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Recruiting Intelligence

International Student Rebound: IIE’s Latest Survey

The near-term forecast: sunnier skies for international student recruitment.

That’s according to the “Spring 2022 Snapshot on International Educational Exchange” by the Institute of International Education (IIE). The long-running Snapshot series is part of IIE’s efforts to map the effects of notable current events on international educational exchange to and from the US. This latest release, which analyzes a full 559 institutions that completed the survey, includes the effect of COVID-19 as well as the war in Ukraine.

Look, every time the US suffers a drop due to anti-immigrant rhetoric out of Washington, policies that hinder work opportunities for international graduates, or less controllable obstacles like pandemics and international conflicts, each time these serious situations emerge, there are prognosticators predicting the end of US recruiting strength.

Every year, for more than a decade, at least one-third of US institutions saw a decline in their international student population. During the pandemic, that pain was spread much, much further, and deeper.

The past decade has been full of ups and downs and the US continues to find a welcome international audience despite it all. Opportunities for growth are out there for those institutions willing to put in the effort and make the investment.

Four key findings surfaced from the latest IIE report:

  • #1 Most international students studied in person on US campuses in spring 2022.
  • #2 US colleges and universities are supporting international students during the Ukraine crisis.
  • #3 International student applications continued to increase.
  • #4 In-person study abroad rebounds.

Offering up a few road signs to point you in the right direction

A report is just a report until you put it to use. Read on to better understand how you can use the survey to bolster your recruitment strategy this fall as well as learn what others are already doing.

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Getting Started with TikTok Marketing for Ed Institutions

Marketing Rule No. 1: Be where your target demographic is. If your audience skews toward ages 16 to 24, then your audience is on TikTok. Know anyone focused on this market? We thought so.

TikTok is no longer exclusively a place for teens to post cutesy dance videos. When done correctly, this A-list short-form video platform is the perfect way for institutions to connect with prospective and current students in a format that makes sense to them. There’s a reason, after all, why TikTok is the first non-Facebook app to achieve 3 billion global downloads.

Your job: it’s all about getting the user experience right. If your university or private high school is not already on TikTok, we have to ask, why not?

Wait, we can probably answer that! Is it staffing shortages? (That's another blog post altogether).

We’ll go further out on the limb and suggest you may be struggling with developing a strategy for the platform (what behaviors are you trying to push?) and the challenge of creative execution (who has time to create all that fun stuff?). You know this already: TikTok is no place for drab, factual, instructional content.

You probably know this as well (or at least have sense of it): TikTok has 1 billion monthly active users, making it one of the fastest-growing social networks globally. It also has 50 million daily active users in the US, meaning 18.68% of Americans log into TikTok every day.

Due to its eerily intelligent algorithm pushing content onto its “For You” discovery feed (the page you see when you fire up the app), it’s easier than you may think for new viewers (aka prospective students) to discover your institution’s account. To boot, content created for TikTok can be repurposed for Instagram Reels, Twitter, and other platforms, making it a time-effective investment.

Read on to learn how your enrollment marketing team can develop and execute a savvy TikTok strategy that will get you noticed and help boost your enrollment…

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Recruiting Intel Digest: The Most Useful Stuff from Q2 2022

…and that’s a wrap for Q2 ‘22. While personally there were a few bumps along the way (thanks Covid for yanking #NAFSA2022 out from under me!), overall, the industry’s mood is decidedly improved over this time last year. Cautiously so, anyway.

Recent news we are following says that language programs are starting to recover from huge pandemic losses. Middle Eastern adults/executives are showing up first. As we know, language programs often act as canaries in the coal mine falling or rising in advance of fuller degree/certificate programs.

We bet you likely didn’t catch all of our posts this spring, admissions season being what it is – busy. Not to worry, we’ve compiled a few we think you won’t want to miss. Read on for our quarterly recap of the most valuable news from Q2 2022 and the Intead resources available to you.

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State of Higher Education 2022: Top 5 Takeaways

Your campus may feel a little cozier this fall as housing units start to fill up again. Welcome news, right?

The enrollment dip we’ve been living through could rebound to pre-pandemic levels, meaning we may see nearly 1 million more enrolled students aged 18-24 in 2022 than in 2021. This is according to analytics giant Gallup.

Likely your team is seeing a positive shift in inquiry and applications. (No? Then be in touch).

