It’s common for international students to have only ever heard of a handful of the universities in the country they’re looking to study in. However, the most recognizable institutions are often the most difficult to gain admittance to, have higher fees, and higher demand for places. This makes it infeasible for many international students to get into their first choice, and sparks the process of widening the pool of universities they apply to.
Other universities seek out these high quality students, but can find it difficult to stand out from the crowd and get the attention they deserve. There may be elements that your university possesses that can grab attention, but you need to pull these to the forefront of your marketing copy, and show evidence of them, to help inform prospective international students of what you have to offer.
What international students want to know
In general, there are two main aspects of your university that international students will want to get a good picture of: the quality of education they will receive at your institution, and the overall experience they will have. As easy as it is for universities to make claims about these things, the more evidence you can provide students the better. This may be in the form of content, such as videos showing the university, testimonials of other international students, or awards that have been achieved.
It’s important for prospective applicants to know what to expect in terms of your application process. Simply outlining the steps, documents, and the methods of submitting information helps give international students a roadmap to follow. If you’ve made your application process as easy as possible, then this really is a bonus for potential applicants.
Not only does the process itself need to be clear, but what’s expected of an applicant in terms of abilities. Due to the costs associated with international applications to universities, it’s vital that both the university and the student know as soon as possible of any reasons / barriers that means they simply won’t be admitted. Consider outlining the most common reasons for your application rejections in order to filter your applicants.
Being an international student can come with stress and anxieties that home students don’t have to face. Getting to grips with a new culture, administrative process and language barriers can leave many prospective students unsure of how they’ll cope, and worried it might not be an experience for them. Knowing how they will be supported at a university, and by who, can ease some of these worries during the research phase. The World Education Services (2013) claim that “[international students] are twice as likely to list student services as their most pressing information need”.
Let students know what mental health support you offer, any LGBTQ+ organizations on campus, and what exactly the international office can support with. Things like helping set up a bank account or mobile phone may not seem like something to shout about, but when students know they are getting this level of care and support it will make them feel more comfortable about taking the next step and applying.
Let students know if you also offer any support for returning home after gaining their qualification with you. This may be in the form of career support, or re-adjusting culturally to their home nation.
Many universities have invested into their facilities at a rate that is incomparable to more notorious institutions; not only will academic facilities be state of the art, but newer buildings and spaces for extra-curricular activities such as student organizations and sports. This is encouraging for students to see, and reassures them that the physical environment they will be entering is comfortable.
Nothing is more important in terms of comfort than accommodation. It is another key point of interest for international students. If you guarantee international students on campus or university affiliated accommodation this can be a big plus and another worry off their minds.
Safety can be a concern when experiencing a new culture. Talk to prospective students about the safety features of your university including on campus security, safety in the local area, or any initiatives you run for your students.
Value of a degree
A degree’s worth is often viewed in light of the institution it was awarded by. What is often overlooked, is the value of a degree in itself. A degree in a certain field, regardless of the institution, is sufficient for students to progress in academia or a chosen vocation.
With many international students looking to study abroad for a higher quality education, universities should be talking about the value of their education and qualifications in a broader sense; "Overall, the most cited reason for wanting to pursue higher education in the U.S. is the desire to expand career and life opportunities". (WES, 2014)
The experience of studying abroad adds value to the degree for prospective employers or other institutions. It can show that applicants are independent, driven and outgoing.
Although part of the draw to studying abroad is the new culture, international students still want a diverse campus to become involved in. They want to meet and network with people from all over the world as well as other students like them. Talk to prospective international students in depth about your organizations and student groups that are focused on your international community.
Knowing it will be easy to have social opportunities and make friends will put many international students at ease and reassured that they will have a positive experience away from their studies.
The topic of diversity also includes the LGBTQ+ community, physical abilities, religious affiliations, and showing how you support and celebrate all areas of diversity. It's important that all students can seamlessly integrate on your campus without feeling like a difficulty or a burden.
International students are more likely to want to study a certain pool of subjects abroad, in a specific country or state known for its links to the area of expertise. For example, the most popular subjects for international students studying in the UK (according to thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk) include business and management, accounting and finance, and law. Promoting your facilities, program curriculum and career prospects for these subjects in particular can attract good quality international enrollments who will be looking for good quality faculties to learn from.
If your overall university rank doesn’t reflect these popular subjects specifically, find subject rankings to bring to the forefront that are a more accurate portrayal of your individual schools and subjects. Talk about the type of research coming out of these schools, and some of the experts students will have the opportunity to learn from.
Developing global online partnerships can help universities to quickly reach more international students who are looking for a university in a specific country or city. It can correctly position universities to appeal to a certain demographic depending on how the university is looking to diversify its student population.
Studee's expert student advisors talk directly to prospective international students online and over the phone, nurturing them through to enrollment at their chosen institution. The advisors gain key information on what students concerns are when choosing a university overseas and what it is about our partner universities that attracts them. This insight is great for universities to get a better idea of their strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of prospective students.
Studee doesn't charge any upfront fees for universities to work with us, unlike traditional agencies who may require a marketing budget or attendance at fairs.