Recruiting (recruiting) students for an academic or technical program involves attracting the attention of students through educational programs and unhindered admission to the program. An effective recruitment strategy includes transparency for students and an environment conducive to conversation and information sharing. Successful student recruiting needs organization, planning, and effective communication skills. Here are some necessary steps to enroll students.
|KRASNOVA Gulnara Amangeldinovna - Vice-Rector for International Affairs, Peoples' Friendship University of Russia, Doctor of Philosophy, Professor. Editor-in-chief of the journal “Vestnik RUDN” (series “Informatization of Education”). Member of the expert council for international education of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, member of the coordinating council for the informatization of the CIS countries.|
Russian universities have joined the struggle for foreign students thanks to the annual monitoring of the effectiveness of universities. Now regional universities should have at least 0.7 percent, and universities in Moscow and St. Petersburg at least 3 percent of foreign students from the total contingent. In fact, this indicator has fundamentally changed the attitude within educational organizations to international activities, forcing the leadership of universities to take an active position in attracting foreign students. You can even talk about the revolution (in a positive sense), bearing in mind the fact that until recently very often the university’s international service was considered as a service unit, which operated either as a travel agency or as a translation agency.
Now, real students from near and far abroad are expected from international service, and the question of the effectiveness and inefficiency of the university’s work depends on the results of this structural unit. It is no coincidence that in most Russian universities there is a reorganization of international services and staff development.
How, then, in the short term as part of the admission campaign to attract foreigners to study, and then to keep them? Are there any such tools? And if so, which ones?
First you need to understand how many students will be the minimum threshold that you want to achieve. What does 0.7 or 3 percent of the total contingent mean, and what categories of foreign students are included in this number. So, for example, interns, residents who study at preparatory faculties, students in the framework of the included training, and even graduate students are not included in the required number. It will include bachelors, masters studying full-time, including students studying in joint programs. Obviously, the calculations should be made in conjunction with the student accounting unit.
The next step should be express marketing research. The result will be a definition of the list of countries from which students are supposed to be enrolled, and a list of attractive specialties and forms of study for which foreign students can be involved.
At the first stage, it is important to focus on neighboring countries, that is, the CIS and the Baltic states. For obvious reasons, this is a single language space, and traditionally a positive attitude towards Russian education, and the recognition of Russian universities in these countries.
Most of the applicants from the CIS and Baltic countries belong to the so-called Russian-speaking population, which is trying to gain a foothold in Russia through educational migration. Unfortunately, the financial opportunities of such applicants and their families are small, therefore, an increase in the contingent can be influenced by a flexible pricing policy. This means that for students from the CIS and Baltic countries, you can set the cost of training, which will be lower than that of citizens of the Russian Federation, but not lower than the cost standard, which is established by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation annually. However, most often even this cost is unbearable for this category of applicants, so it is advisable to develop a range of financial support measures. Perhaps the university can provide students with free housing, material assistance from extrabudgetary funds, provide food stamps and offer work inside the campus. Of course, a lot depends on the material and technical base of the university, but the indicator also needs to be implemented. Therefore, a clear understanding of how many foreign students should be accepted annually will allow us to calculate the costs that will have to be borne by the above activities.
As part of a marketing research, you can raise the archives of the personal files of graduates of the Soviet period to understand which republics students traditionally studied from, where graduates may work to attract them to the university’s admission campaign.
According to the results of the 2012-2013 academic year, in the assessment unit “Internationalization” of the Rating of Classical and National Research Universities among 106 domestic universities, the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia takes the first place.
According to the Interfax news agency.
In parallel, it is necessary to conduct an audit of the university website. If necessary, provide complete and clear information for applicants from the CIS and Baltic countries on training and its cost, living conditions, various loyalty programs and other issues.
The next step should be the preparation of a business trip plan and exhibition activities as part of the admission campaign. There is a lot of information about international exhibitions in all countries of near and far abroad in the public domain. It is important to understand how productive the exposition will be, for how long it is held, how many visitors systematically visit it, which universities and countries are represented. Of course, not all presentations are equally effective. However, if at least two or three applicants come to study after the exhibition, consider that the costs have already paid off. During the period of the exhibition, it is necessary to study the possibility of visiting partner universities or those that are considered as partner in the future. As part of the visit, worked out in advance, it is necessary to agree on a presentation, lecture, meeting with graduate students.
All the measures described above are understandable, have long been known and in fact they only need to be activated, to give a new impetus.
One of the new forms of attracting students is cooperation with recruiting agencies to recruit foreign students. Recruiting agencies can be found at the international exhibition ICEF (International Conferences and Educational Fairs, www.icef.com). Its purpose is to establish cooperation between educational organizations and recruiting agencies.
Recruiting agencies operate in accordance with a contract under which they receive remuneration for their activities. As a rule, the amount is expressed as a percentage: an average of about 15 of the cost of the first year of study and, possibly, in subsequent years within 1-2 annually. Since the agency’s activities fall under the category of services, the university must hold a competition if the amount of remuneration exceeds 400 thousand rubles per quarter. Such competitions are already being held, and the documentation can be found on the public procurement portal (http://zakupki.gov.ru).
Of course, there is a great danger of reputational losses when working with recruiting agencies. Why? The interests of the university are represented by a foreign campaign, which, in order to get an applicant, can promise unrealistic things. In this case, disappointment awaits the student upon arrival, and explanations await the international service. Only careful selection of the agency, a clear contract for unforeseen situations will help to avoid problems.
Settlement with the agency takes place after students stopped by and paid tuition for the year under an agreement with the university. In this case, you must carefully register the payment terms and conditions for the return of funds to the student. More precisely, it is necessary to register from what period the funds are not returned: from the beginning of the school year or semester. In some cases, students ask for an installment plan, a specific payment schedule: quarterly, monthly, semester. All this is permissible, but should be taken into account in calculations with the agency.
How to choose an agency? This is a difficult question, but there are some basic criteria: the size of the agency, its duration in the educational services market, and reputation. It should be borne in mind that there are significantly fewer agencies than universities that want to get students. Therefore, a good agency will have to be persuaded to work with a particular university. Working with the agency requires constant attention, personal meetings and visits, as well as prompt answers to the questions of its managers, who, in turn, are asked by potential applicants.
Agency services cannot be dispensed with when working with migration-hazardous countries, where secondment of international service employees is undesirable, as well as with countries where recruiting activities must be licensed by the state through the national Ministry of Education: as, for example, in China.
The positive thing about working with agencies is that usually they are settled after students are recruited, and it is rarely the case that some of them are asked to advance their activities.
A good opportunity for recruiting foreign students is advertising on specialized sites. The principle of their work is as follows: the university posts information about its programs according to a given template after payment of the fee, and potential students who use the site’s services see the university’s advertisement. There are a lot of sites of this kind, the cost of the annual fee is very different from their fame, number of visitors and other circumstances. There are sites that work for a specific region or country, the level of training (only a master's program or short-term courses), only in foreign languages.
The university’s work with such sites requires significant investments, and Russian educational institutions are represented here very little. The university’s advertising in the network media Facebook, Twitter, G + and Youtube in English and other foreign languages can be free. Most universities in the world have similar resources and are actively using them to attract applicants.
Of course, the above basic approaches and tools are only the first step towards building a system of recruitment of foreign students. But even they can give significant positive results in the shortest possible time.