Recruiting International Students: Essential But Far from Straightforward

Recruiting International Students: Essential But Far from Straightforward

In a globalized world, the recruitment of international students is no longer an option but a necessity. Schools that engage in recruiting international students are not only working towards their growth and success but also playing a vital role in fostering global citizenship and cultural exchange. However, schools in need of more resources and strategies may require assistance navigating the competitive educational landscape to attract qualified prospects.

Over the years, digital recruitment has become an essential part of international student admission teams. As digital channels become increasingly popular, international student recruiters should be seeking ways to engage digitally with their prospects. Similar to other fields, the international student recruitment process must align with the preferences and behaviors of the current tech-savvy generations. Therefore, the answer to the question, “How do universities recruit international students?” is straightforward: in an ever more digital-centric world, universities are adapting to this trend by employing online strategies to connect with students across borders. The positive aspect to consider is that leveraging digital channels for international student recruitment can bring significant advantages to both educational institutions and recruiters. This approach not only results in cost and time savings but also extends the reach to a larger pool of potential students.

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Focus on building a strong digital international reputation.
  • Enhance online brand awareness.
  • Connect and engage with prospective students via social media channels.
  • Foster a positive perception of your school among the target audience.
  • Leverage paid social media advertising for a highly targeted approach.

Over the years, many institutions have asked me, “Why should we recruit international students?” Apart from bringing diverse perspectives and enriching the academic and social environment, recruiting international students can help improve an institution’s global reputation and ranking.

The common question I am often asked is “how to recruit international students?” The key to international student recruitment is understanding the demographics, preferences, and needs of your international audience, as well as their expectations. The first major challenge you may encounter when recruiting international students in higher education is identifying the right tools to reach your audience. All audiences are different, so it is crucial to determine which communication channels your prospective students prefer to ensure that your efforts are well-spent. The next significant challenge is cutting through the noise. With many other schools vying to attract prospective students, you need to develop a comprehensive strategy outlining the actions you will take to ensure you stand out from the crowd. Consider these questions:

  • What type of content deeply resonates with your audience?
  • How do they prefer to engage in communication?
  • What are your standout strengths?
  • How can you ensure your prospects are well-informed about your strengths?

Remember that the key to getting your message across is knowing not just what to say but also how to say it, and that each platform you use has its own language and tone. Thus, tailoring your content to suit the platform is crucial for reaching and resonating with your intended audience. Another crucial factor to consider as you refine your international student recruitment strategy is the influence of political and economic fluctuations. Additionally, it is vital to ensure that your messages consider cultural differences, as clear and culturally sensitive communication plays a pivotal role in attracting and engaging international students.

You should also keep an eye on evolving student preferences and expectations. While promoting programs is essential, you also need to highlight the lifestyle, weather, sports, arts, LGBTQ+ support systems, and any other offerings your school provides to international students, as these factors are taken into consideration when students choose their study destination.

Finally, do not forget to discuss budget allocations and financial arrangements with your leadership or decision-makers in the institutions. Transparently conveying your budget and how you intend to allocate it is essential. This financial clarity allows you to tailor your efforts effectively, ensuring that your resources are optimally utilized to achieve your recruitment goals.

About the author: David has been an advocate for ameliorating recruiting practices, the development of new technologies in support of internationalization, the creation of innovative systems to support International Enrollment Management, and deeper and more creative approaches to overall international student migration. David, a Gateway Affiliate, is the CEO of Ustudy Global and the co-founder of Applywave. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC). LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-adler-applywave/
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Episode 29: Cultural Lens on U.S. Higher Education: Analyzing International Perceptions of 'Anti-Woke’ Discourse

Dive into a nuanced exploration of the global discourse surrounding higher education in the United States. Join us for a panel discussion with esteemed international educators as we embark on a journey through the lenses of culture and international perspective, examining how global audiences interpret and engage with the ‘anti-woke’ discourse within the context of U.S. higher education. This engaging panel discussion will delve into the intersections of culture, ideology, and education, and the complex landscape of how international audiences perceive the ‘anti-woke’ narrative that has emerged within U.S. academia.

