In the 2017 International Student Survey, it was found that 8 out of 10 international students have a friend or family member who is studying or has studied as an international student. Of those, 69 per cent said the experience of their friends or family had influenced their choices for international study, with choice of country being the most common.
At Hobsons, we often conduct market research for clients to help them identify their student ambassadors, and we typically find that 70-80 percent of an institution’s current students say they would or already have recommended the university to other prospective students.
So what are universities doing to facilitate “word of mouth” for international student recruitment?
I’ve identified four examples of universities that are using their student ambassadors to support recruitment activity:
1) The University of York
The University of York provides prospective students the opportunity to ask existing students questions about what it’s like to live and study in York. Prospective students are required to complete a form before they can be connected to an ambassador, enabling the institution to capture the contact details and connect them with students of the same nationality.
2) Newcastle University
Newcastle University runs video and press campaigns, as well as an “International Welcome Week,” to showcase how welcoming Newcastle is to international students. Following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, the 2017 International Student Survey found that how welcoming a city is to international students can be very influential in a prospective student’s choice of city. Engaging existing international students to do this provides an authentic and convincing way to do that.
3) University of West London and City, University of London
Both the University of West London and City, University of London provide financial incentives, either in the form of scholarships or paid experience to encourage existing students to engage with prospective students to support recruitment.