15 October 2014
The Art of Student Recruitment using Web Chat Software (Part 2)
Last month we blogged about the daily challenges faced by members of the university’s marketing, recruitment and outreach efforts. Today, we are going to look more closely at the unique hurdles of working in international student recruitment. According to a BBC source, overseas students are worth £5bn per year to the UK, this means there is always pressure from university executives to recruit as many high calibre international students as possible. But this is easier said than done.
On a practical level, there is always the risk of a significant language barrier. If you recruit internationally for your university you may be fluent in the language of your target country, but strong accents can still make communication a challenge (both over the phone and by email). Foreign students who have weak English but are otherwise highly qualified can also be difficult to convert as they may be tentative about underperforming due to inadequate language skills. Even when an international student has accepted an offer there is a chance that last-minute visa complications can sabotage all the effort put into obtaining them.
From our close work with UK universities we have learnt that the life of the International Recruitment Officer is not an easy one. It’s not simply a matter of picking up the phone, there is a lot of planning and timing that needs to take place as part of the process. For example, some countries operate by a different academic calendar, so it’s important to know at which point to introduce yourself to students. With a diversity of loans and associated laws, funding is equally, if not more, confusing. Since university resources are often tight, it’s not unusual for international student recruiters to have to remember the nuances of several countries.
We also understand that the goal is to recruit as many eligible international students as possible so that the university sees a good return on their investment within the overseas market. Without having the proper tools to support this effort, it can be difficult for student recruitment professionals to hit their goals. With UK’s long-standing competitors, like Australia, the US and Canada, also committing resources to lure talented foreign students to their shores, the marketplace is getting tougher by the day. Coming up with an idea that distinguishes your university can be a real challenge.
As a result, the outsourcing of international recruitment services is growing. If you’re a decision maker within your department this might be an option you are considering or have already implemented. The drawback is that you lose an element of control as you are no longer able to see the recruitment process from start to finish. Alternatively, you can look at technological innovations to assist your foreign outreach programme.
Click4Assistance already works with a number of UK universities to alleviate the difficulties in international recruitment. Contact one of our specially trained University Coordinators to find out how web chat software can provide a more efficient, cost-effective and accessible means of communicating for both your university and students across the world. Call our UK team on 0845 123 5871, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or initiate a chat.