Macro Trends in Student Recruitment

Like most areas in marketing also the field of Student Recruitment has been subject to a lot of change in the past few years. Many institutions are still struggling with the effects of these changes and find it hard to decide where to focus. To be able pick the appropriate and most effective strategy in today’s higher education environment it is important to understand which macro trends are accurate in the world of student recruitment. In this blog post I will list the most important ones.

A different prospect population

In the old days it was quite easy for marketers in higher and vocational education to describe their prospective student population. Most of the time it consisted of 17 year old kids who were about to graduate from high school and lived within a radius of 25 miles from the university or college. Today people have to keep on learning for the duration of their lives and therefore will have to return to school many times. This causes the need for a more flexible and modular program and course offering and results in an increase of part time students.

 The world as market place

Distance learning technologies (including MOOCS) have made it possible for institutions to deliver their courses and programs literally across the globe and at the same time international mobility of students is actively promoted by governments of many countries. Therefore, today Student Recruitment activities should reach way beyond the borders of your country.

Peer-to-peer, social and authentic marketing

Like in all branches and segments, also in Higher Education the days of ‘push marketing’ are over. Just broadcasting how great your courses are will no longer do the trick. Students are social customers, who are pretty well informed about the choices they have and who are used to share almost everything with their peers by using social media. Marketing, therefore, must by authentic and focused on a two way dialog. Institutions should look at themselves as guides and coaches advising in the choice of study programs prospective student have to make. Universities today should really try and building individual relationships with their prospective students by offering them options for direct engagement through portals and apps.


The marketing efforts of student recruiters should not be targeted at the prospective students only. Their influencers, like the teachers or deans at their high schools, form an important target audience as well. In fact the entire network around a prospective student, including his parents, current teachers and social contacts, should be mapped and then approached, like a sales manager would do in complex multi-level enterprise sales projects. Options for online engagement should also be offered to influencers, especially to teachers and deans at the current schools of your prospects.

I do believe those a most important macro trends in Student Recruitment, applicable for institutions across the globe. Of course there might be more, and specific ones that are valid just for your situation. Therefore, I don’t believe that a single blue print for Student Recruitment anno 2015 can be made. Each institution will still have to define its own strategy, but the trends mention in this article should definitely be taken into consideration while doing so.


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This entry was posted on August 4, 2015 by in Student Recruitment and tagged , , .
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