Partnership with Recruiting Journal Raising EKU's Profile in Japan

More and more Japanese teens are learning about Eastern Kentucky University, thanks to a new partnership with a prominent recruiting publication in the island nation.

The University’s Office of International Education has partnered with the Ryugaku Journal, which reaches more than 50,000 high school students through its print publication and web site. The Journal regularly spotlights EKU academic programs it believes may be of particular interest to its readers.

“It gives us access to students we otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach and helps us to gauge the Japanese market,” Director Bill Holmes said. “We have a lot of opportunities here that simply need to be promoted more. The journal assigned one person whose job it is to get to know everything about EKU in order to promote us. The journal tracks who’s looking, and we can then follow up with the students.”

Often, the voice that Japanese students and parents hear at EKU’s end is that of Japan native Fumi Cheever, international student coordinator in the Office of International Education. She also is a valuable presence at such events as the Ryugaku Journal’s fair and the Education USA information fairs, which are also used to reach students in other countries, “lead to many inquiries afterward and are great for getting a name known abroad.”

Because of a large Japanese presence in Kentucky through Toyota and other companies, Kentucky is well known in Japan. “We don’t have to sell Kentucky,” Holmes said. “We have a history there.”

Eastern’s selling point is “a completely unique experience,” Holmes said. “We have to be able to define what the Eastern Experience is. What does it mean to be a Colonel?”

Many of the Japanese students who earn a degree at EKU return home to pursue a career. “They’re looking to get a degree abroad that will give them a leg up back home.”

The contract with the Ryugaku Journal, Holmes said, is only part of a much broader strategy to raise EKU’s worldwide profile and attract more international students, a strategy bolstered recently by a $100,000 commitment from EKU President Michael Benson for scholarships.

Officials also make occasional visits to Japan and other countries, and an International Education Committee has begun work on a comprehensive strategic plan directed at attracting far greater numbers of international students, raising global awareness, expanding the Study Abroad program and increasing faculty exchanges. “The Committee’s task is not to determine what we want to look like today, but what we want to look like as a university 10 years from now,” Holmes said.

Published on March 06, 2014