Colleges and universities are prioritizing domestic outreach however recruitment is still strong internationally
The United States continues to attract international students from across the globe, with almost a million international students at U.S. colleges and universities in 2022.
Following a drop in recent years due to Covid-19 restrictions, international students accounted for 5.5% of the total student population, according to 2022 data from the International Education Exchange (IIE).
Data from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency revealed that the international students came from more than 227 countries, with more than 70% coming from Asia due to the large number of students coming from China and India. However, while China remains the number one country of origin, fewer Chinese students came to study in the U.S. in 2022 compared to 2021.
Several developments, such as visa delays, unfriendly immigration policies and growing global competition have resulted in prospective Chinese students choosing to study in other countries than the U.S., with universities in Canada, Singapore and the U.K. all having seen an increase in Chinese students over the past few years.
Nonetheless, more than 324,000 Chinese students studied in the U.S. in 2022, as well as more than 297,000 Indian students and more than 62,000 South Korean students. The rest of the top 10 countries of origin consisted of Canada, Brazil, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.
In the 2021-2022 academic year, the most popular field of study for international students was computer science, followed by second language learning (excluding English) and business administration and management. According to Open Doors, for the first time in a decade, there were more graduate students (41%) than undergraduates (36%).
While international students are spread across the United States, nearly half of them study in California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts and Florida. At 16.5%, California has the highest portion of international students.
The international student population also benefits the U.S. economy and domestic students. During the 2021-2022 academic year, they contributed $33.8bn to the economy and supported more than 335,000 jobs. Meanwhile, research at Duke University has found a host of benefits later in life for U.S. alumni who actively interacted with international students, such as better self-confidence, leadership, quantitative skills and overall intellectual growth.
Bigger focus on international students
While the increase in international students could partly be explained by the end of Covid-19 restrictions and friendlier immigration policies, U.S. colleges and universities have also actively been reaching out to prospects abroad.
The Institute of International Education’s Fall 2022 Snapshot on International Student Enrollment found that higher education institutions consider internationalization to be a priority, with almost 90% of institutions having committed financial resources to international student outreach and recruitment. Colleges and universities continue to reach out and recruit students worldwide, but many of them focus on specific countries each year. In fall 2022, India was the main focus (58%), followed by Vietnam (44%), Brazil (35%), international students at U.S. high schools (34%) and China (32%).
Those institutions actively recruiting international students mostly work with current international students (64%) and online recruitment events (53%), while 50% also reached out via social media channels.
Strong and well-thought-out paid campaigns are a great supplement to institutions’ organic marketing activity. By advertising in relevant places with tight audience targeting, U.S. colleges and universities can build their brand abroad and ensure they are top of mind of prospective international students selecting a program and education provider.
To find out more about how advertising can help you reach your recruitment goals, contact Robyn Davidson at [email protected]