“We’ve had an aggressive recruitment plan for the last four years, and we’re now at the point were it’s like a snowball,” says Shea, who joined FDU in 2000 and is now in his 27th year in international admissions. Shea’s position combines both graduate and international admissions, which is appropriate since approximately 80 percent of FDU’s international students are in graduate programs.
Many of FDU’s programs are very appealing to the international market. For example, the one-year MBA in management with a concentration in global business administration features an intensive full-time curriculum focused on global issues with small classes, a mix of domestic and international students, and workshops and networking with global professionals.
|“Our hospitality, computer, business and engineering programs in particular |
have strong reputations for excellence.”
Shea says two primary things drive a student’s choice of educational destinations: affordability and institutional reputation. To make FDU more affordable, the University is among the few that provide financial aid to these students. In addition to international student scholarships, in 2004, the Col. Fairleigh S. Dickinson Scholarship program included international student applicants, who typically come to the University as the top scholars from their areas.
FDU’s strong academic reputation further fuels interest. “Our hospitality, computer, business and engineering programs in particular have strong reputations for excellence,” Shea notes. And, the University’s large international population is seen as a confirmation of value by many abroad.
FDU is particularly attractive to students from certain areas. Currently, more than 50 percent of FDU international students hail from the Indian subcontinent (which includes India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh). The University has long been active in India, and the country has many students looking to study abroad.
Shea is hoping to expand the University’s recruiting emphasis to several other areas of the globe, particularly Korea, Thailand and Cyprus, where, he says, FDU has large alumni populations who can help recruitment efforts.
Today’s communication technology, particularly e-mail, has been a boon to international recruiters. “E-mail has dramatically changed our lives,” Shea says. “We’re constantly plugged in, answering e-mails in the morning, at night, whenever. It helps us connect quickly to students from around the world.”
Of course, e-mail is nothing without a dedicated staff. “This is the best and most professional team that I have been privileged to lead,” Shea says. “I consistently hear from new students that the reason they chose FDU is because of our recruiters, Barbara Heissenbuttel, Annique Petit and Heather Augar. Their decisions reflect on the relationships they have built with their recruiters.” (See “Diary of a ‘Super-Recruiter.’”)
These relationships extend beyond convincing prospective students to apply to the University. The international recruiters maintain contact with new students through the visa process as well.
New visa regulations, established after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, have proven particularly challenging. For example, in addition to undergoing rigorous security checks, each visa candidate must meet in person with a member of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This process entails a nonrefundable application fee, often a wait of several weeks or even months for the interview appointment, travel to a potentially far away office and long waits on line for the interview, which can last from three minutes to an hour.
The decreasing popularity of the United States around the world and the increased difficulty in acquiring visas to the United States have created an impression that America has become less welcoming to students from other countries than in previous times. “The anti-American hostility has grown, and that has changed our job dramatically,” reports Shea. “Before we had to sell the University; now we have to sell the country.”
Recently back from a recruiting trip to China, Shea acknowledges that, for the first time in more than two dozen years of recruiting, he has found himself competing with recruiters from other English-speaking countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom.