Higher education landscape

Emerging markets: What countries should you focus on this recruiting season?

How should the post-pandemic travel plan look like for university admission teams across the globe? Here are some trends and insights that will help you decide.

Leslie Birch
September 12, 2022
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3 min

As the world continues on the path to a “new normal”, after what seems like a lifetime of endless Zoom instruction and meetings, in-person visits are helping university teams build stronger relationships with high school counselors. These events offer unique opportunities to get to know potential students on a personal level, and learn about their interests, accomplishments, career aspirations, and preferred destinations.

However, many admissions teams are facing reductions in both staffing and budgets - making it more critical than ever to strategically plan their travel to ensure the best return on investment. 

While we may no longer be in the worst phase of the pandemic, it still continues to impact many areas of university recruiting - from rising travel expenses to changing trends in student mobility. Therefore, it’s essential for admissions professionals to identify the leading places and reach the students most likely to apply to their institutions before solidifying travel destinations or school visits. 

Historically, China and India have been the top senders of undergraduate students to U.S. colleges and universities. According to a 2021 Open Doors report from the Institute of International Education (IIE), China accounted for 34.7 percent of all international students studying in the U.S. followed by India with 18.3 percent. 

However, as we shared in one of our latest reports, India, China, & Elsewhere: Projecting How International Student Mobility Will Evolve, the number of students from China continues to decline for myriad reasons. As universities look to address those declines, they should also be working to identify new global markets for opportunity - another topic addressed in our report. 

Emerging countries recruiters should visit

To ensure diversity and expand opportunities for students across the globe, universities should avoid over reliance on any one country to achieve their international recruitment goals. While China and India still top the list of countries sending undergraduate students to study in the U.S., recent data shows that there are several major untapped regions around the world with qualified students seeking education abroad. 

IIE data from 2021 identifies a few of the countries that are seeing more international students interested in studying in the U.S., including Sub-Saharan Africa, Brazil, The Southern Cone of Latin America (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile), and Southeast Asia. 

During Cialfo’s speaking session at this summer’s International ACAC conference, all admissions leaders on the panel mentioned increased interest in Latin America in addition to Southeast Asia and Africa. Panelist Shawn Felton, Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions with Cornell University, spoke of his institution’s efforts in those countries and the impact of utilizing virtual events for outreach. He said that pre-pandemic, a lot of recruiters were looking at international diversity and aiming to use scholarship funds they may have. So, they were focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa, the Southern Cone, Southeast Asia, and working-class students.

“ One of the silver linings we saw from the pandemic was the expanded reach all of our schools had because of virtual engagement. We started seeing applications from students who weren’t the wealthiest of the wealthy and not from the schools where we often saw international applicants. We began getting applicants from regions and places we hadn’t even heard of.”

Shawn Felton, Executive Director of Undergraduate Admissions, from Cornell University

Leveraging EdTech for hybrid outreach

Digital recruiting platforms such as Cialfo can also play a vital role in helping admissions teams easily identify emerging countries for potential students and map their recruiting strategies accordingly. 

Here are a few ways admissions professionals can utilize Cialfo to ensure they are optimizing their efforts in the right places, whether in-person, virtually, or balancing a mix of hybrid outreach:

  • Look at past year trends to determine the top countries of origin for students submitting applications
  • Utilize Cialfo Higher Education Insights for the latest trends in student mobility and students’ destination country preferences 
  • Reach out to your established network of counselors and school administrators
  • Take advantage of the global Cialfo network - offering numerous ways to connect with counselors and 310,000+ students across more than 105 countries
  • Explore Connections on the Cialfo platform and discover which international schools have expressed interest in having your university host an in-person or virtual visit

Once you’ve identified the schools and countries you’d like to visit, hybrid outreach can help you optimize the time you have during your on-site visits in addition to connecting you with hundreds of students and schools who may not fit into this year’s physical travel agenda.

Cialfo can help streamline your face-to-face scheduling and save time and money by enabling you to host virtual events and share content with counselors and students ahead of an in-person visit. Hosting virtual campus tours, sharing a day in the life of an enrolled international student, and promoting other personalized content beforehand give students a better understanding of your university’s unique offerings. When it comes time for the on-site visit, these students will already be familiar with your institution, which will lead to more authentic conversations and questions. 

As you start to pinpoint which countries are most likely to send qualified students to your university, you’ll be able to easily assess which schools will make the shortlist for in-person visits - maximizing your time, personnel, and budget. A balance of face-to-face and virtual visits to these schools (along with those you can’t physically travel to this season) will help keep students and their counselors engaged throughout the application journey - and keep you top of mind!

Learn more about partnering with Cialfo and the many ways we can help support your data-driven recruitment strategy at https://www.cialfo.co/universities

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