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The Impact of International Student Recruitment on College Admissions

By Jeff Hilts August 27, 2018

In the last decade, many colleges and universities have increased their efforts in recruiting international students to their campuses.

Why the increased focus?

Most people would think it is simply because of the higher tuitions they get from international students. While it is true that they do get higher tuitions, that is not the only reason for the increased focus.

Colleges and universities pride themselves on the diversity of their student populations. The reason for this is that they know having international students as part of their population brings a diversity of thought, facilitates a greater understanding of other cultures and provides a way for students to learn personally about global issues.

Work and travel immigration opportunity concept. Foreign language studying process. Woman with question mark and icons of international flags above head isolated on gray wall background.In addition, in our article, Top 4 Challenges for Student Recruitment Professionals, we discussed the issue of declining enrollments. Shifting U.S. demographics and lower birth rates have contributed to less domestic students for colleges and universities. So, increasing international student enrollments is a way for them to guarantee financial security.

Add to this the fact that having a higher population of international students increases the school’s global recognition, and you understand why the increased focus is taking place.

But for many colleges, the internal impact is now being felt. That’s because while managing ongoing international student recruitment efforts, they must simultaneously manage their domestic outreach efforts.

So, let’s look at how this impacts college recruitment and admissions.


 Trends in International Student Recruitment

According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), “62% of institutions have increased recruitment efforts to ensure international student enrollment remains healthy with 31% of institutions specifically focusing their efforts on China.”

The IIE also reported, “In 2016/17, for the second consecutive year, U.S. colleges and universities hosted more than one million international students, reaching a record high of 1.08 million. This also marks the eleventh consecutive year of continued expansion of the total number of international students in U.S. higher education.”

However, while the total number of enrolled international students saw an increase, the number of new international students coming in has been decreasing.

Many believe that the main factor contributing to the decrease in international student enrollments for U.S. institutions is the increasing higher education options available to those students.

In other words, the U.S. has lost its monopoly on international students, because an increased number of universities worldwide are competing to attract students that wish to study abroad.

The three countries that the U.S. seems to be competing against most are Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. This makes sense because as a general rule, students flock to English-speaking programs.


How Are Universities Working to Increase International Enrollment?

Casual group of students looking happy and smilingIn their attempts to internationalize, explains ICEF Monitor, universities continue to push studying abroad for their own students.

They also partner with other institutions and are, of course, hustle to draw applicants from other countries. Their strategies for doing so vary, but their goals are similar, explains ICEF.

Those include, and we quote:

  • improving student preparedness for a global era
  • diversifying students, faculty, and staff at the home campus
  • becoming more attractive to prospective students at home and overseas

Today, institutions are putting their money where their mouths are. Almost half now have a dedicated international student recruitment plan in place, while 80 percent have set hard targets regarding the number of students they hope to entice, and 60 percent have zeroed in on their geographic targets.

Tellingly, these are closely aligned with the Asian countries from which students stream. Latin America also presents opportunity to U.S. colleges and universities, as does the South Pacific and Africa.

Specifically, Brazil, Indonesia and Nigeria send much of their student talent to programs abroad, so universities are working to catch their attention as well.


Challenges Posed to Recruitment and Enrollment Officers and Admissions Staff

While these actions are paying off in terms of international student recruitment, the results don’t come free. Colleges report increased spending on travel, technology, recruitment fairs and social media marketing.

It’s not easy to generate that kind of interest, and it doesn’t happen for those who sit around and wait. Only time, money and effort see results.

In addition to greater spending and more time invested, the greater the number of applicants and international students, the greater the logistical challenges that stem from the sheer numbers alone.

Think burdens such as:

  • Tracking increasing numbers of international applicants, who have different requirements than domestic students
  • Dealing with drops in new international student enrollment, of which 45 percent of campuses saw declines in 2017
  • Deciding whether or not to text students about deadlines, as well as other admissions- and non-admissions-related subjects
  • Maximizing use of email and other communications technologies
  • Determining what role parents should play in the admissions and enrollment process
  • Improving communication between decision-making stakeholders

With so much on the line, admissions departments quickly grow overwhelmed. It becomes easier to lose information, make decisions based on too little information, fail to analyze data correctly, pass along inadequate information to recruitment teams – who then can’t make the best decisions regarding their efforts – and more.


Managing the Challenges of International Student Recruitment Today

So, what’s the answer? Software.

Until you automate your recruitment, admissions and enrollment processes, you will continue to struggleinternational student recruitment to juggle all the variables.

Software, on the other hand, will ensure you can:

  • Track applications as soon as they come in
  • Compare and contrast applicants easily
  • Work to grow your international student profile without compromising the standards of your institution
  • Communicate easily between departments and teams
  • Analyze information and pass it to the correct people
  • Make the most informed decisions about whom to accept

… and generally, prioritize excellence and international student recruitment at the same time.

In our recent article, Why Your University Needs Student Recruitment Software, we posed these two questions:

  • How much of the admissions process does your admission staff handle manually?
  • How much time could you save, leaving more time to focus on hitting ambitious recruiting and enrolling goals, if the tedious, repetitive processes could be streamlined by a system created just for your office? 

 The answer to this question for many colleges and universities is typically “A Lot”. Software can definitely help you change this answer. But, it can’t be done with just any software.

With so much on the line and competition increasing, it is important for colleges and universities to use software that will automate all of their recruitment and admissions functions.

The bottom line...Your institution’s future success and financial stability may depend on it.

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Jeff Hilts Jeff Hilts

Jeff Hilts

Jeff is the founder, CEO, and Chief Software Architect of AdmissionPros. Jeff graduated with honors from Western Carolina University with a degree in Computer Science. AdmissionPros believes our success depends on building productive and successful relationships with our clients.

Ready to see how our custom software solutions can grow your numbers? Request a personliazed demonstration today!