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How to Recruit International Students

 There are many marketing strategies to recruit international students, which both schools and international education agents can apply. One important thing to keep in mind is that what works for agents will most likely not work for direct clients.

Let’s take a look at what works in B2B and B2C marketing.

But first... 


Why do students study abroad?


International students have a variety of reasons for studying abroad such as wanting a different lifestyle, promises they made to their family or getting an even better education.

  • Most students, especially in countries where the English language is not so commonly used, want to become more fluent speaking English, considering how much this will help them in their professional life
  • Students might seek to study abroad to get a job they dream about
  • Others want to pursue an advanced degree or
  • Simply to get the opportunity to live in another country
  • Some international students even dream of making a difference in the world through their education.



What International Students Want


what foreign students want

Attracting international students means understanding and fulfilling the emotional aspects of their decision-making process.

Unlike the agent, a student wants to feel safe, excited and happy when they finally make the decision to come to your school. Whether you’re an agent or a school, the same concept applies. 

International student recruitment is all about asking yourself these questions:

 - “What would I want to know if I was traveling to a new country that speaks a foreign language?”

 - “What would show me that I will have support once I arrive at the school?”

 - “What will make me choose one school over another?”

The questions may be complex but the answer is’s all about attention to detail.



Types of International Student Recruitment


Education Travel

Many students from around the world nowadays take a semester or a year off from their school and daily life in order to travel to another country to experience education there, or to meet new people, or learn about new cultures and maybe even find a temporary job.

It is no longer enough for youths to do a college or university degree - they want an educational experience. For this reason, recruiting college students and recruiting high school students has become a target for several higher education providers.


Recruiting for College

Education providers might also decide that recruiting for college is the way to go. The kind of strategy to be adopted in such cases definitely depends on the country where education is being provided because as we all know, different countries have different education systems.

As means of example, when an education provider in the US is recruiting high school students for college they need to take into consideration aspects such as the validity of the students’ current education certificates as well as logistical aspects such as VISAs.


Key points when marketing to attract students internationally


Make Good Communication Possible

good communication with foreign studentsFirst and foremost, you need to make sure that when marketing to international students the message is simple and clear. If they do not understand the process or why they should work with you – they won’t choose your organization.

Furthermore, you can offer multiple channels of communication over and above the standard phone and email. Different people use different methods of communication and the easier you make it for them to get in touch with you, the more they will.

This could also mean that members of staff in your business speak different languages so the communication process is smoother. Ideally, your website would also be translated into different languages. Remember that in order to persuade people to work with your organization, it is important to speak their language as much as possible.


Show Your Strengths - But Manage Student Expectations

manage expectationsSecondly, you need to give a clear understanding of what the student should expect. Don’t oversell.

You can highlight positive experiences by posting testimonials given by past students who were in the same boat not so long ago, and whose experience turned into a positive one. Blog posts that were written by past students, realistic pictures taken during classes and excursions, and opportunities to join groups on social channels where past students can share their experiences.

By doing this you are demonstrating 2 things:

a) that there will not be any unpleasant surprises when the student lands and

b) that you do your best to be helpful and professional even before they have paid or confirmed their booking.


Prove Yourself Proficient

prove your organisation is proficientLast but not least, in both aspects of this industry, it’s important to always show that you are able to answer any questions that may come up and that there is no ambiguity in what you are saying. It is understandable that both international agencies, as well as students, will have a lot of questions to ask, so the more information you have prepared for them in advance, and the more updated your information is, the easier it will be to answer questions.

 Just like any other customer handling job, you need to truly understand the perspective of the other party so you’ll be able to put yourself in their shoes and handle the matter accordingly.


How to Get Help Recruiting Students


get help recruiting international students

It is not uncommon for education providers to visit college recruiting sites or other websites and directories in order to explore new ways to recruit international students to their respective schools, college or higher education institutes. 

