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International Education Strategies

About the International Student Market

It is estimated that 3.5 million students are presently enrolled in a course of study outside their home country and this number grows by an average of 5% per year. A rising level of wealth across the world has allowed a growing number of families to consider education options outside their home country, a trend that shows constant growth.

>  QS World Grad School Tour 
- 350 universities, 34 countries, 56 cities

The QS World Grad School Tour is a prestigious series of half-day graduate education fairs created especially for institutions worldwide who wish to recruit international students for Masters and PhD programs in all disciplines.  Book single or multiple cities according to your strategic goals. - QS World Grad School Tour

The United States has been at the center of this desire for generations and today it remains the country with the largest number of foreign students (nearly 700,000 according to Open Doors). National initiatives like EducationUSA, and the Commerce Department’s Commercial Service education delegations and expositions help boost the image of Study in the USA, but it is an increasingly competitive market not only from the English speaking world (UK, Australia and Canada), but from countries like China and Malaysia which have seen rapid growth in their international student enrollments.

Graduate school and its related research enterprise, driven by initiatives like the Fulbright Program have fueled much of the success of the US in the global market. 20% of the international students in the USA are at 25 schools, all are classified as “Research One”. Nine of these top ranked schools are in the Big 10 athletic conference, four in the Ivy League and three in the Pac 12 conference. Nineteen of the 25 play Division 1 football, 24 of 25 play Division I basketball.

Beyond this tier, Open Doors identifies that 50% of the international students in the USA attend 125 schools and 80% are at just over 350 schools. There are over 2,400 regionally accredit colleges and universities granting bachelor’s degrees and above, 4,000 awarding two year degrees and above.

Building a Brand for Your University

If your institution is not in this elite group of 125 schools, you have some work to do. You are not a recognized brand overseas and you are in markets that are much more competitive than those of your local community. You are not only competing with schools across your state and across the US, you are competing with schools from around the world.

If you have attended a NAFSA or other international education conference, you have seen the choices for advertising and marketing seem endless. There are magazines, guidebooks, web sites, tour operators, fair promoters and advertising agencies all that will each provide you access to their slice of the world market. It is quite possible to spend millions of dollars and only scratch the surface of the global opportunity.

A growing number of institutions have sought the help of a partner to forge their international brand, either through English Language programs, Pathway programs or through agent representation. International student recruiting agents can provide a very cost effective way to build a brand from the ground up, or to reinforce a relatively unknown brand. In many cases, institutions that are reluctant to use agents for direct admissions find that using agents for the ESL institutes is a viable alternative.

>  ChinaTrends - Article reviews on the Chinese Market

ChinaTrend provides some insight into the trends and future opportunities for American universities. Postings will highlight news coverage and provide background and insight to the future of the Chinese higher education, both from the domestic and international perspective.

An international brand is very different from your domestic brand. What drives international students to schools in the top tier is not the same message or the same image that drives to domestic population. Read Mark Shay’s essay on “How to build an overseas brand name for your college or university“ for more on this topic.

QS Stars is a product that can help your institution forge a brand overseas.  Driven by a research process similar to that of the company's flagship QS World University Rankings, QS Stars provides universities ratings in the following areas of quality: Teaching, Employability, Innovation, Internationalization, Facilities, Engagement and Research.  Ratings are one to five stars in each category with the university expected to highlight their best rated areas.  Consumers have come to know 5-star ratings and thus a university's promotion of its highest performing areas can help forge a brand.  If you think your university is innovative, QS Stars reports will be able to give you a measure of that claim and help the public recognize this not only in a local or national context, but against a worldwide choice of universities.  Click here to learn more about this new university ratings system

Winning Strategies for International Student Recruiting

Lead Contributor

Mark Shay

The driving force behind InternetCarbon is Mark Shay, a serial entrepreneur who has created, built and in several cases sold Internet-based and educationally related businesses. Read more for just a sampling of enterprises Shay brought to life...

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Memberships and Organizations

Mark has just completed his term on the Board of Directors of AIRC - the American International Recruitment Council - an organization he is still very active with.  Mark is  a member of AIEA's Fund Raising Task Force.

He is an individual member or participant in the efforts of AIEA, NAGAP, NAFSA, Council of Graduate Schools, NACAC, AACRAO and UPCEA.