Blog 🏛️ University 6th October 2023

The Essential International Student Recruitment Checklist for UK Universities in 2024

Profile image of Zahra Onsori
Zahra Onsori University Content Writer

As another recruitment cycle begins, what strategies are you taking forward into 2024? And what needs to be improved or fine tuned?

These may be questions you’ve already thought about. But when working towards growing and maintaining the quality of your undergraduate cohort, all to tight admissions deadlines, we’re willing to bet it can be hard to find the time to iterate on your existing recruitment practices.

But with your international brand visibility hinging on the effectiveness of your recruitment strategy, it illuminates the importance of your recruitment approach in remaining a contender in a globally mobile market.

Here at BridgeU, we work with universities around the world to grow and diversify their undergraduate international student cohort. And we know from our partnerships that every successful international strategy has the same core items that makes these recruitment channels so fruitful. 

So drawing on our expertise, we’ll walk you through the core non-negotiables that your 2024 recruitment approach needs to have in order to successfully reach your international undergraduate goals.

Want to get straight into learning how our data can increase the quality and diversity of your international undergraduate cohort for 2024? 

Count more than just numbers in your international recruitment goals

When working to reach your international recruitment goals, it can be easy to rely on numbers as the main driver of determining how successful your strategy has been.

But it’s important to not let student numbers override the importance of diversity and quality of your international cohort, because these are pivotal to a truly successful international strategy.

Although having a large number of students may surge your international numbers and be great in the short term, this ‘volume only’ growth approach is not guaranteed to deliver long term sustainability and growth. And each year, investing the same resources into this short term recruitment approach can be a costly decision for your institution.

Over time, this approach may also affect the diversity of your international cohort. And we know from our counsellor network that students deeply value diversity in their prospective institution.

So for universities, it’s important to not just increase the volume of your international cohort, but also invest into the right students, ones that will be successful from application to offer.

Tip: Think about how you can set strategic objectives to meet your current recruitment goals. For example;

Goal: To improve international undergraduate admissions for Maths and Computer Science. 

Strategy: Look for new ways to gauge demand and interest in this subject. BridgeU’s Analytics tool allows school counsellors to see how and why students are applying to particular courses.

Building partnerships with stakeholders like international school counsellors can also help you to expand your real-time market intelligence in key regions.

Take a student first approach 

It’s true that all international students value clear and concise information from your university. But the reality is that students around the world face different barriers to enrolment, depending on their culture, country of origin, location, and prospective destination choice. 

For example, when it comes to studying in the US, we’ve found that students in Zambia struggled to complete the work experience portion of the Common App application due to living in a rural area, compared to students in Dhaka who struggle to understand entry requirements to US institutions.

By taking a localised approach to recruiting internationally, it allows you to not just put student needs at the heart of your strategy, but also actively track how successful your strategy has been in recruiting students from specific source markets. In turn, this will allow you to be more tactical in your long term international recruitment efforts.  

Get real-time insights

Struggling to find real-time insights to supercharge your international recruitment strategy for 2024? Download our latest UK report to find out more about current data trends and international interest in the UK.

Optimise your website and marketing channels to support the international admissions process

As we said before, international students want clear information from your institution, especially as studying at your institution comes with so much change and sacrifice on their behalf. 

And for undergraduate international students in particular, this decision is even bigger as it will determine the next few years of the student’s life.

So it’s important that your marketing materials are optimised to support international students as they go through their research and application journey. And whilst it’s a given that international students will want to know about visas, course fees and subject diversity, they’ll also want to know that they’ll not just fit in, but thrive at your institution. 

They’ll want answers to questions like;

What is life like as an international student in your university? What are the living costs? What are the entry requirements? Are there any discounted fees or scholarships on offer? Does your university have a community reflective of the prospective applicants’ background? What peer systems are in place to assimilate students into their new country?

We’ve found all these questions, and more, to be at the forefront of student’s minds when researching prospective universities. 

On top of this, our Enrolment Services team have also noted growing concerns over security, financial aid and accommodation for students around the world, which is something else to consider signposting in your strategy.

If you are already optimising your website and marketing channels to reflect these student needs, is there anything you can do here to increase interest from specific source markets?

For example, are your course fees higher than competing universities for international students? Think about how you can localise your strategy and leverage student needs for cost effectiveness here. 

Keep a close eye on competitors 

Speaking of competitors, this brings us to our last item in our 2024 enrolment checklist. 

Our latest UK data points to an increase in competition from other countries. 

And for UK universities, it’s important to keep up with your competitors to ensure you don’t get left behind in a globally mobile marketplace.

Learn who your competitors are

Interested in learning more about international student data trends to the UK, and which countries the UK are competing against?

Utilising tools that can give you data insight into international student mobility and how your university fares against competitors is extremely valuable. 

At BridgeU, we have the tools to tell you who your competitors are in the international undergraduate market. Our platform also enables our partners insight into the real-time trends of each stage of a student’s university journey, from research to enrolment, which can support you in reaching your diversification goals much faster.

Having access to these real-time data trends is what can support you to diversify your 2024 international cohort, whilst planting the seeds of a long term efficient strategy. 

Utilising tools such as HESA can also be useful to look at past recruitment data trends to see how your competitors are performing in these emerging markets, and if there are any working strategies that can be used in your own recruiting. 

The next steps

Want to know how to strengthen these core components within your own international recruitment strategy?