International Student Recruitment and Enrollment Strategies

In terms of data, hundreds of institutions will say that this year’s graduating class of Chinese international students is the largest that they’ve had in their history. This can be attributed to the wave of students that entered the US in 2014, followed by a 4-year decline, which has everyone re-analyzing their enrollment strategies, teaching techniques and, alas, budgets.

From an admissions perspective, this daunting and terrifying feat is often established by leadership unfamiliar with current market conditions. You’re being asked to increase student headcount with a lower incoming student number from China, while at the same time, you face increased domestic competition and a growing lack of trust from natural parents on their investments.

Let’s talk about re-enrollment and how returning numbers directly influence new student recruitment.

Throughout this article, we’ll address four recommendations to take into consideration during this peak recruitment and retention season. This insight and dialogue will hopefully assist in shifting paradigms within your school admissions strategy. For even more international student recruitment strategies, read our blog about tuition freezes, tuition caps, and student incentives.

1. School vs. Student Decisions

Remember, students don’t have to accept your re-enrollment offer.

Create two separate goals and key performance indicators with your head of school, analyzing data in a more granular aspect based on the total re-enrollment population.

  1. 96.5% school offers re-enrollment
  2. 86% of student decisions by grade level

2. Maximize Conditional Offers

Whether for new or re-enrolling students, conditional acceptance is an additional requirement to be met by the student, and that is outlined in the unique enrollment contract. In doing so, it offers flexibility for applicants that may be strong in certain areas in weak in others.

Below are some typical conditions to help you reach as close to 100% acceptance offers.

  • Enroll in Cambridge Network tutoring service for subject-specific help.
  • Require a certain GPA by the end of the first semester next academic year.
  • If language proficiency issues are a concern…
    • Offer to hold the student back one year and repeat a grade level to focus on the academic language skill set.
    • Require a completion certificate from a trusted English Intensive Summer Program.

If you’re a Cambridge Network member school, consult your Program Manager or Student Support Associate for strategies or approaches.

3. Understand Price Transparency

Although more related to new student enrollment, it’s essential to upsell your school value to build trust with natural parents further and ensure their money is well spent.

The market has become intensely competitive and murky, with student commissions, often exceeding $10,000 per student. With school tuition increases and then the rise of agency fees, the trust of the US market in the eyes of Chinese natural parents is diminishing. Besides, for similar quality education and lower price, they can send their child to Canada or Australia.

In a study released March 2017 by Royall & Co., the enrollment management consulting arm of EAB, say they have “confirmed what enrollment leaders have suspected since the Great Recession of 2008-10: Cost is the leading determinant in students’ college [education] choice. It turns out that concern about cost is the number one reason why students forgo their top-pick schools.” Furthermore, after analyzing data from 54,810 students who were admitted to their client institutions this past fall, they found that 11 percent—over 6,000 students—said “no” to their first-choice institution, and 40% of those who declined their dream school cited price-related concerns as the reason.

In short, this topic is very new to the secondary education industry, but one that should not be taken lightly. Institutions need to be aware that it’s an open market, and at that, one that’s maturing quickly. Your school isn’t only competing with the academy in the nearby city anymore, and US education is competing with Canadian and Australian education at a macroeconomic level, with the price being a leading indicator.

4. Boast about upgraded Student Services

Let the student and their family know about how your program prioritizes international student guidance, and natural parents care about how your school advocates explicitly for their child. Let know about your specific student service programs as well as the added support Cambridge students receive through our Happy Student Initiative. Natural parents should feel at ease knowing students not only the benefit from school-based programs to aid their integration and acculturation but also their local Cambridge Network Student Development Manager and our Cambridge UP online course!

Check out our blog section to learn about industry trends, international program best practices, ways to engage students, and more.

For schools looking for more information on Cambridge Network and our services, please submit an inquiry form.