Innovative Recruitment Tools in Higher Ed

innovative student recruitment techniques

It can be difficult to stand out when so many schools offer the same programs and similar tuition fees. With competition for recruiting students at an all-time high, universities and colleges are thinking up innovative ways to market their institutions. Take a look at these unique recruiting campaigns that schools are doing in order to win over prospective students.

Hot Deals on Student Tuition!


Groupon college

With tuition costs skyrocketing around the country, some institutions are offering discounts to appeal to penny-pinched prospective students. The University of New Haven’s business school has offered incoming students free tuition ($120 000 value) if they have the next great entrepreneurial idea. The campaigns comes from a former corporate executive at MasterCard and now UNH dean, once responsible for the infamous “Priceless” advertising campaign. UNH recognized that in order to lure talented students from nearby higher-profile schools such as Yale, they need to market their school in an unorthodox way. Other contest prizes include iPads and $250 gift cards to the university’s bookstore.

“We have to zig where other schools zag and to find different ways of positioning ourselves,” Larry Flanagan, UNH business dean

Another unique idea includes the University of Iowa awarding a full-tuition package to an MBA applicant that tweets (in less than 140 characters of course) the most creative answer to the question: “What makes you an exceptional MBA candidate?” The school explains that since social media is a driving force in today’s business world, they see the contest as the best way for a business student to set themselves apart.

Last fall, National Louis University jumped on the Groupon bandwagon and became the first academic institution to offer a promotion on the daily deal website. The Groupon was good for a three-credit “Introduction to Teaching” course and could be applied towards earning a graduate degree. 18 students bought the deal for $950, while tuition for the course normally costs $2300. Not only did the promotion attract 18 new students for the university, but the publicity they got from the promotion translated into a 40% increase in visits to their website that day.

Hotels on Campus

The BBC has an article about how some UK universities are spending millions on student accommodation in order to attract more students. Officials say that students are now expecting a better quality student experience, which includes their dorm rooms, in order to justify the rising tuition fees. A third of institutions in the UK are considering large projects such as constructing hotels on campus while two-thirds are planning to improve facilities for postgraduate and overseas students, the most lucrative target groups for universities.

University of Ulster hotel

The University of Ulster's £250m scheme to attract students

Free iPads!

Not only is the iPad the fastest-selling tech device in history but it’s also really popular among college students. It should come as no surprise that hundreds of schools are beginning to offer it to incoming students. The tablet reader helps students save money on textbooks and the university can market itself as being on the cutting-edge of technology. It just might be enough to push some technology-obsessed millennials to choosing one institution over another.

iPad for universities

Green Projects

An article in eCampus News tells the story of how Eastern Illinois University, known for its coal-burning plant on campus, turned its reputation around and became an environmentally-friendly school. The old fossil fuel power station drew considerable scrutiny from the public and was found to be a deterrent to prospective students. Seeking to appeal to the Gen-Y eco-conscious student, EIU committed to building one of the largest biomass installations in the United States. With nearly 7 out of 10 students saying they factor in a college’s environmental practices when deciding on a school to attend, Eastern Illinois admits that the renewable energy centre is a recruitment play more than anything else.

4 Comments on "Innovative Recruitment Tools in Higher Ed"

  1. The University of New Haven’s business school offer to incoming students for the next great entrepreneurial idea is a great technique with potential to become a retention strategy as well. I believe retention and recruitment strategies should work together. Talented students are in every region of the world. Many of those students are first time students. Entrepreneurial ideas help students become more engaged in the learning process. As students develop entrepreneurial ideas they become more engaged in something they are passionate about. The strategy is instrumental in both recruiting and retaining students until successful completion of their program of study.

  2. E Caballero says:

    I’ve been overwhelmed with new techniques or strategies of recruitment, which are using universities around the world to attract students. WOW! Hopefully at the university where I work, we may use one of these strategies to attract new students. The reality is that every day we lose students because we are not using the right promotion of and attractive to prospective students. In fact, what convinced me to go to university where I am currently doing my Ed.D was considered fairly discount on the cost of the credits. This was one of the reasons for accepting my admission to the university.
    But while all these strategies seem like we’re shopping around for students for them to enter to our universities. What you think?

    • Genius Recruiter says:(Author)

      Hi E Caballero,

      Some people might call these strategies “desperate” rather than “innovative.” Most universities probably wouldn’t do something as drastic as offering a groupon on tuition since it would lead to diluting their brand. Discounting student fees is risky since it may just lead to a “race to the bottom” with other schools. But a strategy that encourages students to think of a new entrepreneurial idea that can impact the world is a great idea! Also, anything that utilizes technology will likely appeal more to students.

  3. Elina Caballero says:

    Definitely everything that involves technology today makes things more attractive. And more to the generation of students is increasing every day that are completely technology.

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