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  • Writer's pictureZornitsa Licheva

The New Face of Student Recruitment in 2020-2021

Updated: May 12, 2020

What does the near future hold for higher education institutions?

While we are still grappling with the uncertain consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak, industry experts remind us that student recruitment has faced other challenges before.

A recent report by Vincenzo Raimo, Adjunct Professor of Global Higher Education at the Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology (China), and Dr Janet Ilieva, Founder of Education Insight, reflects:

Among the challenges faced by recruitment staff have been the South East Asian economic downturn of the late 1990s, the SARS epidemic in 2003, the aftermath of 9/11, and the immigration challenges in each of the main English-speaking destinations at some point over the past 20 years.

What can institutions of higher education learn from the past and what does the near future hold for their student recruitment?

Rise in home recruitment

Published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) – an independent think tank based in the UK – the publication anticipates that the enrolment of international students will drop. According to the authors, universities expecting this development will try to invest additional resources in attracting local candidates.

At the same time, institutions have many more tools and channels available for student recruitment than during the SARS epidemic, which means they are better prepared to manage student numbers in this difficult time.

Extended admissions

Universities and business schools on a global scale have already started to extend their admissions deadlines and to introduce rolling admissions. Mr Raimo and Dr Ilieva believe that January 2021 will become the preferred start date for institutions that wish to increase their chances of attracting international students while maintaining their safety.

Flexible application assessment

Although many university admissions tests such as GMAT, GRE, and IELTS are already available to take at home, the unprecedented situation has made it difficult for some applicants to prepare and submit their application. As a result, educational institutions need to be flexible when it comes to assessing and accepting candidates.

For those students who are not as prepared as they might otherwise have been, good universities will provide more in-sessional support to ensure that students remain on course and do not drop out later on,” Mr Raimo and Dr Ilieva argue.

More student incentives

Additional scholarships and other discounts are already part of the measures taken by some institutions to alleviate the difficulties experienced by international student prospects. While universities come up with more incentives for potential applicants, students should feel encouraged to pursue reputable programmes that might have been more difficult to gain admission to in the recent past.

Multi-campus programmes

The publication also highlights the value of transnational education and multi-campus programmes during this time. Universities with more than one campus, especially those located in several countries, have to overcome additional challenges related to managing different regulations. However, this can be a strength in itself, according to HEPI’s report.

Students in China, who would rather start their degree programmes in 2020 than delay for a year, could start their first year at a branch campus before moving to the UK a year later when the situation is back to normal,” the authors highlight.

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