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5 Strategies to Recruit More Students in 2024

4 min read

Thaís Roberto

Finding the next cohort of students bring new challenges for higher ed marketers, as new generations bring new priorities and expectations. 

As the new year approaches, the time comes to analyze what’s been achieved in 2023 and what new goals to set for the 2024 recruitment cycle. 

Continue reading for insights into what the new generation of students are looking for in universities and 5 strategies on how to recruit more students.

Highlight post-graduation opportunities and career services

Keystone’s 2023 State of Student Recruitment report revealed the number one motivation for students to pursue education abroad is achieving career goals. Furthermore, 36.9% of surveyed students select internship opportunities as the most important factor when choosing a program, followed by 23.6% preference for a practical curriculum.

This generation of students see employability and job security as an indicator of the return on their investment in a degree, and an effective career support service that extends beyond graduation may be the selling point for career-oriented prospective students.

To attract more students, communicate what career development resources are available, such as resume workshops, interview preparation, and networking events. Promote collaborations with industry partners, internships, and highlight alum success stories, illustrating the tangible outcomes of their time at your university.

Demonstrate commitment to inclusion and mental health

Generation Alpha is the most ethnically diverse and socially conscious generation to date. With a heightened awareness of diversity, they embrace differences and notice when a space lacks representation of the world around them. When choosing a university, they want more than a welcoming student community. They will look for a school with a proven record of supporting every student at an institutional level.

Beyond embracing students of all backgrounds and identities, their expectations include psychological and pedagogical support – especially for students struggling with mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, or ADHD – and full accessibility for students with different forms of disability.

To show your school’s commitment to inclusion, emphasize diversity and inclusion in your marketing strategy through authentic testimonies from students who have benefitted from these services. Prospective students will feel more confident applying if they know the university will have their backs during their time abroad.

Use students’ native languages when possible

Although English is the prevalent language in international recruitment processes, a 2020 survey by CSA Research found that 76% of customers favor communication in their native language.

There are many benefits of communicating with prospective students in their native language. It promotes clear communication, facilitating their understanding of application processes and requirements, which is particularly helpful for those unfamiliar with studying abroad. It also builds trust, especially with the families of international students, making it easier to communicate with parents who may not be proficient in English. 

The ease with which students can access information and communicate with admissions and support staff in their native language strengthens the bond with the university, increasing satisfaction, conversion rates, and, ultimately, enrollment. This approach demonstrates that universities strive beyond academic excellence, indicating a genuine understanding of their international student body’s unique needs and backgrounds.

Be responsive and timely

Gen Z wants quick access to information. Beyond navigating intuitive and responsive websites, they want immediate answers to any questions they might have: 61% of students surveyed by Keystone expect universities to respond to their inquiries within 24 hours or less.

Many students are also “speedrunning” the student journey, with 56% of respondents claiming they began researching less than six months before applying. With a shorter window to lock down every decision, getting quick answers from a university may be what sets it apart from other options.

Of course, maintaining a large staff capable of answering every student inquiry that arrives through every communication channel is impractical and unrealistic, but automation tools such as AI chat assistants can efficiently filter and direct students’ queries to the appropriate department.

Promote virtual fairs and information sessions

Virtual open days have become more widespread in the last few years, following the upheaval of the COVID pandemic. These events can attract high numbers of students worldwide and provide engagement and an immersive experience without the high costs and geographical limitations of an in-person event.

In online fairs, universities can showcase their campus culture and environment through virtual booths. Students can navigate the fair, attending sessions and webinars without time constraints. Through live chats with admissions staff and student ambassadors, attendees can have their most pertinent questions answered and learn about application requirements, enrollment, campus life, and much more.

To participate in an online fair, universities can require students to fill out a registration form with their personal information and areas of interest, providing valuable insights into the event’s audience while increasing quality lead generation.

Put students at the center

It’s essential always to remember that recruitment is much more about the students than about the school. Learning their tendencies, aspirations, and expectations and knowing how to deliver the best possible experience should be the driving force of every recruitment strategy. 

The suggestions listed here are only a few among many strategies to strengthen your student recruitment. As your team prepares for a new year, remember that adaptability and connection will be your strongest allies in bringing the best students for 2024.

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