A new recruitment world order

by jguiver on 19/01/2012

At the beginning of January, Nuffic (Netherlands organisation for international cooperation in higher education) published a comprehensive report on global international student recruitment practices: ‘International student recruitment: policies and developments in selected countries’

If you’re involved in international student recruitment and mobility, you’ve probably already seen the report as it’s made the rounds on Twitter, Facebook and StumbleUpon.  If not, I’d recommend reading through it.  Although the report was written in order to advise and inform Dutch institutions about competitor nations’ international student recruitment strategies, it’s a useful glimpse into current international student recruitment policies for everyone. 

The report examines the national recruitment policies of 11 top recruiting nations; in addition, it looks at the national student mobility policies of 14 target recruitment countries, ie. top sending countries.  In particular, I found the ‘main conclusions’ section worth reading, not only for the overview it gives, but also because it reinforces a number of conclusions I have drawn myself throughout this blog.  Quoted from the Nuffic report:

  • “The number of countries that are actively involved in international student recruitment has grown considerably….”
  • “More and more countries are competing for students from the same group of countries. The target countries of the relatively new recruiting countries are often within their own region, and are often the same as the main target recruitment countries of the big players in the global recruitment market….”
  • “The division between recruiting and target recruitment countries is blurring since several countries are key recruitment countries for other nations, while they are also actively recruiting foreign students themselves….”
  • “Global international student mobility flows are changing… with the economic and political balance of power shifting east, mobility patterns are beginning to change in this direction as well…the regionalisation of international student mobility is accelerating….”

One section of the report gave me pause, however, and I wondered where the authors got their information.  On page 30 they list the UK’s main target markets as “Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam” and secondary target markets as “Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the US.”  While I agree that most of those countries are target markets, I would probably swap a few around.  Some of those listed as secondary are surely (to my mind) primary targets and vice versa, ie. the USA, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Malaysia. 

If we look at the latest HESA stats (2009-10) at the top 10 non-EU sending countries to the UK, we see that the USA, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Malaysia are all listed, hence why I believe they are primary target markets (rather than secondary).  On the flip side, Brazil isn’t even in the top 30 sending students to the UK, so is it really a primary target market for many UK institutions?  If so, we aren’t doing very well.  I could be mistaken, and it would be good to get your thoughts.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Singapore Jobs March 19, 2012 at 8:46 am

This is a great article, Jessica. Thank you!


Jeffrey Wekesa March 8, 2012 at 10:11 am

I find your blog very informative with lots of interesting stuff…Im looking to start a student recruitment agency in Kenya and the lessons im getting from your blog are priceless…

Hope to learn more from you!


jguiver March 8, 2012 at 11:00 am

Thanks, Jeffrey! Much appreciated and glad you find the blog useful!


Chris February 1, 2012 at 7:37 am

Brazil delivering healthy numbers of students into UK English language colleges not higher education institutions. Many Brazilian university students spend Summer and Winter breaks in the UK on short term language programs. My recollection is that English UK stats had Brazil up there in terms of student weeks studied at UK language schools. The academic market in Brazil for degree programs in the UK is indeed very small.


jguiver February 1, 2012 at 9:05 am

Thanks, Chris.

You are right about the English language student numbers. I tend to forget about those, since I work in HE, but Brazil is a market for UK language schools. The stats on HESA that I used only look at students coming here for HE programmes, so I don’t have the English language stats (need to do a bit more digging for that!).


Rupert January 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Thanks for the link to this report, it’s a good ‘go-to’ reference guide.

I enjoyed this article today in The Guardian:


Perhaps it reflects (in a tongue in cheek way) the general conclusion of the NUFFIC report: increasing competition for the same students leading to a change in the institution/student relationship.


jguiver January 21, 2012 at 8:21 am

Thanks for that link, Rupert. Really good.
The student as consumer is the mentality now.
Thanks for reading the blog!


Andrew Fisher January 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm

At my last institution Brazil was certainly a key target market despite the very low level of recruitment we had achieved in the past. My VC spent about a day in-country for each student we had ever recruited – maybe more.

Can’t imagine what made him want to visit so much…
Andrew Fisher recently posted..HESA and the private providers (again)


jguiver January 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Thanks for that input, Andrew. You made me smile!
Brazil certainly has its attractions; perhaps it is a primary target market after all….


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