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Recruiting Intelligence

KYN 2024: What Matters Most to Prospective International Students

 

Students as consumers and the consumer insights that matter.  

Getting to the mindset of international and domestic students is central to what we do. Last week we unveiled a new study on career pathways for international students seeking US work experience. If you haven’t had a chance to review the report, it’s worth your time. The report provides fresh insights into what a US degree actually produces for international students, offering a new way to quantify the value of your degree for all of those ROI-minded student prospects (and their families).  

This week we shift our focus to other factors that influence international student decisions to study abroad, including how the US presidential election factors into their choices. We did this research back in 2016 (the Trump/Clinton match up). Now we have new student data to compare and, YES! it is fascinating. 

In partnership with global study choice platform Studyportals, we distributed a 13-question survey via email to Studyportals account holders and placed banner ads visible to their website visitors. All told, 2,492 respondents from 106 countries across the globe participated. A significant percentage of responses came from students in African nations.  

There were some real surprises. Spoiler Alert: 2024 is NOT 2016. 


Our next opportunities to meet! 

GMAC Annual Conference, New Orleans, June 19 – 21, 2024. Ben will be presenting TODAY on how global elections are influencing student mobility. More than just the US presidential election has the power to upend what students will choose to do next.  

EducationUSA, Washington, D.C., July 30-August 1. Ben and Virginia Commonwealth University SIO Jill Blondin will share insights on Navigating Budget Challenges in International Recruitment: Practical Strategies for Every Phase.  

Be in touch! We’ll buy the coffee. 


Today, we share the Know Your Neighborhood (KYN) 2024 Survey Summary Report with you – our first post-pandemic addition to the KYN series. Previous KYN full reports are available to Intead Plus members. The 2019 report on emerging markets (Africa and Latin America) still has legs. The others have some still valid nuggets on cultural differences even though they are now 5 to 7 years old. Helpful stuff considering that 50,000+ international students completed our surveys. 

In our latest KYN report, we unlock current insights into the preferences and motivations of prospective international students, including the impact of political fatigue, observations on a possible rise in cynicism, and more. We share observations that suggest these feelings have opened some students to studying in previously avoided countries. And, of course, we get into the influence of families on prospective student decision-making. 

If you’ve been following along these past few weeks, you already know there has been a shift in priorities among international education seekers since our last KYN study done in the midst of and after the wild and surprising 2016 election year. Other than perhaps Karl Rove, no one really thought Mr. Trump would win in 2016. 

At the time, very few (14%) international student respondents said they would be more likely to study in the US should Donald Trump win the election. This go ‘round that number jumps to 30% who say more likely 

Asked another way, in 2016 the majority (54%) said they would beless likely to study in the US should Mr. Trump win. That number dropped considerably in 2024 to 28%. What’s more, 42% this year say it won’t make a difference who wins. It’s just not as important to today’s cohort.  

We connected with so many of you over these stats at NAFSA a few weeks ago (what a week that was!). But, if we didn’t get that chance to chat in person, not to worry. Today’s summary report will give you what you need to know about the current international student mindset. It offers the core quantitative facts from our research as well as our recommendations on how your team may want to react to this news.   

Do, however, stay tuned as our data analysts are still wading through the quite telling qualitative responses. We are getting more insights organized for publication later this summer. (Hey, if you are reading this based on a share from a colleague, be sure to subscribe to our blog!) 

Read on to download our KYN 2024 Survey Summary Report and for 4 key takeaways from the study… 

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Career Success for US-Educated International Students?

 

Career opportunity is the primary motivating factor for international students. All our research into the international student journey says so. We’ve known this for a long time. If you can demonstrate that your degrees pave a beaten path to positive career outcomes, then you’ve got your prospect’s ear. Not many institutions can back up their promises with data...until now. 

Institutions seem to have had a hard time making the case for bottom line ROI. Sure, there’s the usual “x% employed within 6 months” data every institution flaunts, but what does that really tell a student who’s halfway around the world? Not a whole lot. We’re not saying to nix that stat – definitely keep it – but it’s hardly concrete proof for your prospective students. 

The fact is most institutions simply don’t have the student data on the whole job search process to offer much more. Especially for international students graduating from your specific institution. 

Nor do most institutions have the bandwidth to think it through for the international cohort. But data does exist that can help you uncover a truer and fuller picture of career potential for your international students. It’s a matter of knowing where to look, how to look, how to clean and crunch the data, and then interpret that data appropriately.  

