IIE Networker - Spring 2010 - (Page 21)

Using Social Media to Recruit Indian Students By Rahul Choudaha Challenge: Decrease in Indian students coming to the U.S. “…for the first time, the number of institutions reporting increases in students from India do not outweigh those who are reporting declines (29 percent reporting increases and 29 percent reporting declines)” (Fall Joint Survey, 2009). Opportunity: Increase in social media activity in India “India records steady progress across the board with rising use of all social media platforms. Total penetration remains low, but among active Internet Users statistics are going in the right direction” (Universal McCann, 2008). RECENT REPORTS INDICATE that the number of Indian students heading to the U.S. may decrease. Therefore, universities may find it increasingly challenging to attract the most talented students from India. With the increasing use of social media in India, there is a significant opportunity for universities to overcome recruitment challenges in a cost-effective and targeted manner. The purpose of this article is to show how institutions can leverage the growth and penetration of social media to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of efforts to recruit Indian students. The recession has consolidated Indian students at a few select institutions that already enrolled large numbers of Indian students. Thus, institutions enrolling fewer international students have become more susceptible to downward trends in Indian student enrolments. For example, first-time graduate enrollment of Indian students in the 10 largest institutions decreased by only 6 percent, as compared to 16 percent overall (Bell & Mahler, 2009). growth of social media in India presents significant opportunities to improve institutional visibility, engage prospective Indian students and recruit them in a cost-effective manner. Social Media for Recruitment Social media may be defined as “online applications, platforms and media which aim to facilitate interaction, collaboration and the sharing of content” (Universal McCann, Trends in Indian Student Mobility The United States is the preferred destination of Indian students considering studying abroad. India has been the leading place of origin for eight consecutive years and the number of Indian students enrolled at U.S. institutions has increased by 9 percent since last year (Bhandari & Chow, 2009). In academic year 2008/09, India became the first country of origin to cross the threshold of 100,000 international students enrolled in U.S. universities. Every sixth international student enrolled in the U.S. higher education system is an Indian. Given the number of Indian students coming to the U.S., any decrease may impact total international student enrollment figures at many universities. There are already indications that the enrollment numbers for Indian students for academic year 2009/10 will be disappointing. A recent survey by the Council of Graduate Schools reported that first-time graduate enrollment of Indian students for fall 2009 decreased by 16 percent compared to the previous year (Bell & Mahler, 2009). International recruitment strategies in general, and social media strategies in particular, should be grounded in a deep understanding of the target market. In addition to challenges in enrolling Indian students, the international recruitment process itself is increasingly challenging. International recruitment is an expensive process, because developing a market requires significant time investment and because the costs of travel and registration for traditional recruitment fairs are high. In these times of budget cuts, small and medium universities have faced growing challenges and find themselves in the untenable situation of managing increasing costs and competition while working with decreasing budgets. The above factors imply that, with the exception of the top 50 institutions, most U.S. universities and colleges will face challenges in recruiting students from India. Consequently, U.S. higher education institutions must understand their target market in order to develop the most innovative recruitment strategies. In this context, the 2008). Social media, Web 2.0 and social networking are often used interchangeably to indicate the transition of the Internet toward a higher level of interactivity and more usergenerated content: “In truth, to claim social media as ‘new’ is slightly misleading. From the beginning, the Internet was founded on message boards, chat rooms and peer to peer communication. What has changed is the mass involvement that modern social platforms inspire” (Universal McCann, 2008). The central argument of this article is that the Internet in general and social media in particular are no longer just exploratory recruitment channels in the Indian context, but instead should be a central part of any strategy to engage prospective Indian students. Let us take the case of orkut.co.in, a website owned and operated by Google, which claims to be India’s largest social networking website. Interestingly, it has more users http://orkut.co.in

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Spring 2010

IIE Networker - Spring 2010
Message from Allan E. Goodman
IIE Networker University Presidents Interview Series: Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, President, National University of Singapore (NUS)
2010 IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards: Best Practices in International Education
U.S.-India Exchange: Ready for a “New Era”?
Using Social Media to Recruit Indian Students Rahul Choudaha, World
Advancing Sustainability: Alcoa Foundation ProgramServes as Catalyst for Greater International Collaboration for Universities
A New Frontier in China for the University of Montana
The View from Vietnam: Perceptions of Prospective
When Meaningful Partnerships Work: Developing World-Class Indonesian Geoscientists
Rising Demand from Southeast Asian Professionals for Tertiary Executive Education Programs: When Quality Matters
Advertisers’ Index
IIE Program Profile

IIE Networker - Spring 2010