Top 3 Student Recruitment Tips for International Residencies

Top 3 Student Recruitment Tips for International Residencies

Faculty-led study abroad trips are ever-popular for the chance they give students to grow their networks, expand their knowledge and develop their resumes. But with so many competing options, it’s important for faculty and administrators to understand the art – and the science – of attracting student enrolments. Two decades of experience supporting faculty and program administrators in designing global programs has yielded insight into why students enrol in some programs but not on others. Armed with new discoveries, supported by survey science, we compiled our Top 3 Strategies for effective student recruitment.


1. Getting the basics right… the right place, the right price

Perhaps unsurprisingly, over three-quarters of students choosing to travel as an elective course state that destination is the number one factor in their decision. Academic content was the second highest rated component. Price sensitivity is still important for students contemplating elective programs. Whilst we’re keen on delivering high-impact trips for under $2,000, course fees, visa/vaccination, insurance costs, airfare, plus additional on-the-ground spending can bump up a trip cost to anywhere between $3-$7,000 per student – the pressure of providing excellent content and ‘ungoogleable’ experiences is therefore high. When selecting a destination, the golden trifecta consists of affordability, accessibility and the depth of cultural difference from the home country. In 2018 for example, ISP’s “winningest” destinations among elective students were Prague, Beijing, Barcelona, Dubai and Ho Chi Minh City. All offer excellent content, good travel links and reasonable prices – yes, even Dubai!



2. Relevant, Insta-worthy, High Impact content

90% of students responded to say the trip had a positive impact, whilst 77% claimed it to have a high or profound impact. The number one influencing factor was the strength of the academic content and the opportunities to develop cultural understanding, leadership skills and professional networks. But the way in which these opportunities are delivered is also vital. ISP evaluations collected from every program show traveling students no longer value ‘typical’ cultural moments as they used to – standing in front of the Eiffel Tower or on the Great Wall doesn’t have the same impact, with students now valuing more hands-on cultural experiences such as cooking classes or volunteering days with local NGOs. Students are also eschewing traditional “front to back” academic events such as university presentations by local faculty. Experiences such as consulting projects or ‘shark tank’ pitching sessions are shown to be more engaging and relevant. In short, students do not view the international trip as a way to gain knowledge (which they feel they can get online), but as a chance to develop leadership skills and gain experience. Successfully filled trips are brimming with content that inspires and excites students which in turn, works well for professors and administrators in recruiting for the following year’s trip.


3. Know your audience – and where to find them

Once you’ve designed an itinerary that any self-respecting business student would be proud to experience, it’s time to show it off! Kick marketing into gear by working with your provider to design great marketing collateral which includes the proposed itinerary (Discover more about how we work at ISP, here). These materials can be used to entice students to information sessions and cultural evenings. Highly visual content and especially videos are invaluable. If your school has study abroad alumni who have visited the proposed destination, it’s great to bring them to the information sessions or your class time to answer questions and give advice – nothing sells better than word of mouth and peer recommendations.

Study Abroad offices are also great resources, although often overwhelmed by the number of options they have to advise on – but it doesn’t hurt to give advisors a fully formed bundle of information, making it an easy trip for them to promote. Detail, at this point, is absolutely critical. The proposed itinerary, pricing, inclusions, cultural activities, hotels, transport, safety and academic requirements should all be available to students as they consider their options.

If possible, support the trip proposal with online content such as YouTube videos, a website or social media which can help evoke the flavor and potential of each trip. (ISP offers a travel app and a Student Zone website which gives students a comprehensive, on-the-ground, real-time guide throughout their international residency).


We’re always happy to answer questions and to work with you to design irresistible programs.
Contact us to learn more!

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