Purpose: The purpose of this study is to understand and accentuate the value of social media in international student recruitment in Lebanese higher education institutions (HEIs). This study analyses the significance of social media and the changes occurring in the means of communicating with the potential international students, with an aim to understand how the HEIs could adapt with the changes to implement a model of engagement to include social media as a fundamental constituent of the Lebanese HEIs’ international student recruitment strategy. Design/methodology/approach: The researchers carried out a study through quantitative descriptive approach by using a probabilistic simple random sample and a self-administered questionnaire on 230 international students from several universities and colleges in Lebanon as a data collection method. Findings: The findings demonstrated a certain level of engagement in social media networks from the part of the students during their search for college or university and course information. Research showed that international students still prefer the traditional sources, apart from social media, during their search. Among traditional media sources, friend, family and university website were the highest in ranking. Among social media sources, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube showed the highest ranks. Most students have, indeed, contacted a friend or a university staff for university course information by using social media sites. Practical implications: For managerial practice, this is an incentive for institutions of higher education to re-evaluate and assess the effective impact of social media on the recruitment of international students and to regulate their social media marketing strategies. For research in international education, the insights of this study are useful to explore further research avenues in the area of capacity building for business innovation, marketing and quality assurance in higher education in the cross-cultural context. Originality/value: This study offers insights on the implications of social media for international student recruitment strategies in a particular Lebanese context of HEIs.
- Higher education institutions
- International student
- International student recruitment
- Middle East
- Social media