International student recruitment driving online strategies at two thirds of higher education institutions worldwide

TERMINALFOUR today announced results of global research which found that almost two thirds (65%) of those surveyed said that their institutions have a dedicated international website to attract students from outside their own country.

The results revealed a distinct divide between the UK and US when it came to focused international student recruitment with 58% of the UK respondents saying they have a dedicated international site in place as opposed to only 27% from the US.

Of those who have an international website, only 18% are using Google Translate to convert their content into multiple languages.

The research was completed online in July 2014 with the aim of exploring the evolving role of the web, social media and performance metrics in higher education. A total of 248 marketing, IT and senior management representatives from 169 higher education institutions around the world took part in the survey. The majority of the respondents came from the UK and the US with the remainder from Australia, Canada, Ireland and South Africa.

More than half (53%) of the universities and colleges have implemented dedicated international social media accounts while 35% have an active presence on geographical social media channels. Of those institutes who have created dedicated international social media channels, 60% are from the UK compared to only 25% from the US.

Mobile platforms are also playing an increasingly important role in international student recruitment and 43% of those surveyed have a responsive design in place that will adapt the layout of their website, depending on the device being used to view it. A further 40% of respondents are in the process of developing responsive design sites to better facilitate their vast audiences.

Commenting on the research, Piero Tintori, CEO, TERMINALFOUR said, “Colleges and universities are operating in fiercely competitive markets, as they seek to increase international student enrollment. From this research we can see that higher education institutions have begun to realize this, but UK institutions have been quicker than the US to corner the market.

“This could be as a result of new student visa reforms in the UK which is forcing these universities and colleges to implement student recruitment campaigns that differentiate them amongst the global student audience. In 2013, the number of international students enrolling in universities in England decreased for the first time in 29 years.*

“However, overall student enrollment also decreased in the US in 2013 as high school class numbers decreased.** As the number of students entering higher education declines, it will be increasingly important for institutions to step up online marketing to recruit students from outside their borders and prevent empty seats on courses.

“Markets such as Malaysia, Spain and Russia are increasing the number of international students entering their universities and creating even more competition. Having an international presence online isn’t simply about translating your website into multiple languages. You need to provide relevant immigration details, housing information and first hand interaction with current and past students in relation to life on campus and employment prospects. Demonstrating your institutes leading educational position, along with the supports offered to students will attract, not only the students themselves, but also their parents and potential employers.”

Piero Tintori, concluded, “International student recruitment is of vital importance to the growth and stability of the higher education market. Institutions need to invest time and resources into building an online brand that is recognized at a global level.”

The full TERMINALFOUR Higher Education Web Survey is available for download from:


* Kandiko Howson, C. (2014) ‘Drop in foreign student numbers: are UK universities too complacent?’ The Guardian. 04 April. Available at [Accessed 16 September 2014]
** National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. (2013) Current term enrollement estimates. Available at: [Accessed 16 September 2014]