Whether you’re a senior international officer, or simply curious about the diverse viewpoints shaping U.S. higher education, this podcast episode will provide an invaluable space for critical analysis and insightful conversations.

Speaker Biography:

Fanta Aw is a distinguished leader in international education, renowned for her extensive contributions to global learning, cross-cultural understanding, and educational equity. With a deep commitment to fostering connections between diverse cultures and promoting educational excellence, she has significantly impacted the international education community.

Fanta Aw’s career has been characterized by her dedication to advancing global education initiatives, promoting diversity and inclusion, and nurturing partnerships that transcend borders. She has held influential roles in various organizations, advocating for the importance of international collaboration and learning experiences that empower individuals to navigate an increasingly interconnected world.

As a thought leader and visionary, Fanta Aw’s insights and expertise have shaped discussions on the future of international education, emphasizing the significance of equitable access, cultural exchange, and lifelong learning. Her work has not only elevated institutions but has also inspired countless individuals to embrace the transformative power of global education.

Date: September 14th, 2023
Time: 12 noon ET

Sponsored by:

Mark Beirn


An experienced global researcher and administrator, Mark Beirn brings a critical approach to risk management, factoring structural racism and identity-based violence into his rubric for supporting equitable global mobility.

Specialization Areas:

– Global Risk Management
– Education Abroad
– Diversity, Equity, Inclusion in International Education
– Health and Safety
– Curriculum Development


Stephen Appiah-Padi​


Stephen Appiah-Padi is an international educator with several years of teaching and administrative experience in both 4 and 2-year HEIs. An experienced global education practitioner-scholar, with a demonstrated history of success in the field.

Dr. Appiah-Padi has a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada in Educational Policy & Administration with a specialization in International/Intercultural Education.

At Northwestern College, he provided oversight in the administration of education abroad and international student services. In Lansing, Michigan, he first oversaw diversity and intercultural education at Lansing Community College, and later created the Center for International and Intercultural Education (CIIE) which merged intercultural engagement and international education programs of the institution, and he became its first director. Additionally, Dr. Appiah-Padi taught a course, “Diversity in the American Workplace”, to undergraduate management students of the College. In his current position, he provides leadership and vision in advancing strategic internationalization initiatives, including international partnerships and study abroad programs at Bucknell University.

Dr Appiah-Padi has created and facilitated several workshops for faculty and staff development in higher education and in business organizations. He has presented at several national and international conferences. In NAFSA, among several volunteer leadership positions, he has served as Dean of the Fundamentals of Intercultural Communication Workshop, the Leadership Development Committee member, Chair of the Africa Special Interest Group, and a Fellow of the Global Fellowship Program for mentoring emerging leaders of internationalization in African HEIs. He currently serves as a member of the NAFSA Board of Directors.

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Rosa Almoguera


Dr. Rosa Almoguera has worked as an international educator for over twenty years. She was trained as a Hispanic Philologist at the Universidad Complutense, in Madrid, and did her M.A. at the University of Pennsylvania. Her Ph.D., from Universidad Complutense included a field study and edition of written balladry “Romancero”. During many years Rosa combined teaching and her role as a senior administrator at the Fundación Ortega-Marañón in Toledo, Spain. At the Foundation, Rosa directed and, in many cases created, programs for the University of Minnesota, Notre Dame, Princeton, Ohio State, Arcadia, and the University of Chicago. She has also been a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, University of Portland, and Interamericana de Puerto Rico.

Beginning in 2016, Rosa works as an international education consultant for both public and private European and US higher education institutions. Rosa has been successful in developing new partnerships and programs, as well as helping improve already existing ones.

Rosa is a member of Forum and NAFSA and has presented with higher education professionals on innovative academic and research programming, STEM in study abroad and Nationalism in Europe. Rosa is currently completing the final Professional Certification from the Forum on Education Abroad.