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International Education Recruitment Marketing Communications

From ICEF monitor: “Nearly 200 delegates from around the world attended the fourth annual conference of the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC) last month in Miami. The event featured several workshops covering a broad range of topics on policy, recruitment solutions, and technology. Among these was an insightful seminar on measuring and evaluating both agency and student performance given by Mr Ross Jennings, associate vice president of Green River Community College in Auburn, Washington, USA….

… He also noted two essential elements for institutions and recruitment agencies pursuing these goals: sound processes for measuring results and a commitment to continuous improvement…

.. There are a number of considerations and options for institutions in establishing a framework for evaluating agent performance. As with student performance, there are a number of objectively measurable characteristics that can help assess an individual agency. For example:

  • Number of students referred
  • Yield – number of applications vs. number of enrolments
  • Student feedback
  • Industry accreditation or association membership(s)
  • Return on direct investment….

.. Do you have a formal framework in place for evaluating student or agent performance? If so, add your comments below to tell us what measures you find most valuable and how these have helped to improve either your student services or the efficiency of your recruitment efforts.


Who manages the “marketing” managers? Some related issues are:

1. Focusing upon recruitment or sales ignores the need (often) for a market development process leading to recruitment over e.g. 2-3 years exemplified by AIDA i.e. creating awareness, interest, decision and action.

2. Arbitrary recruitment targets apportioned to agents, which can lead to aggressive promotion and selling, with potential for unethical short cuts by agents and institutional personnel.

3. For agents to conduct marketing effectively they need meaningful feedback from the institution, often not forthcoming, and avoided under the pretext of “commercial in confidence”.

4. Most effective market development and marketing is now digital, but many if not most agent “managers” (in our experience) neither understand nor keen to learn or apply.

5. Too much pressure for short term results and institutions spending their marketing budgets on travel to one off events, versus all year round, measurable digital marketing strategies and on campus student feedback.

The last point leads to many agents complaining that international education “recruitment and marketing” by institutions is about travel than good marketing and recruitment practice e.g. 90% of budgets going to channels providing < 1% of candidates i.e. public education fairs. Further, we are aware of good marketing managers being precluded from effective (digital) marketing as their managers prefer how things are done and/or informed by 1980/90s job descriptions, ‘fly in fly out’ events…..

However, late news is that the Immigration Department in Australia is penalising institutions through the visa system if they don’t have diversity of student population.  The lack of diversity e.g. majority of students from China and India, comes from recruitment methods, i.e. market development centres upon recruitment events with focus upon short term numbers or sales, and pushing agents to be aggressive…… how can an institution ensure they access all international students?  Digital marketing.

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