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Recruiting Intelligence

Armchair International Student Recruitment

You are reading an excerpt from our e-book "88 Ways to Recruit International Students". 

II. Armchair recruiting

Don’t underestimate what you can accomplish from your office in Dubuque, Syracuse or South Bend.  Even if you are chained to your desk, figuratively we hope, you can pursue numerous recruitment strategies with potentially great payoff.  If your institution is just beginning to explore international recruitment, many of these methods can help you wet your feet in the international sector.  Or if your institution has already made inroads in some markets, these methods can help to cultivate additional regions. Let’s begin.


1. Website  (see also Technology section)

This seems like a given, right?  Of course you need a website.  You may even wonder how we could have included something so obvious in our list.  But, how much time have you spent on your university’s website lately?  Is it accessible to students?  Is it easy to navigate?  Does your website feature dense text or exciting photos?  Does it feature YouTube videos and links to Facebook and Twitter?  Is it appealing and accessible to an international audience?

In order for your website to be used to its fullest potential, you must first make sure that it can be easily accessed by your target audience – international students, their parents and their teachers and counselors.  Keep in mind that YouTube is blocked in China.  Any fancy YouTube videos that appear on your site will not be accessible to your Chinese market.

It also helps to include website sections in your prospective students’ native languages.  Certainly students you recruit should have an understanding of written English.  However, their parents are often the decision makers (they are, after all, footing the bill), so including sections in Mandarin, for instance, will go a long way toward building a relationship with this constituency.

Parents around the world want to be proud of their children’s accomplishments.  As university marketers, we need to give these parents information and data points they can and want to relay to friends and family about their children’s education choice abroad.  The Ivy’s brand takes care of the “bragging rights.”  Everybody else needs to work harder.

2. Email

What can we say?  Email is a critical factor even if we all suffer from email overload.  Email open rates have declined and students have shifted to alternative communication channels.  Yet email remains a cost-effective channel for reaching prospective students. 

Outside of India, the United Kingdom and Australia, you will encounter a language challenge in your use of emails.  To address the Chinese market, adjust your email template by removing Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, or at least by adding a Chinese connection.  We suggest adding QQ, a tool that combines micro blogging, Twitter and Skype.  Chinese students use QQ to communicate with each other and with potential university choices. 

Our Intead Plus subscribers have access to our compendium of international student recruiting approaches: 88 Ways to Recruit International Students.  Learn more here:

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3. Timely and personalized responses to emails

Showing up counts.  International students studying in the US repeatedly cited admission counselor and faculty responsiveness as the basis of their school selection.  Our research makes this point clear.  International students are making a decision to travel halfway across the world, typically sight unseen, to an institution of higher education.  Given international student unfamiliarity with the campus, faculty, and location, institutions that promptly and personally interact with these students have a great advantage.

Student testimonials about their school selection further support the importance of this factor.  When students have been admitted to more than one university of similar quality or ranking, the majority of students choose to matriculate at the institution that has been the most personal and responsive to their emails to faculty or admission offices.

While this may seem overwhelming to the overworked admission counselor or professor, a little goes a long way.  If an international student takes the time to send an email, a prompt response reaps significant rewards. 

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