The big question still is whether all that activity results in actual enrollments. There is reason to be skeptical at many institutions.

In Gallup’s recently issued The State of Higher Education 2022 Report, done in partnership with Lumina Foundation, we see some interesting results. The central goal of their work: to help inform institutions how to better support current and prospective students. The survey included adults aged 18+ who have completed high school and are living in the US.

Many survey participants are currently pursuing a degree, others unenrolled from their certificate or degree program since Covid. Many others are prospective students who never enrolled in a certificate or degree program after high school.

We are thrilled to have these insights in advance of #NAFSA22 to inform our discussions with all of you. If you’ve not yet scheduled a meeting with us at the conference, please be in touch quickly. Our schedule is nearly filled up. You’ll be receiving a summary of our 4 NAFSA don’t-wanna-miss-em presentations by email.

From Gallup, we took special note of the finding that despite the many (many) disruptions caused by the pandemic, US adults (aged 18-29) remain interested in pursuing higher education. There have been many stories of the growing anit-higher ed sentiment. So how do we lock in on those with high intent?

If you haven’t read the report, it’s one you won’t want to miss. Read on for a link to the report and the top 5 takeaways we think will be the most valuable to your team…

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New Market Entry: Key Benchmarks for Student Recruitment Initiatives

"Where else should we be?"

This question comes up consistently in our workshops, webinars, and client conversations,

The reality: you’ve been wanting to diversify your recruitment efforts for years. Until the pandemic and the latest global political wrangling made recruiting from China problematic, your leadership wouldn’t listen. Now they will and they’re wondering why you hadn’t diversified earlier. 🙄

China and India have always been safe bets for international student recruitment. Of the nearly 1 million international students in the US, 34.7% are from #1 student sender China and 18.3% from #2 India, per the latest Open Doors data. #3 South Korea claims a distant 4.3%.

Despite Covid, these sources of international students in the US remain front and center.

If the majority of your recruitment efforts are focused on China and India, well, we get it. Your leadership team is comfortable investing where they feel safe and is typically fearful of starting something new. These markets are proven and for the most part steady, pandemics notwithstanding. But should all your eggs be in these two baskets?

Of course not.

Relying on only one or two markets for the majority of your international student intake leaves your institution vulnerable to market fluctuations. For most institutions, that strategy does not align with the overarching mission of diversifying your student body. It only aligns with the revenue side of the equation.

Here’s the thing: you relied heavily on those two markets because of the significant challenges of identifying and succeeding in a new market. How do you even do that?

[Side Note: maybe you’ll want to start with our country comparison cheat sheet]

So, let’s suppose you’ve done the market research analysis and you’ve found a new market (or two). How do you know if you’ve selected the right one(s)? How do you evaluate your investments in these new markets since they don’t behave like the markets where you already have experience?

You know it will take patience, too, as most institutions won’t yield real results until 2+ years of targeted recruiting and nurturing. Will your institutional leadership give you enough time to prove the effort? Or will they see the lack of traction after year one and pull the plug? (You’ve seen that before, we know).

This is where identifying effective benchmarks can help you set expectations and make the case for sustained investment.

We’ll be talking about this and so much more at #NAFSA2022 in Denver this month. Be in touch to set up a meeting with us. And please join us for one of our four interactive NAFSA presentations where we are honored to share the dais with our colleagues from Benedict College, San Diego State University, Clark University, Northeastern University, CIEE, ICEF, and GNET.

Read on to learn how you can tell which new markets are a good idea to enter and how to know if early recruitment efforts are likely to create the traction you need over time. Use these benchmarks to create your plan and set leadership expectations.

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Getting Started With Building an Audience

In the higher education space, your institution is competing with so many options that prospective students have. We know that most students attend a university within 50 miles of their home while large state institutions and the elite options have a stronger draw from coast to coast and beyond.

With these realities in mind, today we consider a foundational marketing goal: building a receptive audience so you can nurture prospective students from the point of awareness and inquiry to enrollment, no matter where they reside.

To state the obvious: virtual tours and informational webinars have taken on a bigger role (fewer campus visits), so a robust and engaging digital presence has never been more important to your recruitment process. Has your team evaluated and adjusted your approach to the student journey? Meeting them where they are in each step of their decision-making process?

We’ve offered a number of educational posts on student journey mapping processes you may want to read (for reference: our recent series Tracing the Student Journey Part 1 and Part 2).

