In 2020, the International Student Survey (ISS) carried out a survey of over 78000 international students in 16 different countries. The survey revealed that multiple factors influence how foreign students choose where to study.

While the survey was carried out before the pandemic was in full swing, it still offers critical insights into what goes on in the minds of international students.

In this article, I will be examining what things students look out for in a school and how schools can better position themselves to attract more students.

How do students get information concerning education?

The survey carried out by the ISS revealed that students get most of their information about a school from its websites. About 76% of respondents indicated that school websites are among their favourite sources of information. In addition, 60% indicated that they get their information from general online searches, and 46% indicated that they use school rankings to find out information.

The survey also researched the kind of information that international students place a priority on. It found that

  • 57% of international students place significant value on information about accommodation. They want to know where they will be living and its proximity to the campus. Students also want information on what the living conditions will be like.
  • 47% of international students want testimonials and stories from previous students. However, 57% would rather have seniors they can talk to and ask questions from.
  • 55% of students would also like information about work placements. This information is vital as international students are now more focused on their work opportunities in their host country.

If you can provide this critical information, you will build a more robust impression about your school in the minds of aspiring international students. Remember, transparency is important, and providing excellent communication channels will go a long way in spreading information about your school and its local community.

The role of social media and online videos

The ISS survey found that four out of five aspiring international students will use social media to get information about desired universities. However, its presence is most significant during the initial part of the application stage. It is therefore essential to adjust your social media content accordingly.

The most popular social media is still Facebook. About 67% of international students use it for research. However, 55%  use YouTube for their research, while 49% use Instagram. All these indicate the importance of creating visual content. If you fail to leverage visual content, you miss out on a critical channel for reaching out to foreign students.

How do international students choose a destination?

According to the data from the ISS survey, students make their final decisions about a destination based on the following;

  • Their field of study
  • Their preferred country to study in
  • The schools they would like to apply to

Most international students are intentional about their field of study. They are motivated mainly by the results and rewards they can reap from studying in a particular field. Therefore, making sure that your school delivers in this area plays a significant role in attracting them.

For most international students, the three deciding factors when choosing a destination are

  • How welcoming the country and the school is to foreign students
  • The quality of teaching offered by the school
  • How affordable it is to study in a particular school.


As every school is competing for more students post-pandemic, institutions must implement newer marketing strategies to attract international students.

It is crucial that you

  • Encourage past and present students to share their experience
  • Use visual content as part of your communication strategy
  • Showcase the work opportunities available for international students who opt to study with your school.

Most importantly, never forget to promote how safe and welcoming your school and country are.



Ready to start your application?