Tech backbone in enrolments vital for efficiency, ROI

This was a viewpoint shared by a range of HE stakeholders at a recent PIE Webinar which discussed tracking marketing campaign impact via a CRM which syncs campaign conversion with admissions data.

“The costs-per-successful-enrolled student will definitely go up”

“I firmly believe that we’re in the place in terms of student enrolment in 2020 where we need to be doing a lot more marketing and more communication to keep successful attracting and enrolling and receiving new students, said Lauri Elevant, CTO of Dream Apply.

At the same time, the costs-per-successful-enrolled student will definitely go up. And that is going to create the need for measuring the actual efficiency and the bang for the buck, so to speak, and not just in terms of clicks, but in terms of actual results.”

At Utrecht University, Jess Winters, head of International Student Recruitment, acknowledged, “We cannot connect campaigns to specific enrolments [which is] something I would really like in the future. That will take a while… but it’s what we’re working on.”

Elevant’s company and tech solution were borne out of realising that, in his words, the “biggest bottleneck” to achieving a smooth admissions process was the universities rather than students. “Often the documentation was not being handled very well.”

And understanding this difficult process also eventually led to a partnership with Digitary.

This company solves a small but significant problem, as Simone Ravaioli, director strategic partnerships, explained: namely, secure digital transcripts for students.

Digitary initially started off as an output for students at the end of a qualification but credential verification can now also be embedded a part of the admissions offer and verification process.

“Universities, as part of their digital transformation journey, now issue their academic certificates, documents digitally and they use our technology, our platform to issue them to learners in their wallet, in a digital wallet in that state that stays with the student, the person for life for free,” explained Ravaioli.

And that’s where these applicants can share this credentials from in the context of international admissions.”

Elevant was emphatic that wholesale commitment to change is needed to redesign the admissions system but big impacts can be achieved.

Speaking from University of Siena, prof Andrea Garulli explained that his IT & engineering department had to concede that outsourcing to a third-party system was better after initially trying to build their own system.

It was more student-centric, he conceded, and that – along with a small fee to submit an application – helped sift quality applications.

“Last year, which was the first year we used Dream Apply for all the courses we had, ‘only’ let me say 500 applications. But the rate of acceptance was 30%. And the final rate of enrolment was 22%. And the quality increased a lot.

Elevant shared some fascinating statistics on conversion based on data from the 250 universities which use their system.
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“We actually went through some statistics across the entire corpus of Dream Apply users,” he said. “And we’re seeing that to admit successfully, 100 students on average, across all the systems from various universes with various different backgrounds, processes: apparently, you need about 1300 applications to go through. So that’s one in 13.”

“There is no magical moment where conversion from a lead to an applicant occurs”

He continued, “That is quite a lot of applications. So you need automation. Otherwise, you would be doing a lot of work.”

Elevant believes in data and systems that link and track the whole fairly complicated process, from marketing to admissions, incorporating requirements around language proficiency, prior attainment and frequent communication with the student.

“What I believe is that there is no handoff from marketing to admissions,” he said.

“There is no magical moment where conversion from a lead to an applicant occurs. It’s all the same thing.”

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