Florida has long been one of the US’ most in-demand study abroad destinations. Its tropical climate, fantastic universities, and world-famous attractions have never failed to attract international students. That was until COVID-19 struck.
The outbreak of the global health pandemic sent overseas enrollments plummeting. Worse still, current international students faced travel restrictions, isolation, and even deportation. Such events saw Florida rated the most vulnerable state to overseas student decline in the USA1.
The value of international students
In the pre-pandemic world, Florida ranked as the seventh-most popular state for international students, with over 46,000 overseas pupils choosing to call it home2. However, its popularity on the global stage is a double-edged sword.
Although the Sunshine State basks in the economic benefits of overseas enrolments, it’s also extremely susceptible to fluctuations in the international student market.
The pandemic has only highlighted Florida’s financial dependency on international students. In the 2018-2019 academic year, foreign pupils contributed $1.6 billion to the Floridian economy and held 458,290 jobs in local communities3. Unfortunately, these figures have tumbled within the past year.
What’s more, the average international student pays $16,000 to attend a public university in Florida, while domestic students fork out just $5,0001.
By paying full tuition, foreign pupils subsidize the daily operations of schools and colleges. Without them, universities risk losing huge chunks of their income, with devastating knock-on effects for landlords, shops, restaurants, and more.
How to regain international interest
The importance of foreign pupils to the stability of the Floridan higher-education sector and beyond cannot be overstated. Therefore, universities must do all they can to rebuild their international student numbers.
However, thanks to the pandemic, traditional student engagement and recruitment methods have been thrown out the window. That’s not to say there’s no solution though. Here are our top tips:
- Try online recruitment: Online recruitment fairs, virtual tours, and webinars help you to create an in-person experience from afar. Rapid advances in digital technology make it easy to interact with students from across the globe and share the magic of your institution.
- Support existing students’ concerns: This has been a scary time for many students, especially those who’ve had to quarantine far away from their friends and family. Make sure students have access to financial, accommodation, and mental health support if they need it.
- Implement safety measures: Most students are understandably concerned about attending busy campuses and in-person classes. If you can prove your institution is taking all the necessary precautions to keep students safe, you’ll reassure them and earn their trust.
- Improve your website: Research shows university websites have the biggest influence on international students’ application decisions. It’s where the vast majority of Gen-Z students get their information, so making sure you have a clear layout, useful content, and a great landing page experience is key.
- Work with Studee: We’re experts at helping universities recruit and convert more international students. We speak to hundreds of pupils on a daily basis and match them to your admissions requirements, so you’ll only receive students who are ready to enroll.
We'd love to help you attract and enroll more international students.
Please book a free, non-obligatory meeting and we'll discuss how Studee can maximize your international admissions success. It’ll only take 20 minutes, but it could future-proof your recruitment strategy for years to come.
1Times Higher Education (2020)
3U.S. Department of Commerce (2019)