Should your campus give up on international enrollments?

“Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.” – Winston Churchill

University leaders around the world are faced with a long list of uncertainties, but one of the most challenging is the future regarding international student mobility and enrollment. As the impact of the pandemic continues to reverberate, what should we do to prepare our campuses and communities for post-Covid global education?

It is tempting to walk away from your international initiatives, given recent radical enrollment reductions, fundamental changes in global travel capacity, global market conditions, and ever-changing headwinds from domestic-oriented policy storms.

But haste is not helpful here.  Some international students have continued their pursuit of US studies. Many others have chosen to defer their intent to study abroad, not cancelled their plans outright. There is researched evidence of pent-up demand for international education that is lying in wait until the pandemic threat subsides. 

So, what actions should a savvy campus leader take right now in order to be prepared to fully engage with these students once the time is again right?  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do we have the capabilities (people, plans, processes, priorities) to fully understand our international enrollment dynamics?
  • What is our history of enrollments from around the world?
  • How modern are our strategies regarding digital outreach, agent relations, in-country support, yield management, and international student service support on our campus? 

The fundamentals required to maximize international enrollment success are distinctive enough from those used for domestic and transfer enrollment that they require their own evaluation and planning. For instance, a robust and sophisticated agent management strategy should produce more substantial ROI that a traditional “give us a student, pay you a commission” model. 

Start by thoroughly reviewing your international enrollment state prior to the pandemic. Consider whether your pre-Covid international enrollment results were more a function of exceptional planning and execution, or of the ‘rising tide’ of international students that flooded US campuses, with little planning or intentional actions.

An international enrollment review, properly done, will produce a balanced assessment of where you’ve come from and a detailed set of actions that you can prepare for right now. Waiting until the end of the pandemic is the wrong time to try to get back into the market.

Contact us to learn from our international enrollment specialist how you can build the strongest pipelines possible and prepare for when the light at the end of the tunnel is shining brighter.

Victoria J. Dutcher CEO & President Dutcher LLC