Building an IEM Strategic Plan: Questions to Ask Before you Begin!

November 16, 2009 By: Evelyn Levinson, American University, 2009 IEM Chair Elect

Dear fellow IEM'er:

Do any of the following resonate with you?

  1. You have just been hired by an institution of higher learning to increase the number of international student attendees. You're not sure of exact goals or resources, but your timeline is tight…

  2. You've been at your institution for a number of years and work with international students – perhaps in education abroad, student support services, as a faculty member, an experienced credentials evaluator, or similar. However, you have not directly been involved in international marketing, recruitment, admissions, or enrollment management.

    Your supervisor has determined that YOU are now the best campus resource to help develop strategies to increase or diversify international enrollment – and FAST.

  3. Your institution is new to internationalization and would like you to develop a three-year plan to successfully get it on the international recruitment map.

    Where do you start? What do you need to do to develop an international enrollment management plan that will successfully and realistically integrate and reflect your institution's vision, strengths, resources, and goals?

Top 5 Key Questions to Ask Before Launching an IEM Strategic Plan

Who is your target audience?
  • ESL
  • Undergraduate
  • Transfer
  • Graduate
  • International applicants currently not living or studying in your country, or those who already are studying in your area?
  • Specific priority geographic regions
  • Students for particular programs at your institution
  • All or a mix of these
Who are your campus allies/potential partners to share your vision and help you accomplish institutional goals?
What other resources do you have access to within and outside of your institution?
Why do you wish or need to develop an IEM plan?
What type of institution do you work within?
  • Public/State
  • Private
  • Urban
  • Rural
  • Professional school
  • Community College
  • Intensive English program
Where do you work within your institution and what is your organizational chart?
What do you consider your institution's strengths and/or possible weaknesses?
What professional accreditation/s does your institution hold?
What is your office (or institutional) goals?
What is your budget?
What is your staffing situation?
Are your goals, budget, and staffing aligned and realistic?
What are your current international admissions' policies? Are they in sync with the latest trends for students from around the world seeking bachelors and graduate degrees at your institution?
What regional preferences or strong international alumni connections does your institution have?
What (if any) funding is available for merit, cost share, or other awards for non-U.S. citizens you are trying to attract to your institution? [same q as above]
If you work in the U.S., what cost share can your institution offer to attract Fulbright, Ford International, and other sponsored program top students?
What marketing and informational materials (electronic/hard copy) exist for your potential international market?
What admissions processes are in place to support the implementation of your IEM?
What tools besides overseas travel may you be able to implement to achieve the activities and goals reflected in your IEM?
When do you wish to begin implementing your IEM plan and for how long?
Optimal 'best time' is when the institutional goals, resources, staffing, admissions' policies, support infrastructure, and buy-in from key constituencies at your institution ALL align to support and help implement your IEM plan. A safe approach may be to introduce your IEM as a pilot project if some of these elements are currently missing.
How does your IEM plan fit into your institution's overall internationalization plan?
How does your institution measure or define 'international'?
How can you prioritize your IEM efforts given the goals and resources you have at hand?
How will you measure these efforts?
How and to whom will you report these efforts?

Additional Resources

Sample IEM Three-Year Strategic Plan Template (20kb Excel)