2022 (falling conveniently between the AIRC and ICEF conferences)
  • On campus at San Diego State University
  • 19 industry thought leaders as your faculty and keynote speakers
  • Two tracks: Get It Done (Track I), Leadership (Track II)
  • Two on-target keynotes: Social Justice as it relates to International Student Attraction (lunch), and Chinese Student Influencers Today (dinner)
  • Cost (inclusive of all meals): $350 

Ready to learn more? Read on for our list of speakers, moderators, and full-day breakdown. We hope to see you there! There are still spaces left as of this blog posting date.

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Reverse Enrollment Declines: Use Marketing Tech Better

So many dashboards. So little time.

Where is success hiding? How much investment will it take to achieve our targets?

With student mobility still in a state of flux, all bets are off for your predictive models. Or are they?

Today, we are talking to those with a CRM and marketing automation tools already in place.

Is this you? Your system works well enough and you can see some obvious gaps in functionality and interconnectedness. But you have what you have and there is no immediate opportunity to upgrade or change what you have. So…it is all about using the tools you have, better.

How do we get there? How do we know which features have real value to our operations? How can we use what we know to achieve better results?

We are heading into four wonderful days of interacting with our peers at the AIRC conference in Miami this week. The Intead team will be presenting on innovative ways to use the rising tide of influencer marketing for academia (it’s not going to be what you might think), and we will be presenting on innovative approaches to grad student marketing.

We can’t give enough thanks to our colleagues Toni Jaeger-Fine from Fordham Law School, Ita Duron from Massachusetts College of Health Sciences, and Kirsten Feddersen from Northeastern University all joining us on the dais to share our experiences and ideas. SO many ideas. Testing and confirming marketing approaches that are unique to each institution’s strengths.

Reach out if you would like to share a cup of coffee in Miami!

Read on for our two concrete recommendations for using your marketing tech better.

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Small Talk, So Underrated

You are welcome here.

DEI efforts to address inclusion.

These are big concepts that deserve big discussions on campuses everywhere. Discussions with senior leaders setting policies and developing programs to make everyone on campus feel involved and connected.

And to make all that happen, that feeling of being welcome and included, will rely on some of the small things that often are met with eye rolls. Yet, these small things are really important to this whole inclusion effort.

You know that inside joke and the trendy celebrity stuff you are not on top of? The conversation that just kind of left you like roadkill as it blew right by? Maybe silly. Perhaps kind of uncomfortable. Happens to all of us. And it happens to your new students frequently. Domestic, yes. International, all the time.

If you think small talk is meaningless, think again.

In our work for a large, highly ranked Midwestern institution, we were talking with Pham (not his real name). He traveled from Vietnam for his US studies. A natural networker, smart, interested in business, he chose to major in Business Management Information Systems and Finance. With that degree, it is no wonder he was snapped up by Deloitte where he currently works as a Senior Consultant in Tax Management.

To hear Pham tell it, connecting to the US community with small talk was critical to his success. He came to understand this during his studies as he tried to connect with the other international students and with his American peers. He found he was struggling to make friends.

Read on for Pham's perspective and our tips for getting these really important conversations started. It is all about personal and student success. 

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Flying Forward with In-Person Learning: Executive Edition

Let’s get a sneak peek at what the Intead team has in store for our fellow AIRC conference colleagues this year. A powerful group of student enrollment professionals will be gathering in Miami in just a few days. We can’t wait!

At this year’s AIRC conference (Miami, Dec 8-11), I will be sharing what we have learned recently through our work with three outstanding institutions. Our two conference session presentations this year speak to getting students to become aware of, and engaged by, the specific learning opportunities your institution offers. We hope you can join us.

  • Finding and Managing Brand Ambassadors for Recruitment
    • Intead with Northeastern University’s Kirsten Feddersen, Senior Director of International Enrollment Management. This one is truly a cutting edge take on influencer marketing and Gen Z attraction.
  • Innovative Recruiting Approaches for Specialty Grad Programs
    • Intead with Fordham Law School’s Toni Jaeger-Fine, Assistant Dean of International and Non-J.D. Programs and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences’ Ita Duron, Executive Director of Global Strategies & International Programs. This one looks at a range of creative student recruiting alternatives to digital campaigns.

We are all eager for first-hand experiential learning opportunities and we complement that with the welcome release of the latest data from IIE’s Open Doors, NAFSA’s economic impact analysis, Common App's data, and the National Clearinghouse’s enrollment numbers that help inform the marketing magic that underpins our work here at Intead.

Read on for a bit of pre-conference insight into why these two conference session presentations rose to the top of our list this year.

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