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Recruiting and retaining international students during Covid and beyond

Realistically, at the onset of 2020, not many in the higher education sector had projected that this was what this transformational year would look like.

Lessons to be learned from the pandemic are yet to be determined, says Bestway Education Group. Photo: Unsplash

"Leaders in international recruitment are being confronted with a scenario in which resources are limited"

As the Covid-19 pandemic was sweeping the world this spring, we were watching campuses close and a sudden halt to international travel was obligatory. Meanwhile, institutions were focusing on the immediate challenges and only a few were fully primed to deal with the consequences.

“Recent months have seen indications of resuming stability”

When Abhiruchi joined Bestway Education Group, a network of cosmopolitan colleges headquartered in North America as its Recruitment Manager – MEA & Pakistan last September, she had an ambitious plan to jump-start international recruitment and my first overseas trip was in February — just weeks before, in our words, “the world shut down”.

Although it is imperative that history does not repeat itself, we were experiencing something familiar. It was not the first time a major disruption, such as September 11, 2001, had impacted the mobility of international student communities. As with past experiences, we assumed that this influence can be transitory.

Leaders in international recruitment are being confronted with a scenario in which resources are limited and where many of the conventional methods of recruiting and enrolment — primarily attending international events — have been adversely, if not entirely, constrained.

However, the recent months have seen indications of resuming stability. While some institutions were able to resurrect their campuses, others have at least been able to acclimatise and turn to online/hybrid learning models to continue delivering classes.

At BWEG, we acknowledge that online learning is here to stay and were able to adapt to the ‘new normal’ much faster than others, with one of our schools becoming the one of the first institutions in Quebec to go completely online.

Understanding the gravity of the impact on international students, we also offered free Dell laptops and Wi-Fi devices to more than 450 students across the South Asian continent to encourage them to embark on their new journeys.

For BWEG, our students are our number one priority. Hence, to ensure the best for our students we organised online classes so Indian students could attend e-classes – organised by their Canadian faculties – in the IST time zone.

Still, institutions are struggling to build master plans to bring students to campus. Knowing when international travel restrictions and the requirement for quarantine will be removed is unforeseeable.

Meanwhile, at BWEG approximately 370 students in metropolitans such as Montreal, Sherbrooke and Longueuil in Quebec  successfully completed self isolation offered across our institutions completely at no additional cost.

BWEG is in support of its students right from the moment they land – we meet and greet them at the airport, transfer them to various hotel apartments where meals, grocery and sanitisation kits are provided.

Upon successful quarantine completion, students are moved to a two-month free accommodation where they can kick-start their Canadian dreams. All this is difficult to comprehend and its impact on recruitment, admissions, and marketing for schools in the coming years is still to be analysed.

“We offered free Dell laptops and Wi-Fi devices to more than 450 students”

In many ways, the crisis has rather acted as a wake-up call for schools, a reminder that even the best laid plans can be disrupted by circumstances far beyond their control.

There are many lessons can be learned from the pandemic which will eventually shift the education sector for the better and those in the field will be more cautious and diligent in their forthcomings.

About the authors:

Rohit Uppal – Vice President at Bestway Education Group (A highly result driven, energetic and passionate edupreneur with over 10 years of experience in developing strategic business partnerships and ecosystem in Canadian Higher Education sector)

 

 

 

 

 

Abhiruchi Abrol – Recruitment Manager at Bestway Education Group (Experienced professional with experience in successfully conducting marketing, sales and business development activities throughout South Asia, Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and Europe.)

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One Response to Recruiting and retaining international students during Covid and beyond

  1. Wow that is a great achievement. Handling such large number of students and supporting and taking care of them at this time of uncertainty is a great task.

    All the very best..

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