Impact of COVID-19 on International Student Market
Schools and international student programs are preparing for students returning to campuses this fall in what many hoped would kick-start the first normal and mostly in-person academic year since the start of the pandemic. International student recruitment has been impacted negatively by the COVID-19 pandemic and many schools are still feeling the effects of shrinking enrollment numbers almost a year and half later.
International student programs and their partnering agencies have seen the need to update their strategic planning, expand their recruitment efforts in areas of decline, and focusing on diversifying their student populations more effectively. While many schools have seen a drop in student recruitment from traditional markets such as China, the fundamental features of high education in China that funnel international students to the U.S. has not changed. The U.S. remains a top destination for students from China and major international markets. Experts in education and international policy are optimistic that the industry can rebound from the past year of COVID-19.
Increase Your International Student Recruitment
As the market for students from abroad gets more competitive, schools need to approach international recruitment with a holistic approach to stand out over the field and position their programs strategically for prospective families. Below you can find our toolkit for international student programs to increase their student recruitment and help organize their international admissions plan for the upcoming year:
- Identify problem areas of your student recruitment plan
- Position your school’s brand in relation to your competition
- Expand your international student recruitment efforts in new markets
- Hit your student enrollment and admissions targets
Prospective international students have more choices than ever in their school enrollment decisions. As a result, schools need to approach international recruitment with a holistic approach to stand out over the field; no longer can marketing costs be passed onto students in this competitive industry.
Cambridge Enhanced Marketing for international student programs provides an integrated marketing solution, a strategic approach to integrating communications, and interactive experiences targeting a defined global audience.
Knowing which countries to target as part of your international student recruitment efforts can be one of the biggest hurdles encountered by study abroad programs. One specific region that international student programs have increasingly targeted is Latin America. Schools looking to boost their international student numbers have begun to recruit more in countries such as Brazil and Mexico.
When all student recruitment events in China shifted online this year, international student programs and agencies relied heavily on their digital promotion streams. Virtual student events are particularly challenging to organize because of the vast time differences between China and major study destinations. Learn how can your school better utilize digital channels to recruit students in China?
The schools and admissions teams at the secondary education level will need to adjust their plans for student recruitment to remain competitive throughout a year filled with uncertainties and a declining market. We recommend that every school and international student program review and revamp their student recruitment strategy in emerging and ancillary markets such as South Korea and Vietnam. While China remains the top sender of international students studying abroad in the US, South Korea, and Vietnam are two of the top five markets for international students.
The upcoming admissions season is going to require international student programs to plan and remain flexible with their recruitment strategies. Schools and study abroad programs must continue to establish trust and communication with their prospective students to meet the challenges of the upcoming recruitment seasons. From a marketing and communications perspective, international student programs should focus on price, process, and people as the three main standards.
In response to COVID-19, international student programs need to update their recruitment strategies for the upcoming school year. Outlined below are four essential steps recommended for schools to add to their immediate “to-do list” in preparation for upcoming student recruitment efforts.
Does your school board allow your admissions team to offer sales or applicant incentives? Approximately 90% of school boards establish the following year’s tuition sometime between December and February of each year. But for those on an international admissions cycle, this timeline is too late into the recruitment season and frustrates international clientele.
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.