If your business school is like other higher ed institutions, you’ve probably noticed an increasing number of international students in your MBA programs of late. In the 2013/14 academic year, one in five international students studied at the masters level in the United States. That’s a 26 percent increase from 2008/09. The United States is the world’s leader in welcoming international students to undergraduate and graduate programs. So if you offer an MBA program, how can your educational institution embrace the current trends that are shifting the face of international student enrollment in MBA programs?
1. Know Your Audience
When you’re thinking about social media outreach or you’re considering having materials in different languages on your website, it’s important to understand who your users are. Admissions statistics show that India and China are the home countries of many of the masters-level students in the U.S., with India the most popular. Recently, many students are also coming from countries that offer scholarship funding to their students, such as Mexico and Brazil. Creating materials that address the concerns of these students, breaking down the language barriers, and developing culturally-appropriate outreach materials can put you ahead of the game in a student’s business school rankings.
2. Understand that International Student Needs Are Diverse
International students have very diverse needs; that includes international students who are coming to the U.S. from the same country. Instead of dividing prospective international students based on their country of origin, focus instead on their characteristics. World Education Services divides international students into several customer profiles. These include students with higher means and lower academic preparedness, students with high means and high preparedness, and students who are more financially challenged but academically prepared. Each of these groups has a different ability to access your university website and information about your programs. Gather information on prospective international students so that you can target your marketing campaigns towards specific groups of students using information beyond their country of origin.
Related: Boosting International Student Recruitment with Effective Web Design – If your university is like many schools throughout the United States, you’re actively engaging in international student recruitment. But how do you increase international student enrollment?
3. Focus on your Website
File this under not-so-breaking news. Your website is the first resource that international students use when researching your school. Make sure that it provides more than information: it should provide an experience for your visitors. Virtual tours, interactive campus maps, and interviews with students all give your prospective students a stronger sense of your university programs and campus.
4. Human Connection Makes the Difference
Masters students don’t just look for information about campus buildings and research programs. They also want to hear the experiences of faculty, students, and alumni. Use your website and social media channels as storytelling platforms that build relationships with international students. Then, take your digital marketing personal. Provide opportunities, through webinars, email, or messaging apps, to give prospective international students a chance to interact with your community and ask any questions they have that you haven’t covered on your website. As a bonus, these forums are fantastic for conducting user research, which you can use to better target your audience moving forward.
5. Engage in Social Listening
In addition to web searches that reveal information about business school rankings, international students also look for information in discussion forums and through their social networks. This is particularly true for higher-income students who have easy access to mobile technologies. It’s important for universities to have a two-pronged approach to social media. Make sure you’re monitoring social media for appropriate keywords about your university, and be ready to chime in to a conversation when appropriate.
Of course, at the end of the day, if you’re working to create a university experience that’s inviting to international students, you’re starting with your website. Create a site that gets international students excited about enrolling with you. Contact eCity Interactive to learn more about how we can help you create a compelling digital experience for your prospective students.