This can take place in various forms. It could be a language school that chooses to focus on college and high school students in order to help them improve the language of the country where they choose to study, or possibly even prepare for an entrance exam.

These are known as pathway programs and they are becoming ever so common in the educational travel industry.

No matter what shape or form it takes, student recruitment can be a tricky business and it is always advisable to be fully aware of what options available on the market before making a final decision.


The Good News

The good news is that nowadays since the education travel industry has thrived so much, there are organizations who are entirely focused on helping out schools with these processes. It is always recommended that schools do their research well before deciding to go in the direction of foreign student recruitment.

Once that is done, it is simply a question of welcoming the new students into their new school and enjoying all the benefits that multiculturalism brings along with it.


The School-Agent relationship


Be it in the higher education market or any other field within the educational travel industry, schools have often come to us seeking advice on how to deal with agencies operating in the education industry. From experience, education agencies still play a very important role in our field, recruiting a significant number of international students, and without their help, many schools very often do not survive

Such relationships should be cared for and nurtured, and the best way to do this is for both parties to communicate as often and as honestly as possible.

The basis of every solid partnership is trust, and the same goes for any agency and service provider within the education industry.

Here are 2 key points that are important to consider if you are a school working with education agents.



quality is key in education marketingThe first point to discuss, and which is certainly a determining factor in this relationship, is the education agent commission rate. We often speak to schools who believe that agents will only work with those education providers who offer them the highest commission rates.

However, when we talk to agents - and by this, we mean the serious agents - we discover that lasting partnerships within the education market go beyond commissions and percentages.

By no means are we saying that this is not important, however, apart from how much they will be making, agents also need to know that the schools they are working with offer high standards in terms of courses, accommodation options as well as the student activities that they offer.



Another interesting point to look at is that of education agent fees. This point is normally discussed at the beginning of every partnership between a school and an agent and this normally revolves around the idea of who is going to pay for what’ in terms of marketing material, printing of brochures etc.

Here we will once again highlight the importance of communication. Just because something was agreed between both parties at the start of the relationship, does not mean that things have to remain the same forever.

In conclusion, when education providers are looking for education agents it is important that they are aware of these points so that nothing comes as a surprise during the initial stages of the conversation.


What You Should Do


1. Help the Agent See Your Value

help agents see your valueBeing the middle person between the school and the student, the agent needs to, first and foremost, understand how your school operates.

There is little or no emotion when the agent is making a decision on whether to work with a school or otherwise.

Despite this, we are definitely not saying that the agent does not care; the most important thing for the international student agency is to logically see how the school operates in order to be able to answer the questions which students come up with.

Therefore, to sum up, an agent’s decision is more rational rather than emotional.


2. Get Agents to Visit the School

We advise our schools and student agencies alike to visit the school so that the agency representatives see for themselves what kind of services the school is offering.

Whenever an agent has a student at their desk who is asking for recommendations, it is normal human nature that the agent will remember that school he or she visited and which offered a great experience first.

It is also normal human nature that the agent will be able to sell this school better because they have seen it and experienced it first-hand.


3. Make it Easy for the Agent to Work with You

Since the group of people/businesses you are marketing to tend to be information seekers, you need to make sure that your marketing material includes useful, in-depth details.

make your school-agent relationship easy

At the same time, the less complicated your operations, contracts, and agreements are, the more likely it is for an agent to want to work with you.

Also, you need to ensure that the Return On Investment for the agent, makes up for the time that the agent has taken to close a good deal on your behalf.

We are not just talking about money and high commission rates, even though these are important too. We are talking about some random acts of kindness which are very often forgotten.



4. Random Acts of Kindness

be kindWhat do we mean by random acts of kindness?

These can be anything from free lessons for the agent him/herself to offers which the agent can use to promote your school, to a simple greeting on a birthday or special occasion.

The gist of all of this is that it is highly important to work on maintaining the relationship that you have built with an agent as it is very easy to lose them to competition. 


 What You Should Avoid


How many students will you send me?”