Virtual Tours Are Critical for International Recruitment

You don’t have to look very far through this blog to see posts in which we discuss the importance of a virtual tour to the recruitment process for a college or university. We commonly focus on how this is a direct step to students scheduling a physical visit of campus. One specific and growing segment of prospective students is the international student. As important as a virtual tour is for all students we can’t help but feel it especially vital for the international student segment.

International Student Population is Growing

In the U.S. international student enrollment increased by nearly 175,000 between 2000-01 and 2010-11. What is especially interesting about this number is that 84% of these students are either Chinese or Indian. These numbers will most likely continue to grow especially as their economies continue to grow.

For all the challenges that U.S. higher education institutions face, our schools still remain at the top of the international lists despite many other industries losing their top rankings by foreign counterparts. International recruitment offers great diversity and offers markets that are larger than the U.S. like China and India. International students present hundreds of millions of potential students for recruitment.

Virtual Tours Commonly Replace Physical Visit

We frequently discuss the value of the virtual tour in narrowing down the list of colleges that a prospective student is considering to physically visit. With the cost of travel today it just doesn’t make financial sense to visit a half dozen or more schools. Now imagine the costs of an international student to physically visit and tour a college. The costs are exponentially higher.  It is true that they could schedule a visit and visit multiple colleges in a single trip, but what are the chances that all the schools they want to see are in the same city, state or even region of the country? However you look at it the cost is a lot of money.

I wish that we had data to backup our thesis, but we commonly hear from recruitment experts that international students rarely visit a school before showing up to move in the first day. This means that the only experience that they have of your campus is what they can find online. The best way for anyone to learn about a campus is still through a virtual tour or interactive campus map.

Marketing Takeaway

International recruitment presents lots of great advantages to colleges and universities. While offering them entirely new markets to pick future students from it also provides populations that can afford to pay the full cost of tuition without scholarships and other discounts. The virtual tour is one important piece of the international recruitment process.

It should also be noted that a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education pointed out that recruiting and supporting large international student populations does present its own set of challenges too.

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