Is your admissions team effectively managing all student enquiries? We’ve got some tips to ensure a seamless student recruitment process.
Efficient enquiry management and consistent, clear communication is critical when moving students through the international student recruitment journey.
Your admissions process needs to prioritize the needs and concerns of the student, empowering them to ask questions, providing step-by-step instructions, and assuaging any fears or doubts they may have.
To do this, your enquiry management must be organized, continuously tracked and updated, and personable. So how can you implement this?
Setting your enquiry management strategy
As with most things, you’ve got to set and implement your strategy and processes before rolling out a new program.
Examine your current enquiry management processes and identify gaps in processes that need to be addressed.
For instance, is your team tracking a student’s progress throughout the entire enquiry to enrollment process?
Our QS Enrolment Solutions team found that the average number of days between an initial enquiry and enrollment for international students to the UK can be as long as 494 days for Saudi Arabian students, 475 days for Nigerian students, 381 days for Singaporean students, 361 days for Chinese students, 332 days for Canadian students, and 290 days for American students.
With such a long enrollment process, your admissions team needs to be consistently communicating with prospective students to ensure ongoing engagement and eventual enrollment.
If your team doesn’t have the bandwidth or resources to deliver this level of communication while also responding to ad hoc questions, then it may be worth exploring external agencies who specialize in this area.
Whether you do it in-house or use an external agency, you need to set a strategy that details:
How your representatives respond to enquiries
What language they use in communications and how to build rapport with students
How they track each individual enquiry to ensure every representative understands where the prospective student is in their journey and when they were last contacted
How to ensure constant touch points for students that are relevant and valuable
How these communications can be personalized
How your team ensures continuous coverage over multiple time zones
It’s important to note that your strategy will be the firm foundation that your team uses to seamlessly communicate with students, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a one-size-fits-all approach.
Personalized communication is key. Each representative should be trained to respond to students on an individual, personal basis, as well as the planned ongoing communication.
Top tips for student conversion
Now that you’ve established an enquiry management strategy for your international student recruitment efforts, what tips can improve your team’s success?
Firstly, time zone coverage is an issue that many universities struggle with. Being able to send timely responses to prospective students in different time zones is a critical component of effective enquiry management.
Whilst this may be difficult to organize with an in-house team, regional representatives or an external agency could ensure this time zone coverage is comprehensive.
When communicating with students, representatives should be trained on the effective questioning of students, empowering them to get to the root of a student’s issues and concerns.
They should also receive training in how to build rapport with students to ensure the communication process doesn’t feel automated or sterile.
Students want to speak with empathetic and understanding representatives, and these interactions will often dramatically shape the way they view your university, its staff, and how welcoming it is – all key components in maximizing conversion.
Interestingly, speed of response in enquiry management is often seen as an indicator of teaching quality, with teaching quality being the most important factor for students when choosing a university.
Another tip is to explore the possibility of weekend enquiry management. Many universities only provide enquiry coverage during the week, but many students are studying or working during that time.
Our QS Enrolment Solutions team found that weekend calls have increased levels of success when it came to prospective students engaging in in-depth discussions. Certain markets responded more positively than others, with Kenya, India, and Pakistan being especially responsive to weekend calls.
Whilst it may be worth exploring the possibility of weekend calls and other out-of-hours enquiry management for your own university, these numbers also demonstrate the importance of leveraging data and analyzing your enquiry performance.
Don’t ignore your data, collate it and examine it. It will illuminate areas where your enquiry management is succeeding or failing and provide you with a framework for progress.
Trying to improve the effectiveness of your international student recruitment but not sure where to start? Student profiling should be your first step.
A university’s international student recruitment strategy can shape its internationalization efforts and attract a wealth of engaged, prospective students.
As with most things, the effectiveness of this strategy is often determined by the amount of time and effort you invest in it.
It’s not enough to just send some brochures out, attend some student fairs, and invest in some marketing campaigns.
What strategic thinking and planning sits behind your university’s strategy and its accompanying initiatives?
One of the crucial components of this initial strategic work is student profiling.
What is student profiling?
A student profile or persona is a collection of facts, insights, and analysis about a specific group of prospective students that you want to target in your recruitment efforts.
Depending on the number of groups of prospective students you want to target, you could have between three, four, or up to eight personas.
To develop these varied personas, your team will need to research and identify these student groups, assign a persona to each group, and detail what these current or prospective students are like, what they’re looking for, and how you can target them in your recruitment initiatives.
Each persona or student profile should delve into detail and include information on their education background, age groups, geographies, motivations, ambitions, and decision-making criteria.
For instance, prospective students from high socio-economic backgrounds in China will have different recruitment needs than other personas, as scholarships and affordable cost of living and studying may be less of a priority.
Your marketing messages, recruitment outreach, and admissions process should be tailored to meet these specific needs and address any concerns they may have.
How can it improve your international student recruitment efforts?
Once you’ve developed these personas and invested time into your student profiling, what are the long-term benefits to your international student recruitment strategy?
