International Student Recruitment Trends and Challenges

International student recruitment is becoming increasingly challenging not only for higher education institutions but also for students.
international student recruitment challenges and trends

Higher education around the world is now being challenged when it comes to international student recruitment. We believe Covid-19 had a great role to play in the shifts in student admissions and academia across the globe. The pandemic put a halt to traditional practices of student hiring. Basically, the students now wish to interact with the institute on their terms. They prefer online means of approaching their dream college or university. In fact, an online application system, orientation or even education is far more preferred than moving abroad.

Simply put, international students shy away from travelling to far-off locations. It is more convenient for them to submit their admission applications online. Moreover, students now demand quick access to information or university resource centre. We cannot entirely blame students for this attitude, as the pandemic disrupted the education and admission processes all across the globe. Thankfully, it convinced educational institutions to bring online application systems into practice.

The Current International Student Recruitment Landscape

Only recently, we have observed a hybrid model for international student recruitment and marketing. Students learn about the admission openings over the internet and take quick action to apply for their desired programs. How do you think the shift happened over recent years? According to a report released by CISCO, higher education institutions are faced with lower student applications, turnout, engagement or course attendance. This happens as a result of following mundane practices that no longer benefit anyone. For instance, if students do not have access to an online admissions portal, chances are they may never think about applying for higher education overseas. 

So, without a doubt, international student recruitment is faced with many challenges today, and only the current student recruitment trends can help overcome them. Let us discuss the challenges faced by higher education in international student recruitment. 

International Student Recruitment Challenges

International student recruitment is becoming increasingly challenging not only for higher education institutions but also for students. Many factors come in the way of seamless student recruitment. Although, the project atlas has revealed a steady increase in overall international student recruitment around the world. More and more students wish to study abroad at reputed colleges and universities. Yet, there’s growing concern about the hurdles and challenges students face when planning for international study. It may be economic or political changes that highly impact students’ academic decisions. While the competitive higher education market continues to create obstacles for recruiters and students. 

Recently, we have observed a rise in the global international student market. New opportunities are available for diverse international students in the UK, China, the US and Australia. In addition, more universities are aiming to diversify sustainable international student recruitment. Shortly after the pandemic dread, educational institutions opened doors to the international student market. However, they now have a lot to deal with to overcome the current challenges. 

1- Generating Leads of Prospective Students 

Today, the internet has given prospective students the autonomy to look for their best-matched institution, study program, faculty, and campus. Students easily sift through online lists of reputed universities and apply without a second thought. As of now, the ball exists in the student’s court. Also, the availability of scholarships for international students narrows the application count received from overseas. Therefore, educational institutions now find it hard to gain the attention of prospective global students for the programs they offer. Here’s a list of reasons why it is difficult to generate leads of prospective international students. 

  • Physical restraints of travelling 
  • Failure to spread the message across using physical means 
  • Economic crises around the world 
  • Unavailability of internet and other resources for students from underdeveloped countries
  • Unbearing costs of international student recruitment events 
  • Poor turnout of students at on-site international recruitment fairs 

2- Fierce Competition in Global Education Market

Universities around the world are racing to score the maximum number of international students each year. It is important to remember here that it is not only the top world institutes that welcome overseas students. In fact, the majority of countries now offer exciting and affordable student graduate, postgraduate and doctorate programs. For instance, Germany, Australia, Turkey, Netherlands, and Sweden are now ranked high among educational institutions offering a chance for international students to study at their renowned educational institutions. Although, the number of students applying for international studies is rising each day. Yet, the competition among educational institutions is fierce.

In addition, digitization has enabled smaller institutions to enter the competition, breaking all barriers. This, however, is a plus for students who may be looking for an affordable degree program. Students now have a vast choice when it comes to hunting for the best institute for international studies. 

3- Worldwide Economic and Inflation Crisis

Over the last few years, the world economy has greatly impacted the educational sector. Basically, a country’s political and economic situation determines its credibility for international students. Students wishing to move to an academic destination that is economically sound. Moreover, the inflation crisis affected the rate of hosting international student fairs and events. As a result, most universities are facing problems while hosting open days or recruiting international students. Similarly, international students have trouble coming to campus to attend such events. Therefore, it is time for educational institutions to rethink their practices in the wake of hosting educational events and delivering their academic programs. 

Let’s face it, the cost of travelling internationally in times of inflation is only feasible for first or second-world countries. For that matter, the online education system is appreciated around the world. This overall has challenged international student recruitment. 

4- Exceeding Budget for International Recruitment

How much do universities spend on recruiting international students? As per the 2020 RNL report on the cost of recruiting an international student, the cost of a single international recruit is around $585 for the private sector and $125 for the public sector. Although the budget is exceeding with each passing day. So when it comes to international student recruitment marketing, educational institutions require a handsome budget. For that, your educational institution should invest more in the international budget than local student recruitment.

The budget investment areas for international student recruitment are; 

  • Digital advertising
  • Website content
  • Campus events
  • Social media 
  • Virtual tours
  • Student communications

Therefore, post-pandemic, global educational institutions have opted for digital means for student hunting, recruiting and onboarding. This shall help save on the overall costs of international recruitment, encouraging more and more students to apply online. 

