As Jennifer Melton, Chair of Study Illinois (SI) o, puts it, “I believe that in the world of international student recruitment, schools are seeing the benefit of pooling resources and leaning on the expertise of [industry peers] in the field.”
Formed to promote the state as a study abroad destination, she explains that all member schools are different in terms of their recruitment budgets, expertise and international student services. Thus, “If one school is interested in breaking into a new market abroad, a fellow SI member will.share their experience,” she says. “If one school is short-staffed and cannot recruit abroad actively, then our website and the International Student Transfer Conference and College Fair become cost-effective opportunities for them,” she adds. The event, in its third year, provides a platform for overseas students at Illinois-based ESL schools and community colleges to learn about the benefits of transferring to a four-year college or university in the state. “There is a diversity of options... from small, private liberal arts schools to large research institutions,” she explains.
To become a member of SI, schools must have some form of accreditation, and those without can apply for associate membership. Members also need to pay a fee in order to fund operations. Similarly, member schools of Study Texas www.studytexas.us need to be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (Sacs), according to Greg Thompson at the North Texas Export Assistance Center. Officially launched in 2008 but running trade missions before then, the consortium will run a mission to Colombia in November, which all accredited HE institutions within the state can attend to meet with local high school students and counsellors. Adding that the organisation also hosted a breakfast reception at Nafsa this year to showcase the diversity of member schools to EducationUSA advisers, Thompson adds that members have increased since the organisation’s inception.
Study Minnesota is an even newer consortium that launched in spring 2013. “Our member numbers have steadily increased since our inception, and we think this is because there has previously been an unmet need for our Minnesotan educational institutions to practise more collaboration in their overseas recruitment efforts,” reveals Christina Hilpipre-Frischman, Chair of the consortium. “We will soon be launching our website that will highlight the state of Minnesota as well as all of our member institutions, and we have plans to create printed materials, participate in virtual education fairs and possibly organise group recruitment travel.”
Study Oregon, meanwhile, is a bit older. Having launched in the spring of 1999, it has since grown from 16 to 32 member schools across the state, also with support (not financial) from the US Commercial Service, according to Chris Anderson, Past Chair. Providing impetus for consortiums that haven’t been around as long as Study Oregon, he says, “We believe the numbers have grown due to successful efforts at reaching our mission: there is increasing recognition of Oregon as a destination, and the opportunities for professional development are strong.” With some of the marketing efforts including the development of an e-brochure that was sent to partners and advisers worldwide, he asserts that “this is just a small sample of some of the efforts. Each has had success, and each has had challenges.”
Regarding agent usage, Anderson explains that Study Oregon advises agents to contact the member schools individually. Study Texas, meanwhile, lists all the member schools that work with agents on the consortium’s website, while Study Minnesota allows agents to become associate members. Study West Virginia, receiving funding from the government rather than members, is planning on working with the Association of International Recruitment (AIRC) to develop practises for agent-based recruitment for members of the consortium to employ, according to Clark Egnor, Chair, who recently gave up his position at Marshall University to manage the consortium full-time. Explaining that the university joined forces with Into University Partnerships last year to utilise agents as a primary method of recruitment, he says, “I am optimistic that we will see more universities in West Virginia using agent-based methods to increase their international student recruitment in the future. Initially, I plan to work with each university individually to help them develop an international recruitment plan as part of their overall strategy for comprehensive internationalisation.” firstname.lastname@example.org
When tertiary institutions market programmes internationally as part of a joint state initiative, is there a danger that some members will compete with each other to recruit international students, rather than work together for the greater good? “Absolutely not in Study Texas,” comments Greg Thompson, Senior International Trade Specialist for the North Texas Export Assistance Center. “The camaraderie is really remarkable people are constantly pushing leads for partners to other members that they might not generally interact with if it were not for the consortium.” Jennifer Melton from Study Illinois is in agreement, commenting, “The general opinion is that there are enough students to go around.”
Chris Anderson, Past Chair of Study Oregon, explains, “There isn’t necessarily a rift between two or three universities trying to grab hold of the institution... The mission and direction of the consortium is clear: we want to promote the state of Oregon. If we do this appropriately, all of our institutions will benefit.” Clark Egnor, Chair of Study West Virginia, however, recognises that while study consortiums bring members a multitude of benefits, their primary focus is with their individual schools. Therefore, Egnor was recently hired as Director of International Programs for the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC), which houses the consortium administratively, partly so that the organisation could be managed by a neutral party. Egnor was previously the State Director of International Programs at Marshall University in Huntington, WV.