CBS’ international student recruitment carved up and redistributed

Skrevet af Chris Day - Foto: IM&R - 3. februar 2011 - 11:000 kommentarer
CBS-president Johan Roos congratulates full degree international alumni at CBS' first ever joint international graduation event in 2010, arranged and hosted by IMR.

As the combined organisational restructuring and staff reductions begin to carve their way through CBS’ administration, personnel, job functions and team units find themselves being re-evaluated in terms of their cost and effectiveness. For many of CBS’ administrative employees, this means reassessment, leading to re-employment at best and removal at worst. CBS’ fairly new International Marketing and Recruitment (IMR) team is hanging in the balance as one example of what is happening and how things are being done.

Strategic focus unit dissolved after just over a year of operations
Just over a year ago, the International Marketing and Recruitment (IMR) team was unveiled. Its task was to push through CBS’ central strategy of increased internationalisation by recruiting fee-paying full degree international students from outside of the EU, upping their count across the school. Interaction with full time students from other cultures was trumpeted as being crucial to the betterment of both the diverse life of CBS and the development of indigenous students. International students were said to increase both the multicultural scope of the school and its global profile.

With this in mind, IMR set about the daunting recruitment task through a three pronged approach: 1) Creating a marketing strategy to raise awareness of the school to the non-EU target group. 2) Converting applicants into actual students by making sure that those who applied were given special help and encouragement and quick response to all of their queries. 3) Creating an international social life and ‘aftercare service’ for current students to increase the chances of ‘word of mouth’ recruitment when they return to their own lands. 

Whilst it is still too early to calculate in terms of an increase of applicants the effectiveness of their efforts, the answers will now never be known. IMR has been cut as a part of CBS’ efforts to restructure and slim down the school’s administration. What this means for the international student recruitment strategy and the functions the unit was undertaking remains to be seen.

The IMR-team may be gone, but the task and focus still remain
Janie Huus Tange, the former head of IMR remains positive that despite reorganisation and the unit being dissolved, the task of recruiting international students from outside the EU will still be both possible and upheld by CBS. She explains that in the present climate of cost cutting, it was hard to justify the existence of a standalone unit such as IMR:

- I’m sure CBS’ management will not stop this initiative. We just need to find out how to do it best in these hard times we are having. We are under pressure to do things right and need to reorganise to make sure the right people are doing the right things, Janie Huus Tange says.

As the reorganisation stands, the job of converting applicants into students is now to be conducted by CBS’ Admissions Office and the Study Guidance Counsellors. They are given the task of making sure that interested students do not back away from CBS because they have been given sufficiently timely and informative answers to their questions. The ‘aftercare’ service is now to be offered by a joint International Office and Study Secretariat effort. The initial strategic marketing will be conducted by the Communications Department in conjunction with CBS marketing as a whole.

- International recruitment cannot be done by one unit. We have to be better at working in cross functional teams, Janie Huus Tange, whose own future is unresolved, explains.

The ground-work, intelligence, methods and tools in place
Despite the short lived life of IMR, Janie Huus Tange looks back with some satisfaction at the unit’s successes.

- We provided the foundation for the work. We have all the intelligence we need, we know what the problems are, and we know what the fixes can be. I’m positive that CBS has a continued interest in recruiting globally. It’s just a matter of how we do it, she says.

The ‘aftercare’ activities of the team have also had a big impact on the lives of present international students. They have been able to create and enjoy a support network through such IMR fostered initiatives as ‘i-students’, the International Ambassadors and the International Student Guides. Indeed it is the after recruitment services role that Janie’s own MBA-thesis research showed is so important.

- We know we made an impact on the students that are here. They constantly ask how they can help us. Word of mouth is so important. If we don’t provide basic services, we can’t market this word of mouth. Luckily most students will remain happy due to the Study Secretaries, Janie Huus Tange points out.

The biggest challenge is the application to admissions stage
Despite the appearance that IMR’s functions might be comfortably absorbed in the reorganisation, a big question remains over the ‘initial leads conversion’ stage. Giving this role to an already very busy Admissions Office may be more than just a challenge in reality.

- The only way they can do this is if they get more people. The work we are looking at now is from the application to the admission stage. We have to fix the last leg of the recruitment phase, and the only way we can do this is if CBS’ ensures the financial and staff resources to handle the work involved. You can’t go to the market if you don’t have the people to answer the phone, Janie Huus Tange points out.

IMR being carved away may not be the end of CBS’ international student recruitment strategy – as long as the new, leaner CBS administration retains the ability and secures the resources to absorb the tasks and carry on the fight.