Speaking at a webinar organised by Keystone Academic, Jennifer Parsons, director of product and partnerships at UniQuest said that students are less happy to wait for offers as they were previously. She described the current climate as a “perfect storm of demand increasing and students becoming more demanding in their expectations”.
According to Parsons, responding to applicants with an offer within 10 days gives the highest rate of conversion to enrolment. Once this goes over 21 days, conversion drops by nearly 40%. However, students are more willing to wait longer for higher-ranked institutions than those less well known internationally.
It is early in the cycle for students to be chasing offers and this creates a backlog of communications for admissions teams. In 2022, students are shopping more for offers from multiple institutions, speakers suggested.
Steven Boyd, dean of enrolment management and student life at the Unification Theological Seminary said that often universities want to get their offer out quickly as it is a competitive issue. “It is a concern if institutional peers have a better turn around time,” he added.
“If a student is going to have to wait for an offer, you must communicate during this time”
Fernando Mora, senior vice president of enrolment at Hult International Business School, challenged this view by saying that although speed as a Key Performance Indicator is important, the ultimate objective is to get to know the student well and to assess if the institution is a good fit for each student. He wants to focus on having meaningful interactions with applicants throughout a highly personalised process. “If it goes too fast, it is transactional,” he added.
Hult, UTS and UniQuest agreed that the solution lies somewhere within the communication process between admission teams and students. “Whoever you are, whatever your ranking or branding, if a student is going to have to wait for an offer, you must communicate during this time,” said Parsons.
“If you are able to keep your students informed, particularly about your own processes, if they understand what to expect, and are engaged with you, then you can carry them through the process,” added Boyd.