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LiveAlumni Newsfeed: Where Are Your Alumni Going?

LiveAlumni expert Vanessa Carbonell – who has conducted over 150 training sessions with our higher education clients over the past couple of months – has noticed a pattern during her training sessions: colleges and universities and often surprised to find that more and more of their alumni are living abroad.

From small to big, east to west, all colleges and universities have alumni overseas. Connecting with these alumni is crucial to your institution’s development and can have a lasting impact on your alumni who live abroad.

John Arboleda’s opinion in the Financial Times stated, “I have experienced first hand how alumni overseas can help to build and shape a school’s global brand. Whether it is contributing to international admissions and recruiting efforts, developing corporate partnerships, competing in the rankings or entering new markets – alumni who are based overseas will be a school’s best resource.”

LiveAlumni Begins Tracking Migrating Alumni

After finding an overwhelming interest in where alumni are migrating to, LiveAlumni’s Research Team decided to dig deeper and track four universities’ alumni living abroad. LiveAlumni’s Director Tatia Zuloaga said, “It is pretty exciting that we can help any school do this and within a matter of seconds. Nobody can do this faster than us and with real-time accurate data”. While the results seem similar for some schools, each university had their own unique dataset with the top 5 countries their alumni are living in and interestingly enough all top 5 countries were different for each school.

Location, Location, Location

LiveAlumni’s Research Team took a closer look at four universities across the United States – University of Georgia (UGA), San Francisco State University (SFSU), Northeastern University (NEU) and Iowa State University (Iowa). The team ultimately decided to divide the United States into corners and pick one large campus from each area.

After running reports for the four universities, we were surprised to see that not all the universities shared the same top location. Northeastern University took the lead with the number of alumni living in a single country, China. While the University of Georgia and San Francisco State University’s top country was the United Kingdom. With London such a large hub to the world, it’s no surprise to see the number of alumni migrating to the UK. Following behind was Iowa State University with alumni living to our northern border, Canada.

Together the University of Georgia and Northeastern University share a large alumni community in Canada, while Iowa State University’s 2nd largest alumni community located in Malaysia and San Francisco State University in France.

Each school had a unique set of alumni living abroad, not shared by the other universities. Countries that set the universities apart from the other were Germany and Australia with a large amount of Northeastern Alumni, quickly followed by Hong Kong, Japan, and Malaysia for Iowa, SF and UGA.

The most popular countries for migrating alumni currently is Canada and the United Kingdom, making the top 5 list for all four universities.

More and More are Getting Out to Explore

What once sounded like a foreign concept before has now become a norm, your alumni are moving abroad. Many alumni are not just moving abroad for a new exciting opportunity, but for career incentives, financial gains, language skills and quality of life. And while fancy expat packages offering housing and school expenses are not always available, many oversea alums are seeing higher pay and benefits, allowing them to live a more comfortable lifestyle. According to HSBC’s expat survey, expats are adding an average $21,000 to yearly income, and match that with the lower cost of living and expats are finding the saving to be life-changing.

The Importance of Engaging Your Alumni Abroad

While visiting alumni overseas may seem like a nice vacation for your Development Officer, it’s actually crucial to your institution’s status to a global market. Alumni living abroad can often hold senior-level positions helping your school develop a strong relationship in the international playing field. By identifying these key alumni, your school can help find mentors, internships, job placements and donors for your institution. Your alumni want to be engaged and sought out, and by maintaining a relationship with not only your alumni but their employers you are able to help your school and your current students build stronger relationships.

Alumni are also likely to be attracted to networking with fellow alma mater – which means your alumni are essentially doing the work for you. Engaging one alumnus overseas could likely snowball into engaging more alumni living in the same city abroad. Expats, in general, tend to search for common groups of interest in foreign countries to find that special sense of “closeness.”

Iowa State University Alum Leonardo Chapula spent 5 years living abroad in China. While living abroad he made multiple friends who were also fellow cyclones. How? All by randomly sharing the same taxi, leaving a restaurant wearing a cyclone’s T-shirt. “It was pretty exciting being across the world and finding a fellow alum living in Ningbo”, Leo said. I remember she just shouted “Hey, Iowa! Me too!,” and after meeting one friend it basically snowballed into networking with others from Iowa State, which in return opened the door to many new opportunities”.

Even Tessa Fjelland, Associate Director of Research Strategies from Iowa State University begins exploring this topic is last month’s webinar if you are interested in listening to this webinar contact us by email!

Finding Oversea Alums

Are you interested in finding out where your alumni are living overseas? It’s easy.

LiveAlumni recommends using one of our pre-generated reports: Senior Executives Who Live Outside of the U.S.(Report > Pre-Generated > Senior Executives Who Live Outside of the U.S.) Need help? Reach out to our Support Team at, and they can help you build exactly what you are looking for.

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