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Europe v US: The Fight for Students

There’s nothing we love more than a thought provoking article about higher education; in particular those that raise questions that may cause US University recruitment teams to have nightmares.  A recent article on CNN Money posed one of those questions recently and already we can hear alarm bells.  Are Americans fleeing to Europe? This isn’t anything to do with the possibility of a President Trump (although we do expect the Airline Industry to profit heavily from such a prospect) but rather the allure of free education.

In the midst of a US Presidential election were education reform and student debt form the basis of several of the candidates’ election platforms this article poses a question that is both timely and contentious.   The article references several key factors for the allure of European Institutions: Cost – free in some European countries e.g. Germany, Norway and Finland or significantly cheaper than in the US in countries like the UK, Ireland etc.; Time – some degrees can be earned in 3 years in Europe against 4 years in the US; Opportunity – To learn a new language, travel and gain global perspective.

But is Europe the panacea?  When you do a cost-benefit-analysis is it really cheaper abroad when you consider things like accommodation and health cover in Europe and education grants available in the US. Are European qualifications recognized or at least awarded the same kudos as their US counterparts (In the US at least).  Will graduates holding these degrees struggle to get graduate placement or employment? Although, this is a challenge that students with US qualifications also struggle with - if we’re going to be objective about it.

Ultimately, the choice of University or College is a hugely individual one.  One’s personal circumstances (financial, family commitments), one’s life experience expectations and career goals all make this choice a deeply individual and unique choice.

However, this article does a great job at highlighting one undisputable fact and that is that the competition for freshman students is continuing to go global. US university marketing and recruitment teams are no longer only competing against their domestic competition, they are competing against well organized and mission focused institutions from Europe and Asia.  These 16-18 year students are a hot commodity and on the wish list of hundreds of non-US University target lists.

This brings many questions to the fore for University and College recruitment teams.  How well do you know your new competition?  You may know how to compete against a rival in another state but do you have a game-plan for European Universities that offer a whole new set of benefits to students.  When targeting students are you clear on the financial scorecard between your University and an international equivalent?  Can you prove the economic benefit of ‘choosing you’?  Is your digital marketing and online user experience giving you the competitive edge against your international rivals?

It’s a great article and certainly one that will generate lots of conversation.  Although, it does suggest that students outside the US live like monks – “You won't find frat parties, sorority houses, or football games overseas” - I’m pretty sure college parties aren’t exclusive to the US; those Europeans know how to party.

We’d love to hear how your university or college is tackling this migration challenge.  Let us know in the comments below.

Read the full CNN Money article here.   

Tagged: Recruitment , Students , HE Challenges

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