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Fresh Insights to Pack for Your Next International Recruitment Trip

May 22, 2018
2 months, 3 weeks ago

(Or what shutting down your laptop has to do with anything.)

The truth is we don't need to leave our chairs. Everything is at our fingertips. We don’t need much to talk to people on the other side of the ocean and invite them over. As an institution with its own international admission centre, you’re no different. Your international activities and PR campaigns are able to morph and become an octopus covering any given country and region from a single laptop. But this article is not about that. It’s about the opposite: when the laptop is not enough.

We always seem to talk about getting international university prospects to come and study at our institutions, to have them make the big effort, to choose us for the next two-plus years. We seldom touch the (other) most important subject: us making the big effort and pushing beyond our comfort zone.

Recruiting internationals comes in different shapes and sizes, and leaving the office is not necessary to get in contact with them. You may very well tick off your workload from campus and exhibit your brand to thousands of high school students searching for the likes of you. All this is brilliant, but it doesn’t really point toward the one front-page element you’re missing out on: real interaction with students.

For this, living out of a suitcase for a while is mandatory.

The benefits of travelling abroad to recruit prospects are primarily related to developing a more substantial relationship with students and school counsellors, and expanding your list of international constituents and networks. But let’s pass the mic to experts of the field. We talked with masters of all things international from universities in Australia, the UK, and Canada and asked for their magic formula to a successful international recruitment trip.

Tim Jardine, Regional Manager at Murdoch University in Australia; Tasha Welch, Director of International Collaboration and Development at Royal Roads University in Canada; and Miao Judge, Regional Manager (Far East) at University of Chichester in the UK, are sharing with us valuable insights on where to go, how to plan, and what to do on an international recruitment trip.

Destination everywhere?

Not really.

  • Go where the UK’s going: “China, Japan, and Southeast Asia countries.”
  • Go where Australia’s going: “The countries I would normally travel to in Africa are Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, and Mauritius. The countries within the Middle East include the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Iran, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.”
  • Go where Canada’s going: “RRU currently actively recruits in India, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Ecuador, the United States, and is exploring Europe, Africa and South America, and greater lengths.”

What’s the criteria?

Adequate care and thought.

  • Choose like the UK: “Existing markets and emerging markets with potentials.”
  • Choose like Australia: “There are several factors we consider when deciding which countries to target. Firstly, whether the market has historically been proactive and motivated for higher education in Australia. Secondly, we look at the demographics of the market and analyse whether the services we are offering would be beneficial to the student. Thirdly, the general economic state of the region or country we are looking to recruit students. Lastly, we would investigate whether there are business partners in market, named “education agents,” which would give us more confidence to target that particular market.”
  • Choose like Canada: “For international student recruitment, Royal Roads University travels to familiar markets or markets that we have been working in in order to maintain a consistent presence each year in each market. Markets are decided upon based on demand, performance, and potential, as well as they are chosen for the diversity that the students will contribute to the classroom.”

When to go: any time?

Set your alarm clock for the right moment.

  • Travel when the UK travels: “Spring, autumn, and January. Summer is no good, as it’s summer holiday in most places.”
  • Travel when Australia travels: “The main recruitment times would be in February/March and again in October/November.”
  • Travel when Canada travels: “Typically the recruitment team is active in markets from September to November and January to April, with breaks in December and over the summer (May-August).”

What to do there?


  • Do it like the UK: “Main activities for me include partnerships negotiations and new business development.”
  • Do it like Australia: “I would do several types of activities while on overseas trips for Murdoch University. This includes attending education exhibitions, meeting with prospective partners (agents), speaking with parents and students, meeting with prospective partners (universities), and holding Murdoch University events.”
  • Do it like Canada: “RRU organises and conducts information sessions for prospects, parents, and education agents; attends student recruitment fairs; and conducts ongoing training with education agent partners.”

How to follow up on success?


  • Measure it like the UK: “Good follow-ups and the actual result.”
  • Measure it like Australia: “It is sometimes difficult to measure the success of an international recruitment trip, as some markets would need more than one trip to start seeing the results. However, as a general rule of thumb, the success would be measured as to whether students have applied and enrolled.”
  • Measure it like Canada: “With ROI based on the number of successful applicants who convert to registered students. RRU also partners with the other higher education institutions in the region to organize and execute missions, whereby we work together to sell the destination from Kindergarten through PhD. This is accomplished by working with the school district, community college, and other universities that offer complimentary programmes.”

If you’re reaching for the moon, remember that you may not find any international students there. In other words, don’t go out booking flights to countries selected on a random search. You should dream up a vigorous strategy that focuses on your institution’s particulars and the outcomes you’re aiming for. Study the countries you’re about to go to, and pay attention to unexplored regions.

If you’re lucky to find and fulfil a need for international higher ed, explore it. It's always a good idea to take a look at your website's analytics to see where the traffic is coming from and discover potential markets. Even if certain countries seem more appealing today, go where nobody went before. And don’t forget your laptop.

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