First things first, developing these personas is not an easy feat. It will take a significant amount of research and analysis, and you may need to hire an external agency who specializes in this complicated work.
However, the return on investment will be significant when you consider the value of accurate, actionable personas that help you reach your international recruitment targets.
Beyond meeting your existing international recruitment student targets, developing student personas can also help you identify gaps in your current recruitment strategy and discover new markets and areas to explore.
Your research may reveal that while you’ve been targeting prospective students in Malaysia, similar student sentiments and needs are present in student groups in Indonesia, and you’ve been missing an opportunity by not targeting that market.
This allows you to diversify your recruitment strategy with a strong research foundation to drive your decisions and budget allocations, reducing risk and building buy-in internally.
If this research and analysis sounds like a lot of work for your already over-worked university planning, strategy, and research department then our QS Digital Insights and Strategy team can help.
Edutech, or education technology, is transforming the higher education sector as university staff find new ways to innovate and improve.
Technology permeates every aspect of our lives, from how we order food to how we commute and date, and the higher education sector is no exception.
In recent years, the higher education industry has seen a rapid rise in technology investment and adoption, thanks to a growing awareness of solutions and a need for innovation.
These advancements are allowing universities across the globe to dramatically increase efficiencies and improve the effectiveness of their processes.
So, how can your university keep up with these global shifts and embrace technology?
Addressing students’ needs for technology
Many universities are already providing technology tools for students, from online essay submission portals to live chat forums and receiving marks and feedback online.
This eases the workload for administrative staff, boosts student satisfaction, and allows teaching staff and students to have a more seamless dialogue without the pressure of office hours or face-to-face communication, which can be stressful for some students.
Leveraging technology for international partnerships
University staff are moving away from traditional tools like Excel or Word when it comes to managing relationships and international partnerships.
It’s clear that these complex higher education processes need tailor-made systems that include specific embedded features.
Rather than trying to host a range of different data and points of contact in an Excel sheet, a software platform allows university staff to track and develop partnerships efficiently.
For example, the QS MoveON software system enables university staff to manage international mobility and all partner activities and updates in a single system.
Using technology for student recruitment
One of the biggest areas where universities are seeing increased efficiencies is the student recruitment and admissions process.
Whether it’s digitization through online application forms and portals or online applications processing, savvy universities are utilizing technology to simplify and streamline the applications workflow.
These tools allow universities to better engage with prospective students, tracking and communicating with applicants in a single software platform.
The QS MoveIN platform does just that, empowering universities to automate and consolidate student recruitment processes and the entire application process.
If you’d like to learn more about how your university could transition to a completely online application process, contact the QS now.
LEO data has revealed substantial gaps between men and women based on their university degrees.
In nearly all courses in nursing, agriculture, and food, men saw higher median salaries than women after five years.
The only degree field where women saw higher median salaries than men was in English and communications and media.
History is repeating itself, ad nauseum
Unfortunately, these results closely mirror LEO data released in 2017, demonstrating the lack of improvement or progress on this issue.
In 2017, women were also seeing slightly higher median salaries in English and communications and media five years after graduation, and it was again the only area where they surpassed male salaries.
We’re also seeing reoccurring results in the field of nursing, an industry that is consistently dominated by women but still suffers from gender pay inequality.
Just one year after graduation, male nurses outperform female nurses by £2,000, with this gap leaping to £3,400 three years following graduation.
Unsurprisingly, male-dominated fields also see widening gender pay gaps with computer science boasting a £4,400 gap five years after graduation, engineering and technology a £4,300 gap, and architecture a £3,700 gap.
Wonkhe analysis noted that this graduate gender pay gap begins immediately after graduation and increases over the years, positioning women at a disadvantage from the very beginning of their careers.
It’s not just LEO data highlighting this issue
This supports analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies in 2018 which found that female graduates earned nearly 50% more than non-university educated women.
However, this income level for female graduates (an average annual salary of £30,000 by the age of 29) was comparable to that of non-university educated men who received good GCSE results.
For non-university educated women with similar GCSE results, the average annual salary was £20,800.
What can UK universities do to address this issue?
The numbers are shockingly clear; women are at a substantial financial disadvantage and it’s a systematic issue.
With more and more universities placing graduate employability and career progression as a high priority, this is an issue that can’t be ignored.
UK universities can play an important role in this environment, developing specific support services and career guidance for female students, particularly those entering male-dominated fields.
Universities and employers need to work together to address this issue and understand the factors that lead to this financial inequality, and where their respective responsibility lies.
Regional representation should be a crucial component of your international student recruitment strategy. Here’s why.
When recruiting international students across the globe, there’s a lot of challenges for universities to consider.
The recruitment and admissions process requires a substantial amount of communication, which can often be complicated by time zone constraints and language barriers.
This means that university staff can’t deliver the level of service to international students that they’d like, risking losing prospective students throughout the admissions process.
This can often be compounded by tightening budgets and a lack of resources, ensuring that university staff are at a significant disadvantage when recruiting international students.
To address these issues, universities can invest in trained regional, in-country experts that can act as their representation in far-flung regions.
