We spoke with Matt Jansen, the Head of International Student Recruitment. Matt joined the team of Corvinus University of Budapest in September last year and despite his young age, he already has nine years of experience in student recruitment. After graduating from the University of Leeds, he worked at the London School of Business and Management, which later changed its name to the Bloomsbury Institute London, and from there he came to Corvinus.
Matt Jansen said that Corvinus currently has 16 per cent international students, which is high for the region as a whole. This is partly thanks to the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship, which allows students from 80 countries outside the EU to come to Hungary, and Corvinus is particularly popular with students from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America.
Facebook ads instead of partnerships
Recruiting foreign students is a key element of Corvinus’ internationalisation strategy. The university aims to increase the proportion of international students on campus to 20-25 percent by 2025, but it’s far from being a case of just wanting to boost the statistical indicators. Rather, the aim is to gradually change the composition of the international student body coming to Corvinus in order to promote diversity and attract more students from neighbouring countries.
“We want to attract the best students from Central and Eastern Europe, and we need to build a strategy to do that,” said Matt Jansen, and then explained the steps needed to achieve this. We have recently assessed the market and concluded that we first need to raise awareness of the Corvinus brand in the Czech Republic, Poland or even Croatia. We could spend a lot of money on digital marketing, but until we’ve established our brand awareness, it wouldn’t make sense, Matt states.
Instead of Facebook ads, they would build partnerships with top secondary schools in the country first. Fifty of the best high schools in five countries will be contacted and offered scholarship places at Corvinus. “We want to start collaborations that can benefit both parties. Our lecturers could give lectures, we could appear on their platforms, while the best students could continue their studies at Corvinus with a scholarship,” Matt explained how he envisages working with schools. They would like to target the entire Central and Eastern European region, but would particularly like to partner with secondary schools in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland and Serbia.
Simpler application required
Applications from international students have increased significantly compared to last year, thanks to the communications team’s campaign abroad and the start of a simplified admissions process. This year we have seen an 8-fold increase in the number of applicants, which could mean that up to 500-600 foreign students could start their studies at Corvinus in the autumn.
Matt Jansen believes that infrastructure improvements are essential to attract more foreign students to the university. Applying to a Hungarian university as a foreigner is much more complicated than applying to an American institution, which is why we want to simplify the process considerably. The highly talented students we want to attract to Budapest expect excellent customer service and infrastructure, both of which we need to improve, as Matt Jansen put it.
The application form should be as simple as possible to fill in, the admission criteria should be as clear as possible, and the university should provide fast, efficient, understandable and problem-solving answers to customer service. If all this is achieved, the university’s objective of gradually increasing the number of foreign students and attracting the most talented Central and Eastern European students to Budapest can be met.
Cheap, beautiful and liveable city
In Matt’s view, it is definitely worth building on Budapest’s reputation and assets, as many international students look for a city exactly like Budapest when they want to study abroad: “Compared to Western price levels, housing is cheaper, there are plenty of good quality restaurants and catering outlets, the active social life can be tempting, and the university gives you a degree that makes it easy to enter the labour market.”
In addition to the above, the increasing number of English-language courses and innovative specialisations can also be an interesting attraction.
Matt said that competition for good students is expected to be fierce in the coming years, highlighting the business universities of Zagreb, Ljubljana and Warsaw, as well as ELTE’s economics courses, as rivals to Corvinus, therefore Corvinus should continue to raise its educational standards in the coming years and establish its international profile. According to him, if the institution implements the jointly developed strategy, the number of foreign students will increase every year.