Enter Intead’s analytics team and our colleagues at F1 Hire! On offer to you for download: our first Connecting Dots study, How International Students are Finding US Jobs: A Look at the Students, Degrees, and Institutions Producing Success


Our next opportunities to meet! 

GMAC Annual Conference, New Orleans, June 19 – 21, 2024. Ben will be presenting on how global elections are influencing student mobility. More than just the US presidential election has the power to upend what students will choose to do next.  

EducationUSA, Washington, D.C., July 30-August 1. Ben and Viginia Commonwealth University SIO Jill Blondin will share insights on Navigating Budget Challenges in International Recruitment: Practical Strategies for Every Phase.  

Be in touch! We’ll buy the coffee. 


Our newest dataset focuses on practical next steps for international graduates. The ROI insight they’re really after. And for institutions, our approach to analyzing US Department of Labor data can help your marketing recruitment team stand out at any student fair anywhere in the world. Wanna see how? Read on to download our report... 

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Groundbreaking Data: International Student Employment After Graduation

 

The NAFSA room was sold out; every seat taken.  

That morning we really weren’t sure what to expect with our session being held in the very furthest room on the 3rd floor of the New Orleans Convention Center. And that convention center is one of the largest we’ve ever seen. Like, you need an Uber to get from one end to the other. 

We could not have been more thrilled with the turn out. What everyone came for: new data, never before collected, on what international students are doing after they earn a US degree. 

What’s been missing from our community’s conversation on the value of US degrees for international students is real ROI. Sure, we talk about ROI: “94% of our students are employed or pursuing advanced degrees 6 months from graduation.” But we’ve never quantified actual ROI...until now.  

Today we’re sharing a preview of new research on the career progress of international students who graduated from US institutions. (The full report will publish later this summer. Be among the first to receive this and 2 other groundbreaking reports by pre-registering here. You’ll also get our NAFSA 2024 session slides.)  

This NAFSA research report will be the first of what will become an even deeper analysis based on more research between now and 2025. We want to truly understand what a US degree produces for international students. Is it worth their investment? Is it worth ours? This is data we’ve been wanting to mine for years.   


Our next opportunities to meet! 

GMAC Annual Conference, New Orleans, June 19 – 21, 2024. Ben will be presenting on how global elections are influencing student mobility. More than just the US presidential election has the power to upend what students will choose to do next.  

EducationUSA, Washington, D.C., July 30-August 1. Ben and Viginia Commonwealth University SIO Jill Blondin will share insights on Navigating Budget Challenges in International Recruitment: Practical Strategies for Every Phase.  

Be in touch! We’ll buy the coffee. 


I was extremely honored to have presented our latest research at NAFSA last week alongside Dr. Joanna Regulska, vice provost and dean of global affairs at UC Davis. UC Davis is one of the 12 innovative and forward-thinking institutions participating in this groundbreaking study. 

Our research involved a 22-question survey sent to international students who graduated from our 12 university partners between 2019 and 2023 (see below for the full list). With a 5.3% response rate, 1,797 graduates from 131 countries answered our survey questions. Of these, 1,323 still reside in the US, 474 live elsewhere. 

What we learned will have a direct impact on international student recruitment, as well as offer perspective on US immigration policy. Data informs how we make sense of the world and move forward as a community and a society. The data collected encourages us to understand the value of CPT/OPT to our international students and the US.  

Laid bare: the real outcomes and the positive impact international student graduates are having on the US economy.  

For those of you interested in taking part in our next survey, be in touch at info@intead.com. So many of our higher ed colleagues at the conference raised their hands to evaluate participating in the next research phase of this project. Be a part of that! 

Below we share key takeaways from our research and provide you quick access to the slides from our NAFSA presentation. Read on... 

 

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KYN 2024: Will the US Election Shape International Student Decisions

 

Greetings from New Orleans!  

NAFSA 2024 is well underway, and we are here for it. Literally. There are a ton of Intead team members in the Big Easy this year and we have a lot to talk about, not to mention all that we have to learn. Are you here, too? Let us know (info@intead.com). We’d love to connect! 

If you’ve been following our posts, then you already know we’ve been waist deep in data for months. The result of which is three different reports that we think will help shape the way you approach international student recruitment. Actionable insights delivered. 

One of our new outputs is a continuation of our popular Know Your Neighborhood (KYN) series. This time, a global survey done in conjunction with the global study choice platform Studyportals. 


Let’s meet in New Orleans @ NAFSA 2024! 

