If you are reading this, you probably realise that international students mean more than just a source of diversity and income for institutions. In an increasingly globalized world, internationally mobile students are just as many (if not even more!) than domestic ones. Institutions that are attractive destinations for international students are actually dependent on these students for their future.
So knowing how to make those precious talents enrol is not enough. You also need to know how to retain them. Do you?
Here are our 10 tips for successful international student retention:
1. Actions speak better than words
Be realistic about what your institution, campus, programs and resources can offer to international students. Do not embellish the facts, no matter how tempting it may be. Creating false expectations and making promises you cannot deliver are the shortest ways to a high international students churn rate!
2. Make international students a priority
If you really want international students to see your institution as the right place for them to be, you need to make them a priority. Develop a dedicated strategy and take specific actions and efforts to turn this into a reality. Don’t restrict it to students alone. Embrace internationalization and diversity also within your institution’s structure, faculty and management.
3. Think about procedures
Working with international students requires adapting structures, rules and procedures to their specific needs. You cannot expect the same solutions that work for local students to work in the same way for students coming from abroad as well. Fine-tune, customize and be flexible!
4. Think about scholarships
This point may be quite obvious but it is still worth mentioning. For many international talents scholarships are the only door to education abroad. If you wish international students to come and stay and your institutions, try and provide as many opportunities as possible for such support.
5. Deliver the same experience
If your local student body has opportunities for internships, study abroad or exchange experiences, your international students should have the same opportunities, too.
6. English, English, English
Institutions offering programs in English enjoy bigger numbers of international students. Unfortunately, most international students have varying levels of proficiency. And this is where the mess begins. To avoid mismatch and disappointments, make sure you have developed proper ESL assessment and flexible curricula so that students are placed together appropriately according to their levels of English proficiency.
7. Let current international students be your ambassadors
You can use your current international students to improve retention in two ways. One is to study their experiences in the classroom and on campus, and improve internally. The other is to let them be a source of information and inspiration for prospective international students!
8. Develop an international alumni network
There is no better proof of the amazing experience and quality of education you can deliver than the success of your alumni. Make sure you make the most out of letting your international alumni interact with current as well as prospective international students!
9. Think about parents, too
Whilst trying hard to focus on students themselves, do not forget that more often than not, parents have a crucial say in the choice of studying abroad. Provide opportunities for international parents to be informed and communicate with their children, as well as with institutional members. This may be something as simple as a weekly Skype call. Parents will share their positive (as well as negative!) experience with other parents. So here you have yet another ambassador!
10. Stick to your plan
No matter whether you decide to implement 1 or 5 or all of the tips listed above, you need to make a plan, launch it and wait. Our experience shows that it can take up to 3 years to see the results of your recruitment and retention efforts. So make your plan and stick to it! Nothing is more detrimental to success than changing your mind every other day.
Did you find this article useful? What are your successful tips for international student retention?