International students are an important part of the population that makes up UK higher education institutions. They contribute to the diversity of student life on campus through the experiences, interests and skills they bring, having lived in a different country with its own unique culture. They also make an important contribution to the economy through the income they bring to universities.
According to statistics from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, 11 per cent of all higher education students in the UK are foreign students. This number rises to close to half or 40 per cent for students undertaking advanced research programmes. Students from China make up almost one-quarter of international student enrolment in the UK.
International alumni from UK universities go on to become professionals, gain employment with multinational corporations or put up their own businesses. While some choose to remain in the UK, most choose to go back and work in their home countries. This puts them in a good position to engage and attract prospective entrants to British universities.
Support from international alumni is a great complement to the government and universities’ recruitment efforts. Alumni have first-hand experience of studying in the UK and familiarity with the British educational system. They will also likely be ardent supporters of institutions and will be eager to promote and be involved with their alma mater. Alumni can also help reach students where it will not be possible for recruitment officers to do so. They are also a low-cost tool for recruitment as they will not require extensive training to promote a university.
International alumni can also help the recruitment drive online through alumni websites, such as the one set up by the Royal Holloway University of London. These websites allow every alumnae to have discussions with each other and the university on how to raise awareness for the university’s academic programmes.
A recent report commissioned by the Higher Education Agency (HEA) shows international alumni can promote opportunities for student mobility, offer support to students studying outside of their home countries, and help to bridge the gap for students who do not have the capability to be internationally mobile during in the course of their studies by mentoring and consulting via the Internet.
Do you think recruitment of international students is important? What steps is your university taking to reach out to alumni and enlist their help in recruiting international students? Let us know your thoughts on this issue by giving a comment below.