6 Questions to test your Student Recruitment Strategy

We’ve all met the idea that “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”  Of course, this only works when things are stable.  However, when faced with market changes, we often find ourselves needing to do something different.

Is market intelligence driving your international strategy?  Or, do you simply use market intelligence to justify the strategy you already have?  Sometimes, it can be hard to tell the difference.

Faced with market change, we may end up simply making small adjustments.  This is not always enough.  To dominate market trends, we should use our market knowledge to press for a strategy that accepts how the market really is.

The market for international students is a market full of change.  Its volatile, fragmented nature brings opportunities, as well as threats.  But these require constant adjustment and sometimes bold action.

Here are six questions to help you ensure that market intelligence is driving your international student recruitment strategy.

  1. Does my organisation listen to feedback I share from the market place?
    • How clear is your view to the top of your institution?
    • Do you have the opportunities (meetings/reviews/online groups etc) to present market trends?
    • How vividly are you able to convey that the next five years will not be like the last?
  2. Have I reflected on what current market trends mean for me?
    • What will be the impact of current market conditions on the range of nationalities I will be able to attract? What are realistic targets?
    • Does my “product” fit the future market? What could be done to make it fit better?
    • Do I know who my competitors really are, and what makes them more attractive (and me less attractive)? Bear in mind that ‘competitors’ include alternative ways of learning, not just alternative places to learn.
  3. What am I telling the marketplace?
    • Is my message flexible enough to meet the current needs of different markets (online, in print, at events, etc.)?
    • Is this message based on what markets nowadays want to hear about, rather than on what we insist on telling them?
    • Do my team/materials/events/agents reflect this tailored approach well enough?
  4. Do I have sufficient partnerships in place?
    • Do we have sound relationships with institutional partners, agent partners, industry partners?
    • How have we engaged these partners to offer meaningful opportunities to students?
    • Am I proactive in sustaining, enhancing and developing these relationships?
  5. Am I effectively managing risk?
    • Am I fully aware of legal, financial, immigration risks that might arise when looking at new markets?
    • Do I have robust checks in place to protect against fraud?
    • Am I sure that we are taking students who will be successful, rather than students who represent nationalities we want to attract?
  6. Am I maximising the impact of my institution’s services?
    • Do I have support courses in place to both attract and reassure new international students (such as pre-decision introductory courses, pre-sessional training courses, or on-going support with technical language requirements)?
    • Are staff committed to making international students’ experiences both high-quality and memorable, and do our internal processes support this?
    • Are we focused enough on the employability of our graduates? Do our skills and career development opportunities deliver long-term results?

When questions can be answered with an unequivocal “yes”, we put ourselves in a position to make the most of our strengths in the light of the changing international environment.