Join one of Intead’s two presentations: 

  • ChatGPT and AI: What are the real opportunities for enrollment management? 
    TODAY (Wed 5/29/2024) @ 1 p.m. NOCC Room 391
    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, 2024 @ 11:30 a.m. NOCC Room 398-399
    Featuring Dr. Joanna Regulska, Vice Provost and Dean – Global Affairs, UC Davis and NAFSA Board Member with Ben Waxman, Intead CEO 

Our newest KYN report is our first post-pandemic addition to the series. In it you will find an analysis of the influencing factors and desires of international education-seekers when choosing where and what to study. And this includes the influence of politics and political leadership on their decisions – a question mark for many of us as we move through this long (and painful?) US presidential election season. Does this matter to international students? You betchya! 

The analysis is a thought-provoking comparison to our oft cited 2016 Know Your Neighborhood survey (Intead Plus members can access the full series here), which was conducted with FPP EDU media on the precipice of and in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election when Mr. Donald Trump was a first time Republican Presidential Nominee. Our report lays bare the undeniable shifts in the priorities of international education-seekers in the time since, including their current perspective on choosing to study in the US based on the winner of the 2024 US presidential election (Mr. Donald Trump versus Mr. Joe Biden).  

Were our findings surprising? You be the judge: 

  • 30% of the international student respondents are more likely to want to study in the US if Mr. Trump wins, compared to just 14% who said so in the lead up to the 2016 election. 
  • 28% are less likely to want to study in the US if Mr. Trump wins, compared to 54% who said so in 2016. 
  • 42% said it didn’t make a difference, compared to 32% in 2016. 

Interesting. And we haven’t even gotten to the qualitative insights that really illuminate international student sentiment. We will have that ready for you soon. 

Until then we are offering our blog readers key findings from the Know Your Neighborhood 2024 survey via a downloadable infographic that will give you a lot to think about. It will certainly give you something to talk about. In fact, we can’t think of a better conversation starter for those mingling about at NAFSA this week. Give it a try! Read on… 

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How International Students are Finding US Jobs

 

No one on the Intead team has participated in an Iron Man competition, but the adrenaline levels we are experiencing make me wonder if preparing three different, compelling, in-depth reports in time for NAFSA next week compares. I'm confirming that no one from our team will be running, biking, or swimming to New Orleans for NAFSA, but we have been running the analytics on some really novel data all related to different aspects of the international student journey. We’re so close to the finish line! 

The work has been exciting, sometimes difficult, and the data is beyond beaten up at this point. The payoff will be so rewarding. We really can’t wait to share all we’ve learned.

Today, we are going to let a few whiskers of one of our cats out of the bag. 


Let’s meet in New Orleans @ NAFSA 2024! 

Join one of Intead’s two NAFSA presentations: 

We’ll be presenting insights in our two valuable Nafsa sessions: 

  • ChatGPT and AI: What are the real opportunities for enrollment management? 
    Wed., May 29 @ 1 p.m. in NOCC, Room 391
    Featuring Dr. David L. Di Maria, SIO & Associate Vice Provost for International Education at UMBC with Iliana Joaquin, Director, Digital Marketing at Intead  
  • Groundbreaking Data: International Student Employment After Graduation
    Thurs., May 30 @ 11:30 a.m. in NOCC, Room 398-399
    Featuring Dr. Joanna Regulska, Vice Provost and Dean - Global Affairs, UC Davis and Nafsa Board Member with Ben Waxman, CEO at Intead 

Be the first to know!  Pre-register to receive Intead’s 2024 proprietary reports as soon as we publish them. 


We are all seeking to understand the global landscape for international students. Our latest research takes a hard look at the US career options and outcomes – key drivers of international student decision-making. Career outcomes are, after all, a central metric for many international students. Our take: not understanding how your institution plays into the US international employment scene puts you at a recruitment disadvantage. 

So, we partnered with our colleagues at F1 Hire to examine both public and proprietary data sets.  

If you’re not familiar with F1 Hire, its web extension, designed for international students in the US, has become the must-have tool for OPT/CPT/H-1B job seekers. Together we analyzed the US Permanent Labor Certification Program (PERM) and H-1B visa application data tracked by the US Department of Labor between 2018-2023. We will be sharing insights into the career pathway options for international students who entered the US workforce upon completing their degrees at US higher ed institutions as well as those who earned their degrees abroad. We reviewed this data against IIE Open Doors stats and proprietary data owned by F1 Hire. 

What we learned was fascinating.  

By drilling into this employment data, we see many ways institutions can use this information as a recruitment tool to demonstrate their success in helping international students find employment.  

An example: Our analysis of F1 Hire’s collection of 1.5 million job opportunities reveals significant disparities in H-1B opportunities relative to the number of international students by state. 

