How Student Profiling Can Transform Your International Student Recruitment

Trying to improve the effectiveness of your international student recruitment but not sure where to start? Student profiling should be your first step.

A university’s international student recruitment strategy can shape its internationalization efforts and attract a wealth of engaged, prospective students.

As with most things, the effectiveness of this strategy is often determined by the amount of time and effort you invest in it.

It’s not enough to just send some brochures out, attend some student fairs, and invest in some marketing campaigns.

What strategic thinking and planning sits behind your university’s strategy and its accompanying initiatives?

One of the crucial components of this initial strategic work is student profiling.

What is student profiling?

A student profile or persona is a collection of facts, insights, and analysis about a specific group of prospective students that you want to target in your recruitment efforts.

Depending on the number of groups of prospective students you want to target, you could have between three, four, or up to eight personas.

To develop these varied personas, your team will need to research and identify these student groups, assign a persona to each group, and detail what these current or prospective students are like, what they’re looking for, and how you can target them in your recruitment initiatives.

Each persona or student profile should delve into detail and include information on their education background, age groups, geographies, motivations, ambitions, and decision-making criteria.

For instance, prospective students from high socio-economic backgrounds in China will have different recruitment needs than other personas, as scholarships and affordable cost of living and studying may be less of a priority.

Your marketing messages, recruitment outreach, and admissions process should be tailored to meet these specific needs and address any concerns they may have.

How can it improve your international student recruitment efforts?

Once you’ve developed these personas and invested time into your student profiling, what are the long-term benefits to your international student recruitment strategy?

First things first, developing these personas is not an easy feat. It will take a significant amount of research and analysis, and you may need to hire an external agency who specializes in this complicated work.

However, the return on investment will be significant when you consider the value of accurate, actionable personas that help you reach your international recruitment targets.

Beyond meeting your existing international recruitment student targets, developing student personas can also help you identify gaps in your current recruitment strategy and discover new markets and areas to explore.

Your research may reveal that while you’ve been targeting prospective students in Malaysia, similar student sentiments and needs are present in student groups in Indonesia, and you’ve been missing an opportunity by not targeting that market.

This allows you to diversify your recruitment strategy with a strong research foundation to drive your decisions and budget allocations, reducing risk and building buy-in internally.

If this research and analysis sounds like a lot of work for your already over-worked university planning, strategy, and research department then our QS Digital Insights and Strategy team can help.

To find out more about how student personas and profiles can dramatically improve your international student recruitment strategy, download your free copy of our latest report How to Use Student Personas and Profiles for International Recruitment.


About the Author:

As the B2B Content Marketing Manager, Sarah Linney is responsible for communicating the insights, research, and market analysis that have positioned QS as a thought leader in the higher education sector. After completing a Communications-Journalism degree at Charles Sturt University in Australia, Sarah worked in radio news and B2B print publishing before joining the content marketing sector. While working at a content marketing agency, Sarah was transferred to their New York office. She then led content marketing efforts at two tech startups in New York as a Content Manager before deciding to make the move to the UK and QS. 

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