Cara Lambregts

Recruiting Undergraduate Students


Recruiting Undergraduate Students

Many higher education institutions have understandably put a heavy focus on recruiting  international graduate students rather than international undergraduate students. This makes sense given that approximately 76.6% of student interest in international programmes is driven by Master’s students. Only 17.1% of prospective student searches on Studyportals are for Bachelor’s degrees.

Despite these numbers, recruitment professionals should not ignore international Bachelor’s students as there are numerous benefits that these students bring to campus.

Undergraduate students are on your campus for several years – depending on the length of your programmes students can remain enrolled for 3 to 4 years. This brings a long-lasting and additional revenue stream for institutions. Additionally, the retention rate of students from Bachelor’s to Master’s is also quite high, especially under circumstances in which the school offers a small discount for students to stay on campus and continue their education there.

Despite these benefits, these students can be more difficult to reach out to and connect with. This is something that dissuades many institutions but there are some simple best practices that can help institutions connect We spoke with Jemma Davies, Global Director of Enrolment Partnerships at Studyportals about how Higher Education can recruit more international undergraduate students.

Offline Strategies

When reaching out to undergraduate students, it is imperative to have an omnichannel effort that will help promote interactions both online and offline.  Schools would benefit from reaching out to high schools where potential students are already exploring their next step options. Jemma Davies shared with us the best strategy for choosing high schools to reach out to:

“(It is best to tap into the) International School network. So you know, they’re naturally quite a good audience: they’re keen to travel, they’re already learning English and they’ve got quite an international student body.”

These international schools are also a great target as most schools are members of larger international networks, such as International Baccalaureate, and the Council of International Schools. Being members of these networks means that these students are held up to a high standard are more likely to be successful during their higher education journey.

In addition to building these networks and attending fairs, inviting potential students to your campus for a tour and an academic experience (ie A Day In Student Life) can help build a strong relationship between potential students and your institution.

Speaking to these students directly in this offline manner can be very effective, as it is a direct line of communication. However, these are tactics take lot of resources and can limit the students who are exposed to your institution.

Engaging with parents

Another key difference in recruiting undergraduate students is that these students are new to the adult world and, in most cases, are leaving home for the first time. This means that you not only have to convince the students that they will enjoy your institution and programmes, but also their parents. Parents will be more focused on the safety and support their child will require. Topics such as accommodation, finances, and extracurricular activities will be important for parents.

“You really need buy in from parents. So developing parent content, which is typically translated. Is key. This could be a flyer talking about safety and university life and programmes.”

Although these students are old enough to be out on their own, it is highly likely that they are influenced by their family. Ensure that parents are equally well advised and informed and you will be on the path to success in recruiting these young students.

Standing out in undergraduate recruitment

Just as in postgraduate recruitment, standing out in the crowd is incredibly important when it comes to undergraduate recruitment.  What are your unique selling points, and are you making sure they are highlighted. Do you have special departments that are unique to your school only? Do you offer activities that other schools may be lacking, for example study exchange opportunities? Are you ranked as a top school for certain subjects?

‘When you have your clear idea of which points you want to highlight for potential students, bringing your institution to digital platforms is the next step. Digital recruitment is a key aspect when increasing diversity amongst your student population. You will be able to reach a large audience, including students who have been in high schools outside of international schools or your network.’

Information on your school should be shared via platforms that will connect with younger audiences. Social media has shifted over the past years, and as such platforms such as Instagram and TikTok have become a key opportunity for the recruitment of students.

Highest student interest for Undergraduate courses by subject

Computer Sciences

Business Administration

General Engineering & Technology

Management Studies

International Business

Software Engineering

Health Sciences


Informatics & Information Technology


Comparing International Students Qualifications

The last hurdle that many institutions have to face is comparing qualifications and student credentials across borders. With so many different educations systems throughout the world, it can seem like an enormous task to compare qualifications from around the globe. However, there are various organizations that will be able to assist your admissions department in comparing and qualifying degree information.  – NA – USA – NL – GLOBAL

By connecting directly with students, their families, and their interests, you will be able to diversify your undergraduate student population, bring revenue to your institution, and retain many of these students for their post-graduate studies.

Do you want to learn more about choosing focus countries for international student recruitment? Download our Guide to diversifying international student recruitment to learn more about the 7 steps we recommend.

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