In the competitive landscape of international education, recruiting from the next generation of global leaders and innovators—Generation Z—is a strategic imperative for universities in English-speaking countries and global universities with English language programs. Gen Z, typically defined as including those born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s, represents a significant portion of the student body, and this group’s characteristics, values, and aspirations are unique. This generation is more diverse, digitally connected, and globally minded than any previous generation, and has a deep-seated commitment to making a difference and a preference for experiences over material possessions.

Understanding Your Audience and Communicating Effectively

To engage with Gen Z international students, you need to understand their communication preferences. This tech-savvy cohort gravitates towards platforms and mediums that provide quick, personalized, and visually engaging content. Social media is a powerful tool for networking and information gathering, so having a strong online presence is vital. Tailoring your messages to resonate with the global experiences and values of Gen Z—including diversity, inclusivity, and social impact—will go a long way with this audience.

Here at TOEFL, we rely heavily on social media to reach our Gen Z TOEFL Taker audience and utilize the power of influencers and first-person accounts to boost credibility. People from Gen Z want to see the experience of people they can relate to before they commit to taking the test.

Capturing Attention and Interest

Gen Z students are flooded with information, making it critical for universities to stand out. Authenticity is key—this generation is adept at recognizing brands that truly commit to their stated values and missions. Highlighting your unique study programs, hands-on learning opportunities, and a vibrant campus life can capture their interest. Incorporating testimonials from international students currently enrolled in your university can add a personal touch, especially if they represent varied cultures and backgrounds.

To make your institution stand out from the rest, make it a priority to understand the needs of Gen Z students and become a community resource to meet those needs. Data points from the Varkey Foundation’s Generation Z: Global Citizenship Survey shed light on some of core Gen Z beliefs and values.

  • Forty-two percent of Gen Z people around the world say that greater skills combined with more knowledge would help them make a bigger contribution to society.
  • Eighty-three percent believe that extremism and global terrorism are the greatest threat to the future, so promoting campus safety would go a long way with this demographic.
  • Eighty-four percent say they have faith in technology and that technical advancements make them hopeful for the future.
  • Eighty percent have faith in the power of education, saying that it is a source of hope that more people are being educated around the world.

TOEFL makes sure students know that the content of a TOEFL iBT test is intentionally designed to give them the best chance of success in their chosen programs and wherever they choose to go afterward to make a difference in the world.

Implementing Effective Recruitment Strategies

Personalization of the recruitment process is a wise strategy in today’s crowded recruitment landscape. Gen Z students appreciate it when universities take a genuine interest in their interests and aspirations. Streamlining application processes, offering scholarships tailored to different regions, and providing predeparture support can make the transition to studying abroad smoother and more enticing. Setting up local or virtual recruitment fairs can enable you to meet prospective students face-to-face, building trust and rapport.

Defining Your Brand for Global Appeal

Your university’s brand is your most powerful asset in attracting Gen Z international students. You want to position yourself as a hub for innovation, research, and cultural exchange. The brand should reflect a commitment to sustainability, ethical practices, and a supportive community, as these values align closely with those of Gen Z. Brand storytelling through multimedia content can illustrate the unique student experiences and the positive impact of your university on the world stage.

The Bottom Line

By employing these strategies, you can not only attract Gen Z international students but also inspire and empower them to make a meaningful, global impact. The investment in understanding and engaging this generation will not only enrich your student body but also contribute to your legacy of producing leaders who will shape the future.