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How to recruit international students on a tight budget

The competition to recruit international students can be fierce. With so many reasons to attract overseas students to your university, it's no surprise that it’s such a difficult market.

The task is doubly hard when you’re working with a tight budget. Most universities and colleges don’t have an endless supply of cash to spend on recruitment campaigns, so being savvy with your strategy is essential.

Here are some of the ways you can smash your international student recruitment targets without breaking the bank.

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Make the most of your website

Your university website is one of your most important assets when it comes to attracting international students.

Internet searches are how many international students start looking for their dream university, so make sure yours is one they find. Target relevant keywords using tools like Semrush or Ahrefs, to improve your visibility in search results.

Once students find your site, it’s vital that it gives a great first impression. Think about the things that an international student is looking for, and these are clearly sign-posted and easy to find, like:

  • Programs available to international students
  • International student support services
  • Application process
  • Student testimonials
  • Campus facilities
  • Relevant scholarship opportunities

Prospective students often need persuading that your university is right for them, so show them how amazing it is with enticing pictures, videos, and testimonials.

Focus on what makes you great

In such a competitive market, it’s really important you make your university stand out from the crowd. That means identifying what makes you different and shouting about it as much as possible.

So if you’re science programs are the best in the area, talk about that. If your campus is renowned for its green initiatives, mention these.

There’s no point in wasting what little marketing budget you have on talking about things you know other institutions do better than you. International students aren’t stupid, they’ll do their research and quickly find the uni that does that thing best.

Engage effectively with international students

How you communicate with international students is key to your recruitment success and doesn't have to cost you anything to get right.

It’s really important that you offer a range of communication channels so students can speak to you on their terms. An instant messaging option, either through a chatbot or a dedicated WhatsApp account, is a great way to communicate with students in real-time and is an easy and convenient option for them.

You should also think about your content marketing strategy. Although creating great content that engages prospective students doesn’t come free, if you’re clever it doesn’t take much resource to be effective. Try to create content that;

  • Addresses students' concerns
  • Motivates them to study at your university
  • Recognizes their pain-points
  • Is delivered through the channels they use
  • Speaks to them in their language

Recruit online

There’s no doubt that in-person student recruitment fairs and similar events can be really effective, but they’re also expensive and time-consuming.

The same can be said for creating glossy, physical brochures to send to prospective students - they look great and can certainly have a place in your strategy, but they can also be a real drain on your resources.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic, online recruitment events have become more common. They can be a great, affordable way to connect with new students, and are perfect for tech-savvy Gen-Z applicants.

Here’s a breakdown of how you can make the most of recruiting students online.

Define and streamline your journey

One of the biggest challenges international students face is the complexity of the application process. It can feel like there are too many hurdles to overcome to make their dreams a reality.

Making your application process easy and digestible can give you a real advantage over other universities, and it doesn’t have to cost anything.

Start by explaining the process clearly on your website, and include everything the student needs to do to apply. If you have the resource, offer support and help at every stage so they know they’ll be supported.

Use the simple sales framework in this guide to break down your journey and work out where you can improve and add value.

Work with Studee

Studee was made with universities like yours in mind. We understand the difficulties of recruiting international students on a tight budget, and we’re here to help.

We do all the hard work by matching you with offer-ready students who meet your entry requirements. We pre-assess their application before we submit to make sure you only get applicants that you're likely to accept.

And the best bit? You don’t pay anything until a student enrolls - it’s a totally risk-free service. Book your free, 20-minute call today to discuss everything we can do for you.