We'll be talking about these enrollment management and student recruiting approaches and so much more at #NAFSA22 in just a few weeks. Let us know if you'd like to schedule a coffee with one of our team. We are leading 4 NAFSA sessions this year and one of them received the honor of being selected for live broadcast. Watch this space for details and we hope you can join us.

For now, read on for our top recommendations on how to build an audience online.

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The Rise of Student Retention as Key to Recruitment

From your steeped-in-student-recruitment vantage point, you see quite clearly the symbiotic relationship retention has with your recruitment efforts and resulting yield. It has everything to do with your student services, student success, and all the small-batch interactions you do to ensure your students experience both.

As David Hautanen, Vice President for Enrollment Management at St. Mary’s College of Maryland said so well in a recent Recruiting Intelligence post: "Retention is both a moral and economic imperative." We wholeheartedly agree. And it is as true for students as it is for institutions. 

We can dive into all of this with you at #Nafsa2022 in Denver. Let us know if you’ll be there and want to share a cup of coffee.

As campuses across the globe emerge from their pandemic safety bubbles and return to recruitment as usual (more or less), now is a really good time to rethink your institution’s retention efforts—and the student-first mentality it requires.

The bottom line: it’s your team’s soft skills that matter most and their availability to use them. Read on for our take…

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Recruiting Intel Digest: The Most Useful Stuff from Q1 2022

The first quarter of 2022 dealt its fair share of surprises, and then some. The pandemic loosened its grip (for the time being). Northern Europe was thrust into a war. These events are deeply personal and deeply tied to our everyday work in higher education. And then there were the everyday surprises courtesy of another enrollment and budget planning season. Still, the world kept turning and we kept acting on the opportunities we see for improvement in everything we are able to touch.

In the midst of all this, you may have missed a few of our top posts. No matter! We’re here to point you in the right direction. Read on for our quarterly recap of the most valuable stuff from Q1 2022 and the Intead resources available to you.

And, if you’ll be attending the NAFSA 2022 in Denver (May 31-June 3), be in touch so we can set aside time for a coffee and exchange of ideas. We’ll have 4 NAFSA presentations all covering different aspects of global recruiting. One of them has been selected by NAFSA for live-stream to give more folks access to the amazing panel that includes Benedict College, Clark University, and CIEE. More on that in the coming weeks.

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Recruiting Intel Digest: The Most Useful Stuff from Q4 2021

Wrapping up 2021 was no easy feat. We’ve seen student enrollment numbers fall, rise, and flatten with the evolving worldwide pandemic that is COVID-19. More than a few in our field are burned out and trying hard to muster the energy to figure out how to bring their students the best experience possible.

We’re right there with you, wherever you are. Time to turn our focus to what we’ve learned from our recent experiences. Settle in for a Q4 wrap up of the info that can help you shape your 2022-23 plans. From strategy to tactics like chatbots and student recruitment platforms we know all of this will be up your ally.

Read on for our quarterly recap of Intead resources available to you — Q4, all in one place.
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Recruiting Intel Digest: The Most Useful Stuff from Q3 2021

No quiet summer here--things have only sped up this quarter as institutions recalibrated their approaches to the ongoing hurdles and opportunities of the pandemic. With innovative thinking and disciplined strategy, your colleagues are tackling the big issues of the fall and considering how to adapt for spring and fall 2022. Today’s post points you to some of the high-performance best practices we’ve shared over the past 3 months to help during these times of uncertainty. 

So, grab a cup of coffee and before you finish it, we know you’ll be sharing links from this Q3 2021 wrap up with your enrollment team and colleagues with the power to make positive change for students around the world.

Read on for our quarterly recap of Intead resources available to you — all in one place. Plus, a preview of what’s coming next. But first:

PARTICIPATE AND LEARN: Opportunities up stay current and up your game:

  • October 5, NAFSA All-Region Summit Session: UMBC and Intead present “0-60 Internationalization” — Register HERE.
  • October 12, AIRC hosted Webinar: Technion Israel Institute of Technology and Intead present “Shifting Student Perspectives: Digital Marketing Now” — Free to AIRC members and $45 for non-members. Register HERE. (If your institution is not an AIRC member, hit us up for a code and we'll see about getting you past the velvet ropes.)
  • IIENetworker fall issue publishes Intead’s 2021 market research on Indian and Chinese student mobility. See below for a link to the magazine full of insights.
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