Interest in recruiting international students is growing among many institutions, for reasons ranging from reputational to financial. However, strategies translating intent into action are often devoid of research and insights. This lack of thorough examination before designing strategies often results in inefficient, expensive, and unsustainable enrollment strategies.
Often, institutions underestimate the importance of research in facilitating the understanding of international student decision-making processes in informing enrollment strategies. The key is to know more about international students throughout their enrollment process—who they are, how they choose institution, and what are their experiences.
Some institutions make the mistake of extrapolating national or regional trends, which may or may not apply in the context of their campuses. In other cases, school allows anecdotal evidence and stereotypical views on international students’ needs and behavior to drive the strategies. Finally, the strategy sometimes boils down to “outsourcing” to a third-party commission-based recruiter.
Expanding international student populations on university campuses while maintaining the goals of cost, quality, and diversity is a complex optimization problem. It requires assessment of institutional goals, priorities, and capacities; investigation of student needs, profiles, and experiences; and, finally, mapping institutional and individual needs through a comprehensive strategy.
In sum, it is important to “zoom-out” to look into big picture megatrends, but then to “zoom-in” as well, to see the applicability and relevance of these trends at the institutional level.
Click here to download my full article “INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ENROLLMENT: EVIDENCE-DRIVEN STRATEGIES” published in Boston College’s International Higher Education.
Rahul Choudaha (author)