Here’s a sneak peek that surprised us: We found 6.4 H-1B opportunities in New Mexico per international student studying in state compared to just .34 H-1B opportunities in New York per in-state international student. Hello, New Mexico as a student destination! We simply didn't see that coming.

Our full report, which will be available soon, provides keen perspective on: 

  • International student earning potential 
  • Geographic insights (countries and regions) 
  • Industry insights 
  • India-specific insights 
  • Job search insights 

And of course, we offer our take on what this all means for your international student recruitment efforts. 

Read on to register and be among the first to receive our full report. Below, we also share key takeaways from our research… 

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AIEA 2024 Reflections: Tend to the Roots

 

I’ll be honest with you, the AIEA 2024 conference produced a tremendous number of insights from so many leaders in our field. It has been a challenge reducing, selecting, and summarizing those I think will be most valuable for you. But sharing great ideas is central to why we publish this blog, so today I’m narrowing down a set of seemingly disparate ideas and tying them together, so they are valuable, actionable, and transferrable to you.  

Hey, use the comments below to let me know if I succeeded. 

For the observant, there is SO very much to take back to your desk from these gatherings. And since we had three Intead staff present and presenting at AIEA 2024, we came away with a lot.  


Events you won’t want to miss:

“Shattering Accessibility Limits in Digital Learning,” a Chronicle of Higher Ed-hosted webinar, featuring Gallaudet President Roberta Cordano and ansrsource CEO Rajiv Narayana. Register here. (All registrants will receive the recording even if they cannot attend. ASL interpreters will be present.)

The AIRC Spring Symposium on April 30. This one-day, in-person event in beautiful Niagara, Canada, will explore best practices in developing, managing, assessing, and sustaining the many partnerships that are foundational to international enrollment success. While there, be sure to attend Intead's session all about student recruitment marketing budgets – we've got some great new insights to share. Register today!


Many of the conversations we took part in or led at AIEA 2024 centered around fighting for and justifying internationalization budgets. One important notion (credit to David DiMaria, SIO, UMBC, (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) comes from the Japanese concept of Nemawashi (根回し). The term means “turning or taking care of the roots” and suggests that growth comes from taking good care of the foundation. There’s a lot of truth in this. 

As you seek to initiate a new project or grow something already in place, take time to meet with the many stakeholders individually and understand their points of view and concerns before the power brokers or full committee meets to take a vote on your plans and budget requests. Lay the groundwork so that you know the outcome before that decision point arrives. 

This is just one of the many ideas we’ve been ruminating on since our trip to AIEA. Read on for our selection of key actionable takeaways and our slides on data, AI in enrollment, and entrepreneurship in higher ed. 

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Mind the Gaps: Managing Student Expectations with Reality

Let’s talk about the gaps between your international students’ expectations of studying in the U.S. and their actual experience. You know, the sort of expectations on which retention is built.

Sure, some of the ideas international students have of what it’s like to study in the U.S. are based on factors beyond your control. But a lot of their anticipation is based on promises – literal and otherwise – made by your institution. It’s now up to you to deliver.


We Are Here at NAFSA 2023: Our presentation with SIO Paulo Zagalo-Melo (Western Michigan University) and Reporter Karin Fischer (Chronicle of Higher Ed) is at 9:30am today (Wed. May 31). A reality check with the data that informs our student recruitment decisions. Hope you'll join us. Be in touch to meet with us during the conference. We'd love to share a cup of coffee and talk all things student: info@intead.com.


 

To help you deliver on student expectations, we’ve gathered a few key tips worth evaluating and potentially implementing when recruiting and supporting the international students interested in your campus. Hint: it’s all about meeting international students where they’re at. For more perspective on the importance of maintaining a student-first approach see our recent post.

In the meantime, read on for 5 quick ideas on how your institution can narrow the gap between expectations and the reality your international students experience. Recommendation number 5 is likely the most important if you’ve not already done it.

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900+ Institutions Report on Internationalization

This month the American Council on Education (ACE) released the 5th edition of its signature “Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses” report. Some say it’s the most dynamic edition yet as it lays bare both pre-pandemic and COVID-era trends to reveal our collective internationalization priorities during a particularly precarious time.

But let’s be honest, it has been a precarious time here in the US and globally since 2016 at this point. According to one data point, COVID crashed internationalization (our words, not ACE’s).

Consider this: In 2011, the percentage of respondents who said their institutional internationalization was “very high,” “high,” or “moderate” was 56%, rising to 66% in 2016, 64% during 2016-2020, and 40% in 2020-21.