5- Financial Constraints for International Students

What are the challenges faced by international students? Today, international students face many financial constraints when applying for programs overseas. Moving abroad is costly, and academic fees are increasing each day. This may be a reason most universities struggle to recruit a good number of international students. As it seems the majority of the students look for cheaper deals or scholarships. Digital means have revealed that “financial aid, “Fulbright scholarships”, or “fee waiver” are the terms being most searched by international students. So, there’s a great challenge of financial means when it comes to international student recruitment.

International Student Recruitment Trends 

The trends in international student recruitment are changing at a fast pace. There’s no denying that the recent pandemic has played a major role in changing the landscape of international student recruitment. For instance, it not only gave rise to an online zoom education system but also encouraged educational events to go virtual. People preferred attending international student recruitment events, fairs, open days, conferences or career fairs online. It was a far safer solution in the pandemic-stricken world. Also, it minimized distances and saved people a lot of their expenses that otherwise go into travelling, accommodation, or venue rentals. Overall, the shift massively benefitted the global educational sector, be it universities, colleges, or schools. These shifts have truly helped overcome all the challenges and hurdles that come in the way of international student recruitment. 

Although the educational institutions had to make many adjustments to keep up with the current trends. Here’s a list of the most prevalent and proven post-pandemic international student recruitment trends. 

1- Digital Marketing for International Student Hunt 

Throughout the pandemic, global institutions pivoted to digital platforms while hunting for the right students. They aimed at reaching students where they are most active and available. Let’s face it; prospective students are no longer looking at the newspaper for admission ads. International students are more likely to look online for graduate and postgraduate admissions. Therefore, your institution’s online presence is most appreciated. Students would simply go over to the institute’s website or social media channels. Here, developing a strong university brand would help you win the trust of your prospective students. Also, it shall help you secure volume hiring for your institute. 

When it comes to international student recruitment marketing, take as many initiatives as possible. There’s no harm in going over the board when attracting the target market. For instance, you can reach prospective students through social media or simply slide into their emails. We understand that studying abroad is a complex decision for international students. Therefore, you must make a great first impression on your students. But first, define your global marketing objectives, such as; target countries, recruitment event type, or the number of admission applications. Now here’s how you can win at your digital marketing efforts for the international student hunt. 

  • Give a complete tour of your campus
  • Brief students about the university facilities, faculty and programs
  • Be open about the student financial aid or scholarship programs 
  • Share the institute’s yearly success stories to convince applicants 
  • Get alumni to speak about your institute and campus culture 
  • Run social media ads to reach prospective students at the far ends of the world 
  • Use digital platforms to display ads about your international recruitment drive
  • Host virtual university open days, career fairs or graduate recruitment drive
  • Create an exciting virtual open-day landing page 

But this is only possible with the right support from a virtual events platform. Check out the tips for choosing the right virtual career fair vendor

2- Virtual University Open Days for Student Recruitment

Previously, campus open days worked well for attracting local admission applicants. It, however, failed to grab the attention of prospective international students. Be it remote learning or campus degree programs, educational institutions need to go virtual to globalize their brand. In other words, university and college recruiters should host virtual university open days, career fairs or student recruitment drives. This shall put your educational institution on the map. Students now easily access a complete guide on applying for graduate, postgraduate or doctoral programs. So whoever wishes to study aboard can access the virtual recruitment event via the internet.

Virtual open days help deliver a memorable experience for students and parents. The event comprises a detailed 360-degree campus tour, a display of university resources, live engagement opportunities, roundtable discussions, interactive webinars, social walls, and much more. So basically, an extensive virtual international student recruitment event is hosted under the same budget, which is affordable for any educational institution. So, if you are a student recruiter aiming to tap admission applications at the international level, then here’s how you can hunt the right applicants. 

  • Virtual Open Day: Attracts international students from around the globe 
  • University Open Day: Introduces university programs and culture to international students
  • Virtual Career Fair: Efficient recruitment process for global graduates or undergraduate students
  • Virtual Recruitment Drive: Secures seasonal academic program admissions for international students
  • Virtual Education Fair: Connects students with schools from around the world  

Check out seven reasons why universities should host virtual open days.

3- Accessible Online Admission & Application System

Just like that, digital recruitment strategies have given rise to an accessible and seamless online admission application process. From the moment students step into the virtual open day, they have direct access to the available program options. A virtual university representative makes sure the students are well-guided towards pursuing their desired careers. Here, a quick application system is devised for prospective students. Multiple exhibitor booths are installed around the virtual venue for students and guardians to go over and apply at their desired departments. All thanks to digital data and analytics system that thoroughly supports recruiters and students throughout the application process.

Still, wondering how universities recruit international students? Virtual platforms facilitate universities and students alike for a seamless student recruitment process. Here’s how an online open day works for international students and recruiters:

  • Departmental prospectus for each program are readily available 
  • The application process is seamless for anyone and everyone
  • 1:1 chat sessions scheduled with faculty or school administrators
  • Downloadable resource materials available, e.g. brochures or campus video
  • Roundtable discussions to assist students in the application process
  • Matchmaking tools to assist students in finding the suitable career options

Final Thoughts

If you are an event organizer or a student recruiter, we have got you covered for your international student recruitment drive. From recruitment marketing to student hiring and onboarding, Virtual Days offer a sustainable, affordable and seamless student hiring experience. So save millions of dollars on international student recruitment and easily set up a virtual open day with us. We at Virtual Days offer end-to-end support, features, tech and tools to create a successful and memorable virtual event for you. So get a demo today and explore our platform features. It is time to move from in-person to digital to create an engaging and productive virtual experience for prospective global students. 

Author | Mubashrah Rahim



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