During a session on digital student recruitment a panel of experts discussed how institutions around the world are using tech platforms as part of their student recruitment strategy and activity.

“Students are taking control of their own destination and journey”

Wendy Alexander vice-principal (International) at the University of Dundee in the UK outlined a number of changes that have happened to the sector as a result of Covid. 

“What I think has changed as a result of the pandemic is a revolution in recruitment and sales that hitherto was not characterised by an online and digital engagement,” she said. 

“Students are taking control of their own destination and journey… [they] are stuck in their bedrooms, they just want to own what their next step is. So that’s one change. 

“I also think if you used to think that recruitment was about sales B to C, you went to visit schools… But in fact, if you look at the products from BridgeU or Cialfo, they’re transforming the process of work with schools into an online proposition.” 

Alexander explained that another important change has been the emergence of digital agent aggregators. 

“They don’t like to be called that anymore, but we’ve moved from mom and pop store agents to supermarkets, then probably to hypermarkets, and now we’ve moved to the Amazon marketplaces. So what I think we’re seeing is a revolution in recruitment, driven both by changes on the supply side and students trying to own their own journeys,” she added. 

Isaac Garcia-Sitton, executive director, international student enrolment, education, and inclusion at Ryerson University in Canada said that the pandemic has enabled institutions to “fast-track” digital transformations and have “more honest conversations” about gaps in strategies. 

“I think it’s very important that we also keep very much in mind that students support and a student-centred approach should not just be about our curriculum and our delivery of our programs, but it’s very much a part of recruitment and marketing and engagement,” he said.

“If you can provide that sort of information to a sales team, you can then focus on the right type of student”

The panel also discussed developments around automation and how tech can be used to improve institutions’ marketing strategies.  

Nick Willmer head of education at Net Natives and Akero explained that automation could be used in tandem with more traditional marketing methods. 

“If you can bring in prospective students and then you can automate some of that process, so identifying which students have a high propensity to actually enrol, which students maybe have got finances or are more likely to be able to come to the country and study,” he said.  

“If you can provide that sort of information to a sales team, you can then focus on the right type of student and the rest can be automated to make sure that every student gets a great experience, but the university is making the most out of their new sales team,” he added. 

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