Vincenzo Raimo, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement) of the University of Reading, spoke to Hotcourses Group at the International Student Recruitment Forum (HCI Forum) about the future international recruitment landscape in UK higher education. He discusses the need for new data to inform recruitment strategy and thinking more commercially about how the sector communicates this strategy.
Hotcourses Group: What are the main challenges for international student recruitment in UK higher education?
VR: One of the things that struck me about the conference is that we’re still continuing mostly to talk to ourselves. It’s the same people from the same part of the sector and I think we’ve moved beyond that, but I think it’s a real challenge and danger for us.
I think those of us that have been involved in international activity for a long time, have really failed to capitalise on our positions and that came across today. Oddly, we’ve let the domestic recruiters who were 20 years behind us start running the show when actually we were dealing with tuition fees and variable tuition fees and the market 20 years ago and these things are all so new to the domestic marketers.
“We’ve let the domestic recruiters who were
20 years behind us start running the show”
Hotcourses Group: What can UK universities learn from today’s conference?
VR: What was really important for me from this event is the continued drive to give us market intelligence because I think there has been a tendency, particularly from people from the old days, like me, who made decisions when it was easy, when we were, as I said in my session, riding a wave. I think we don’t use enough intelligence to drive our decision making and that’s not just intelligence about the markets that we should be working in and how we achieve the success that we want, but importantly, the cost of that success and how we measure success.
“I think we don’t use enough intelligence
to drive our decision making”
I’m sorry to focus on mistakes we’ve made, but often when we’re overseas we talk about markets and what we’ve done to a degree is create an impression of UK higher education that’s only interested in one way traffic. Now that may be because it’s true, but even if it is true, we can’t afford to give that impression. I think it’s wrong because clearly we need to be engaged and we need two-way or multi-directional traffic if we want longer-term success. We need to think more commercially, but thinking more commercially means using the right language with the right people.
“We need two-way or multi-directional
traffic if we want longer-term success”
Hotcourses Group: What was your personal highlight of the HCI Forum?
VR: I think the event was useful and always getting some new intelligence is helpful. The data session was probably the most difficult session we had today and I’d like to dig deeper when I see the full report. The tool that we saw from Hotcourses, well, obviously I want to play with it! At first sight, it looks like a great addition to the armoury of intelligence that we now have available that we didn’t 20 years ago when I first got into this game.