IIE Networker - Fall 2011 - (Page 29)

INNOVATIVE INTERNATIONAL STUDENT RECRUITMENT STRATEGIES When the Going Gets Tough: International Recruitment amid Budget Cutbacks By Ray Wallace INTERNATIONAL RECRUITMENT IN U.S. higher education is facing some new and perhaps sustained challenges amid budget cutbacks. Nevertheless, the reality is that schools are like snowflakes, each with its own unique set of advantages and challenges. Some schools with prestigious names and attractive locations will hardly take notice of the financial storm. In fact, those schools may find that they are able to take advantage of the competitive terrain to grow and shape their international enrollments. At the same time, large state and research universities with hundreds of undergraduate and graduate programs can navigate through a budget crisis without too much difficulty. In both cases, the “brand” of those schools actually does most of the recruiting. Given their strong brands, both the self-support and degree programs at those schools have such large margins and so many bookings and applicants that they might not notice the downturn. However, for some schools, particularly small to medium-sized schools with modest academic or geographic profiles, the challenges created by shrinking financial resources can be significant. At California State University, East Bay (CSUEB)—a medium-sized commuter school located in the suburbs of the San Francisco Bay Area—we have lost four full-time professional positions in the international programs area. Also, in the last five years we have cut our already small marketing and advertising budget by 50 percent. However, during that same period we have seen a 78 percent growth in international student enrollments and have had positive or even enrollment growth every year. This is because we maintained certain competitive structural advantages that we leveraged to grow our international enrollments at a low cost per student. Our first advantage is enlightened leadership. Since 1998 CSUEB has had two presidents, both of whom had a strong interest in our international programs. Through their influence, we were able to nurture the type of administrative structure that allowed for the development and growth of international programs. The key phrase is alignment of resources. The changes that led to our current structure took place gradually over a fiveyear period. The creation of an office to serve international students and scholars in 1998 was the beginning. A few years later a study abroad position was added; shortly thereafter, an existing intensive English program was included, and then came an international house facility. In 2004, the decision was made to transition staff from the domestic admissions office to create an international admissions office as part of the other international programs. The result is that our international programs unit now consists of five interrelated, synergistic operations: international admissions, an international house, an intensive English program, student and scholar advising, and study abroad. Our abiding goal is to develop the synergies between marketing, admissions, housing, and student support services so that recruitment to all programs is seamless and the process of admissions and getting settled on campus is as smooth and positive as possible. Our second advantage is location: California and the San Francisco Bay Area are known quantities, and the lifestyle and economic opportunities of the region are positive factors for the recruitment of international students. Our third advantage is timing: our growth in the last five years would not have been possible without the emergence of both China and India as major sources of international students coming to the U.S. The interests of those students A recent cohort of international students at California State University, East Bay. 29

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Fall 2011

A Message from Allan E. Goodman
IIENetworker University Presidents Interview Series
Celebrating 10 Years of the Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education
Multimedia Narratives as Innovative Components to Reentry Programs
When the Going Gets Tough: International Recruitment amid Budget Cutbacks
REAP-International: Global Student Ambassadors Who Reap What Is Sown
Trends in Transparency: Effects on International Student Recruitment
Advertisers’ Index
IIE Program Profile

IIE Networker - Fall 2011