World Education Services has published a survey report “Navigating a New Paradigm for International Student Recruitment”. The purpose of the survey was to gather evidence-based insights in order to better understand how the shifts in the recruitment domain since the election of Donald Trump are affecting the recruitment of international students at U.S. institutions. The WES research team surveyed more than 270 higher education professionals in January and February 2018.
The report confirms the overall downward trend, but also shows that some institutions (28%) still manage to keep the numbers up and growing. The most cited negative factors are ´hostile climate’ (71%), study visa issues (60%), and post-graduation work visa concerns (52%). Besides the clearly more hostile climate to international students, American universities also need to face increased competition while their high and rising tuition fees and general costs of study aren´t helping them.
Remarkably, two responses to the downward trend stand out as slightly less than logical:
- Shift of recruitment resources to cheaper, but not necessarily more effective channels (i.e. social media and domestic travel rather than international)
- Focus on Latin America and the Caribbean, although the prospect to attract self-paying students from that region are low.
The report ends with a number of recommendations, which may also be useful in another context than the USA of Donald Trump. Among these are a diverse recruitment strategy, a welcoming environment and support resources for international students, the involvement of alumni and addressing financial concerns – also when you can’t actually give money.