Canadian Institutions

How Canadian institutions can thrive in the new International Student Recruitment landscape

If you’re part of the international recruitment team at a Canadian university or college, you know all too well of recent seismic, paradigm-shifting changes in government policies related to international students.

From the federal government’s decision to reduce international student visas by anywhere from 35% to 50% for the next 2 years, to Quebec’s provincial decision to double tuition for international students while simultaneously intensifying French-language proficiency rules, to Ontario’s plan to require schools to guarantee housing for international students, it has become clear that a sea-change is upon us vis-à-vis the international student recruitment space.

These policy decisions have been analyzed and discussed from every angle, and strong opinions on both sides of the issues have entered the fray. As you might imagine, disagreements as to what these changes mean, both by themselves and in tandem, abound. What is clear is that these new challenges will need new ideas and new ways of addressing your place in a profoundly different market.

As I see it, dramatic change in the rules of any marketplace will require Universities in Canada to:

  • Solidify your message: your institution has key selling points, and important differentiators that make you the best-fit choice for international students who might not even realize that yet. Whatever they are, your entire team should speak about them consistently.
  • Stand out: with fewer international students in the pool of available candidates, you’ll need to go out of your way to catch their attention. Your current recruitment model is likely already good, but adding new tools that other teams haven’t caught on to yet can help you stand out in a crowded market.
  • Open a window to your full learning experience: your courses and learning outcomes are important, but international students also want to get a feel for what it is like to attend at your campus. What does a day in the life of a student at your campus look like? Where do they go after class? Where do they eat and study off-campus? Are there clubs, teams or student organizations that might resonate? Show your prospective students the entire picture!
  • Engage: the data is clear: Edified’s Enquiry Experience Tracker notes that 85% of prospective students want to hear from their current student peers before choosing where to attend, and our own student survey shows that 58% of students consider engagement with current students the most reliable source of information, second only to your website. Future international students are asking for ways to engage, and those schools that make it possible to easily speak to current students will have a huge advantage.
  • A peer-to-peer (P2P) platform that makes it easy for prospective international students to connect to current students, while also empowering those students to create authentic content that shows how enriching the entire student experience can be, can be your differentiator. 
Canadian Flag

Now, more than ever, it is time to harness the power of your best recruitment assets: the students who already chose you and would enthusiastically recommend your campus to the world!

Artie Lane has been a college teacher, continuing ed and corporate learning facilitator, and life-long learner over the last 25 years. As a father of four, he’s kept a mindful watch on the education space across Canada, and has been partnered with EdTech and institutional teams across the country.