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Recruiting Intelligence

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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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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NAFSA Region XI: Slides Available + Useful Takeaways

Here’s a quick tease: has someone with a brilliant marketing mind approached you about using influencer marketing to promote your institution? Let us be perfectly clear: it’s a mistake for academic institutions to do this to their brand.

However, there are ways to steal the critical thunder from this growing advertising trend and make it work for academia. Intead conducted a pilot with Northeastern University and the results are here for you to chew on. Great food for thought.


We’re sharing the slides below, but honestly, slides only go so far. It’s the discussion. So yes, grab the download, but if you really want to learn from us and improve your student recruitment game, dive into our San Diego Workshop coming up in December.

Seats are disappearing quickly and we are limiting participation to ensure everyone has access to our amazing workshop faculty. Questions will be answered. Intense discussions will be had, with insight and data. If you’ve not taken a look at the program and the faculty, learn more here…seriously, take a minute and check this out. Opportunities to learn from these experts don’t come around often.


Today we shout out to our colleagues old and new at the recent 2022 NAFSA Region XI. This kind of regional connection and cross-colleague learning is invaluable. A common theme to our 3 presentations and our poster session this time around was how our information can help you explain the value of your work to the powers that be at your institution. What we can add to your justification for budget and other resources to achieve institutional goals.

Below you will find our 2022 NAFSA Region XI session slides showing off the expertise of our presentation partners, thought leaders all:

  • Kirsten Feddersen, Assistant Vice Chancellor of International Enrollment Management, Northeastern University
  • Kathleen Simenson, Director of Admissions, University of New Hampshire
  • Zongxiang Mei, International Education Coordinator, Central Connecticut State University
  • Sarah Lopolito, Assistant Dean for International Programs, Director of the International Center, Clark University
  • Iliana Joaquin, Digital Marketing Manager, Intead

Read on to build your case for how your institution can succeed in a competitive market.

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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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Some College, No Credential, Open Opportunity

Consider the fact that postsecondary institutions have lost nearly 1.3 million students over the course of the past two years. And last year over 940,000 “Some College, No Credential” students re-enrolled. Do the math.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center issued its latest “Some College, No Credential Student Outcomes” report, and the numbers are as you may expect. Large.

Based on July 2020 headcount, the NSC shows there are now 39 million people who can claim some-college, no-credential (SCNC) status—up 8.6% from 2019. In real-time, though, we are confident those numbers are even higher.

Look, we don’t need to tell you that we just wrapped up the fifth consecutive semester of declining student yield. After all, you’re knee-deep in recruitment expectations right now. And those of us working with the undergrad population, well, we’re down about 1.4 million students since 2020.

We are all feeling that and struggling with how all those predictive models seem to be anything but predictive right now. Weren’t they supposed to help us all hone in on growth? A few assumptions there need to be recalibrated.

But, there’s a story in this latest data that may be more optimistic than the doomsday headlines would suggest. Per various pundits’ predictions, a recovery rise in enrollment is on the horizon along with the demographic shift that points to an overall decline in the number of high school graduates. The SCNC crowd represents a significant opportunity that is so often overlooked as traditional recruitment efforts focus on the fresh out of high school crowd.

For the SCNC segment (a rather large segment that requires further segmentation -- they are not one block with common traits), it’s a matter of finding them and presenting your institution’s distinct opportunities to them. They clearly have different motivators and a different decision-making timelines than high school graduates.

Taking a closer look at the National Student Clearinghouse SCNC report – the third in a series – you’ll find that it quantifies the population growth of this large student subset and identifies levels of opportunity for re-engaging these one-time students. Sound interesting? It should if you’re looking to boost enrollment.

Unlike previous reports, this one tracks:

  • Re-enrollment (students who hold a valid enrollment record)
  • First credential (those earning their first-ever credential during the first academic year of stopping out)
  • Perseverance (indicated by continuous enrollment after re-enrolling in 2019/20).

So, lots of good stuff.

For our key takeaways on SCNC prospects including best-bet recruitment opportunities, read on. And for actionable inspiration on how to woo this important crowd, check out our ebook: Quality. Cost. Convenience.”

What others are saying: This must-read primer will help anyone looking to better position their institution within today’s complex and competitive recruitment landscape. This is your guide to adapting to the new competitive environment.

~ Dr. David DiMaria, Senior International Officer & Associate Vice Provost, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
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New Book Review: The Real World of College

Like you, we spend a lot of time getting into the mindset of students. We need to understand their behavior, their decision making process, by region, by study interest, by age and other demographics.

So, when we read that education luminaries Wendy Fischman and Howard Gardner released a book based on more than 2,000 interviews with higher ed students, alumni, faculty, administrators, parents, trustees, and more, we couldn’t help ourselves. We had to get it.

The book, The Real World of College, What Higher Education Is and What It Can Be, is an analysis of interviews conducted at ten US institutions representative of a range of schools, from the highly selective to the lesser so. For us, the results reveal new insights and confirm long-held beliefs. It’s worth the read for anyone who cares about the student experience, student outcomes, and the long-term viability of our industry.

Reading it through the lens of student recruitment, of course, we’ve gathered key takeaways that can inform the work you’re doing now (recruitment marketing) as well as the longer-term stuff (onboarding, student services, career services, and alumni relations).

Always insight and action-oriented: Below we offer our top 5 takeaways from this great read and importantly, your clear action item for each insight.

Let’s meet in person!

If you’re at NAFSA next week, be in touch. We will absolutely do our best to fit in another meeting while in Denver. You’ll see Ben, Patricia, and Iliana racing from our presentations to a bunch of IEM sessions and all those networking events.

Our 2022 can’t miss sessions:

Read on for our top 5 book review takeaways for your admissions team…

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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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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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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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Competitor Analysis: Quick Insights Available

Every enrollment VP is fighting for students who will add value to their institution. Domestic is heading for the 2025 cliff while international is beginning to rebound from the pandemic travel restrictions. 

What better way to win market share than to tell the story that differentiates your institution? This week, for those of you not already familiar, we introduce you to Jon Boeckenstedt and a tool he’s created that can help you see quickly how your institution stacks up to your competition. Jon’s work consistently brings data insights and knowledge of the field to help institutions make better enrollment management decisions.

On the international side of things, be sure to register for the AIRC conference coming up in December where we will be presenting two valuable learning opportunities alongside colleagues from Northeastern University, Fordham Law School, and San Diego State University. Early bird rates are still on the table! See link below. And see you in Miami!

Read on to dive into the amazingly fast competitor insights you can gather and how you might use them to put the best version of your institution’s story out there. 

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