Clearly travel limitations, from the basic human fear to actual travel cut offs, that COVID brought had a clear and significant impact on student mobility (obvious) and institutional responses. Yet, the international community turmoil brought on by the US and other nations’ broad and deep political upheaval since 2016 has changed the landscape in terms of regional student mobility and study option perspectives as well.

Overall, a very steep decline. But not the full story. And the latest IIE data release helps tell that story. But, one report analysis at a time. There are only so many words we can all digest in one sitting. And our 5 key findings below will set you up for some great conversations with your internal colleagues.


50% off ($400 savings) on Intead Plus Complete membership for all registrants attending our Global Marketing Workshop in San Diego. Deadline for this offer is Friday, Nov 18, 2022.

If you are attending the AIRC or ICEF Conferences - here is a huge plus opportunity. 

The Intead/San Diego State University One-Day Workshop on December 13th will be a hands-on opportunity to learn from an awe-inspiring international student recruitment faculty.

  • A full day of international student recruitment strategy and execution discussion
  • Two luminary keynotes
    • Luncheon on Social Justice with Dr. Jewell Winn and Dr. Adrienne Fusek
    • Dinner on Chinese Student Influencers with Dr. Yingyi Ma and Brad Farnsworth
  • At $350 for the day (inclusive of all meals), this learning opportunity is a steal - basically free when you factor in the 1-year Intead Plus membership.

Come with Questions. Leave with a Plan.


As Dr. Maria Claudia Soler, ACE’s senior research analyst, learning and engagement division (research), and lead author of the report, told University World News in a November 8, 2022, article, “While the pandemic impacted internationalization across the board and many internationalization activities were disrupted, we also observed serendipitous outcomes. For instance, institutions used technology to expand virtual international internships, international student recruitment and course-level collaborations in ways that used to be unthinkable some years ago.”

Nodding? You should be. Even without the data, we know this to be true. It was a wild ride and pretty much every surviving institution learned how to adapt, and quickly. Most are better for it. But that’s a different post.

One question we want to see added to the survey and report next time around: the role of the CFO in all of this. How connected to (and aware of) the internationalization priorities are they? Budget approval is key to internationalization efforts. Presidents, Provosts and SIO are all reliant on a CFO’s leadership and insight.

Today we share 5 key findings from the report that really popped for us. And we offer our take. Read on

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Quick Hit Regional Insights for Student Recruitment

You won’t reach students in China using the same tactics you use to reach students in Brazil. Or Nigeria. Seems obvious to those recruiting students internationally, but you’d be surprised by what some marketers out there are pushing. It takes more than a tweak in ad copy to woo prospects from different countries. It requires a good deal of nuanced cultural insight.

Yes, you have Google Analytics and enrollment data to tell you which sending countries show interest in your institution (you’re using those, right?). But it’s deeper than this, as you well know. That’s why we’ve updated one of our most popular tools: the Country Comparison Cheat Sheet.

This easy-to-read spreadsheet breaks down key stats on the top 16 countries sending students to US institutions. We sourced the latest data from IIE, IBISWorld, InterNations, WorldAtlas, XE, and more to offer insights into each country.

The numbers we share represent data you could gather on your own, but we did the work for you. And we are connecting dots that don’t often get connected - though they should be.

Read on to download this free tool for you and your team.

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AIEA 2022 Takeaways: Where do we go from here?

As I wrote from the MSY airport lounge, #AIEA2022 had just wrapped. At that time, in the previous 24 hours, Russia had launched a military attack on Ukraine, some of our colleagues tested positive for Covid at the AIEA conference, and Boston (my destination) was expecting a foot of snow the next day. Oh, and my Boston flight was unceremoniously canceled with no flights available to get me to Boston for another 3 days. Life as we know it continues with turbulent distress, ambiguity, and elements of normalcy.

With these realities in mind, I offer focused reflections on the ideas that struck me most during the conference and a few ideas on how they might add value to your work. As always, we don’t want to get all esoteric here. It’s about actionable steps for internationalization and diverse student experiences that take us all forward, together, with vision.

Enrollment management is complex. The tools available to help us can be confusing. Read to the end of this post for some very tangible advice from 4 international students who spoke at the conference.

More learning ahead

We hope you will be joining us at NAFSA 2022 in Denver this Spring. We will be sharing 3 forward-thinking presentations and a poster session. We are honored to co-present with colleagues from Benedict College, San Diego State University, Clark University, Northeastern University, CIEE, ICEF, and GNET. More details on those in future posts.

More immediately, read on for reflections and action items from AIEA 2022...

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