Higher education landscape

What’s keeping university recruiting teams up at night: Part 1

Cialfo CEO Rohan Pasari travelled across the US with other Cialfolks to listen to higher ed professionals and learn more about their most pressing challenges.

Leslie Birch
July 1, 2022
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3 minutes

Now that the pandemic has entered a new phase, countries are eliminating travel restrictions, and the phrase “road trip” seems to be popping up daily in the news, social media, and everywhere you turn. Cialfo’s CEO Rohan Pasari and other Cialfo team members recently took a very important road trip of their own, traveling from coast to coast across the United States. 

While this venture did include bits of sightseeing (including the dazzling cherry blossoms in full bloom in Washington, DC), the primary purpose of this trip was more work than pleasure. Between March 14 and April 8, 2022, the team crisscrossed the country meeting with heads of enrollment and admissions professionals from 15 higher ed institutions to “listen and learn” about the most pressing challenges impacting international recruiting efforts now and into the future.  

The pandemic and its aftermath

Many of these issues have worsened over the course of the pandemic and the resulting “great resignation.” During the course of our discussions, we learned what a significant toll the pandemic and subsequent loss of staff resources have taken on recruitment teams from public and private universities of all sizes. One factor (in addition to budget cuts) that contributed to early exits among recruitment professionals was the drastic change in the nature of the job due to pandemic shutdowns. Some of the draws to the international recruiting industry included global travel, meeting face-to-face with students and their families, and the chance to experience new cultures across the world. As pandemic travel restrictions were set in place with no end in sight, many recruitment professionals left for other positions amidst the loss of human interaction and in-person visits. 

Some of these institutions were already working with limited resources - small international admissions teams of only 3-4 people who are faced with navigating both the pandemic and the changing preferences of GenZ students worldwide. The question we heard over and over was “how can already understaffed recruiting teams set themselves up for success in light of budget cuts and fewer international travel opportunities?”

How universities have coped  

The various leaders we met with were all exploring solutions to the following questions:

  • What should our new (smaller) team look like?
  • How do we execute an effective global recruitment strategy with fewer hands and resources?
Cialfo CEO Rohan Pasari in conversation with Daniel Marshner at WIEC

As they continue to shape successful recruiting strategies amidst ongoing challenges, many of the universities we spoke with are turning to technology partnerships to help them maximize their resources while extending their global reach.

For instance, Cialfo’s university partners can rely on the expertise of their University Engagement Manager to help them judiciously allocate time, money, and personnel towards the students, schools, and global regions that should see the highest return. Seasoned former recruitment managers, Cialfo’s University Engagement Managers are able to call on their years of valuable international industry experience and knowledge to best serve their university partners. As recruiting departments shrink, University Engagement Managers act as an extension of the university’s recruiting team and help formulate ongoing strategies for success. 

A few of the many ways University Engagement Managers work to help maximize opportunities and resources include:

  • identifying emerging global trends
  • interpreting Cialfo’s growing pool of network application data — including evaluating its authenticity
  • ideating potential short and long-term recruitment strategies based on that data

In essence, we heard university leaders echo the same concerns across the U.S.

Overextended recruiters are looking for accurate and real-time information, and a reliable partner to help create and execute an effective recruitment strategy around it. Rohan and the rest of the Cialfo team are forever grateful to our university hosts across the country who shared their candid thoughts and insights on international student mobility with us.

For more takeaways from the Listen and Learn road trip, download our report.

Images: Team Cialfo, Fauxels, Andrea Piacquadio

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