Veronique van Cruchten

Different recruitment experiences and responses in the USA and Canada


From our webinar: Around the world with data in 60 minutes

Today’s analysis contrasts two vastly different experiences of the 2020 recruitment period driven by two vastly different political and socio-economic environments: the USA and Canada.

Our Director of Analytics and Consulting, Thijs van Vugt, is joined by three higher education experts to help place this fascinating data into context. We have Frank Camp, Executive Director of External Communications at Arizona Global; Mark Hanscom, Director of Graduate Admissions at Roger Williams University; and Ashley Dunlop, Director of Student Recruitment at the University of Winnipeg.



The USA had a challenging year in 2020 in terms of international student interest levels. The year saw a total drop of 20.9% on 2019 levels – the highest drop in interest we’ve seen globally. Although 2020 started on course, interest levels dropped dramatically from week 20 onwards and were reflected in both domestic interest (28% drop) and international interest (18% drop).
These losses were mostly driven by reductions in major output countries such as India, Egypt, the UK, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Pakistan. Surprisingly, however, they were mitigated in part by massive gains in interest from Ireland, Iran, Colombia, Mexico and Vietnam.
USA’s reaction to the pandemic can be presumed to be a key driver in this decline. However, it’s interesting to note that the decrease forms a part of an overall decline in global interest in the USA since November 2018.
By contrast, international interest in Canadian institutions followed mostly the 2019 trajectory across the year, ending with an average 6.2% increase in campus courses and a remarkable 15.7% increase in online program interest. By December, interest levels were markedly higher than in the same month in 2019. It’s interesting to note that the increase was largely driven by interest increases across major disciplines such as Business Management and Computer Science. Iran, Hong Kong, Turkey, France, Lebanon and Russia all saw significant increases as output countries.
Ashley at the University of Winnipeg suggests that Canada’s performance is driven by more than just her country’s reaction to the pandemic, citing improvements to immigration and job opportunities:

Students want a guarantee – as far as they can get it – that their studies aren’t for nothing…Canada has very attractive post-graduation work opportunities for students. The majority of students can stay after they graduate for three years with an open work permit.’ – Ashley Dunlop

On the US front, Frank explains that schools are turning to innovative study models to combat the drop in demand driven by the pandemic, finding new ways to blend the online and on-campus experiences:

We have around 690 locations around the world where a University of Arizona student can take University of Arizona classes. They’re overwhelmingly taking online classes, but are able to participate in the campus experience at our partner universities.‘ – Frank Camp

And new approaches to data-driven marketing are helping to identify growing global opportunities:

Given the pandemic, we’ve had to very much focus on a data-driven strategy. We’ve relied a lot on Studyportals data to understand the market and understand where there’s potential. We’ve even used Studyportals data for programmatic decision making.

You’ll find even more insight in the full video.

Watch the recording here.

And don’t forget we have a full breakdown of EMEA and APAC data to come in upcoming webinars. We hope to see you there.

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