The Student Recruiters: Anita Sandham at the University of Sheffield

An image of Anita Sandham, Regional Manager at the Univeristy of Sheffield

Student recruitment teams have a wide-ranging role, with international travel just as common as doing the accommodation tour. At their core though, they’re helping students make a life-changing decision, and offering guidance to make sure it’s the right one for them. 

In a conversation with Anita Sandham, Regional Manager, China PRC and Taiwan, at the University of Sheffield, we discussed how she landed in South Yorkshire, her favourite moments in student recruitment, and advice for prospective international students.  

Please can you take us through your work history? 

After graduating with a BA (Hons) in European Marketing and a CIM Postgraduate Diploma, I moved to Sheffield and began my career as a Marketing Assistant for a training company, then worked for a number of years for a security manufacturing company as Head of International and UK Marketing. 
In 2009, I moved into HE and joined Sheffield Hallam University as an International Marketing Manager and over the years worked in many regions of the world including South Asia, South East Asia and Europe, taking on more recruitment and partnership activity, alongside marketing and studying an MBA part time. 
5 years ago, I made the move to the University of Sheffield for a maternity cover post as a Regional Manager for Latin America and Norway. I then moved to my current role as Regional Manager for China PRC and Taiwan just 2 weeks before the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK. It wasn’t until last year that I was able to visit China for the first time to meet our local team in person and do recruitment activity. 

Why do you like working in student recruitment and how did you get into it? 

I enjoy the variety of work and no two days are the same. It’s definitely not a boring job. There are always different challenges and I enjoy meeting people from different backgrounds, and I’ve made friends around the world. 15 years on, I still stay in touch with my first student ambassadors from India and Nepal. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the chance to combine my inquisitive nature, my personal interest in travel and different cultures and my marketing background into a job role. 
I had a number of friends who already worked in higher education, and it sounded like an interesting and friendly sector. I was seeking a move out of my old industry, as when the global recession hit, it meant that I was tasked with making some of my team redundant and the manufacturing sector was incredibly unstable. Sheffield Hallam was setting up a new international marketing team and this seemed to match perfectly with my professional background, despite not having HE experience.

Do you have a favourite moment in your job? 

I’ve actually got two! 
The first was when I was shown the difference I made in someone’s life. Many years ago, I visited a school in Sri Lanka and one of the A Level students who I spoke with came to study in the UK as a result. A few years after graduation, she became a colleague and told me the impact that the visit to her school had made on her life. She’s made Sheffield her home. 
The second one was being able to get back on a plane in October 2022 and going to Taiwan for the first time, eventually meeting prospective students and key stakeholders face to face and doing ‘normal’ recruitment work once again. 

How do student recruitment events help you in your efforts to recruit international students? 

It’s invaluable meeting prospective students and parents at recruitment events in their home countries. Nothing can replace meeting face to face, building a connection and having in-depth conversations. Doing online recruitment events was a very different experience.

What is your advice to international students looking to study at your university?

Take the opportunity to meet with University staff when they visit your home country, engage in online open days and webinars to hear from academic staff and specialist teams across the University such as careers, accommodation and student support. Ask all the questions you like to make sure that the course, institution and city is right for you. It’s one of the most important decisions in your life.

We are always happy to host prospective international students on campus and they can meet with our student ambassadors there or alternatively online. Our student ambassadors tell us how much they love studying and living in Sheffield. There’s no better recommendation than a current student talking about the world-class teaching at the University of Sheffield, the great support service and all in a welcoming and affordable city.

Related QS Insights

Sign up for industry insights

Receive the latest insights, expertise and commentary on the topics which matter most in higher education, straight to your inbox.

Sign up