So, what are the benefits of using an in-country representative rather than a home-based representative from your university?
The advantages of regional representation
Compared to university staff based in your home country, in-country representatives can act on your university’s behalf to communicate with students, manage regional educational agents, and increase the frequency of event attendance.
By freeing your university staff from these regional activities, you can lower travel costs, provide students with a dedicated resource, and ensure consistent rapport and communication with students and agents.
At the moment, your university might only visit a few major cities in your key markets, and perhaps only once or twice a year.
This leaves little room in the budget for multiple trips, entering new markets, or building strong relationships, as a low frequency of visits may erode trust in markets that are relationship-oriented. For instance, the QS team has found that agents from Indonesia are particularly sensitive to the frequency of visits, preferring monthly visits to quarterly visits.
For example, if a university representative travelled from the UK to Indonesia to visit local agents the cost could be as much as USD$440-500/£350-400/€390-450 return. However, if an in-country representative in Kuala Lumpur wanted to visit agents in Indonesia the cost would only be around USD$60-125/£50-100/€55-110 return.
With in-country representation, universities can substantially boost the frequency of their visits, increasing to once a quarter or even once a month.
This level of face time can revive agent networks that have gone cold, allow universities to access smaller cities and areas previously unavailable to them, and improve event attendance and return on investment.
Looking at specific countries, the percentage of students who have used or plan to use an agent remains high with 64% of Thai students, 56% of Chinese students, 54% of Singaporean students, 53% of Malaysian students, and 51% of Indonesian students.
Additionally, 67% of Vietnamese students said an agent has made them aware of a university they hadn’t previously heard of.
In Indonesia, students particularly value international agents’ advice and guidance, and agree that agents influence their choice of country and university.
As regional representatives are situated in the local markets they’re targeting, they can also dramatically improve response times for prospective international students, as they’re not delayed by time zone differences or language difficulties and can communicate on local social media and other channels.
Regional representation alleviates the burden on university staff, opens lines of communication to new markets, and significantly lowers recruitment costs.
This data links education and tax records and it has showcased clear variations in salaries and sustained employment five years after graduation.
For those who studied business and management, the average salary could range from £16,400 to £74,000.
In law and computing, there was a salary difference of up to £40,000 between the highest and lowest earners.
Damian Hinds, the UK education secretary, says these drastically different outcomes raise concerns over varying teaching quality and employability across UK universities.
“It cannot be right that students studying the same subjects at different institutions, and paying the same fees, are not getting the same positive outcomes which are evidently achievable. All students should feel they are getting value for money and the stark disparities between some degrees show there are universities that need to improve and maximize the potential of their courses.”
Graduate outcomes and salary potential are obviously huge priorities for university students. In our 2019 International Student Survey, we asked respondents how much they expected their starting salary to increase over their first three years in full-time employment.
The results were telling with many students expecting their salary to increase by around 50% over the first three years, including students in business and administrative studies, technologies, engineering, creative arts and design, mathematical and computer services, European languages and literature, architecture, and medicine and dentistry, among others.
Our 2019 UK Domestic Student Survey also revealed students’ salary expectations with respondents stating the following starting salaries for their first year of full-time employment:
Mathematical and computer services: £27,200
Business and administrative studies: £26,900
Medicine and dentistry: £26,600
Under the LEO data, 2010-2011 graduates in medicine and dentistry saw the highest median salary five years after graduation with a salary of £46,000.
Interestingly, nursing graduates saw the highest proportion (92%) in sustained employment after five years.
So, what does all this disparate data mean?
UK graduates expect a strong starting salary and consistent improvements to salary as they progress throughout their career.
This comes in stark contrast to LEO data which suggests that UK universities represent an extremely wide range of graduate outcomes, salary expectations, and career growth.
Want to encourage your students to make the most of study abroad opportunities? Here’s how.
Higher education students are more mobile and independent than ever thanks to the wealth of international exchanges open to them today.
As globalization makes the world an increasingly smaller place, students are seamlessly studying in places that boast different languages, cultures, and customs.
But what would motivate your students to make the most of this opportunity, and what can your university do to nurture this?
What benefits does study abroad offer students?
Studying abroad for a semester or year on international exchange is a fantastic opportunity for any university student.
This experience helps them to become a global citizen, understand different cultures and customs, gain varied knowledge in their field of expertise, and allows them to see the world.
When studying in a country which speaks a different language, it also affords them the opportunity to learn a new language and practice in their day-to-day lives.
This opportunity also provides students with sought-after international experience, making them stand out when submitting job applications.
What can your university do?
To nurture and encourage this student mobility and its accompanying benefits, universities could provide support services, destination advice, and scholarships.
If you run your university’s international office, you understand the importance of determining which partnerships are mutually beneficial and valuable, and where students should go to increase their knowledge in a particular field.
You’ll want to consider which fields of study are the most popular for those students wishing to study abroad.
Then, you can identify the universities that excel in these fields of study and whether you have existing partnerships with them or not.
If you’re wondering how you’ll manage all of these new partnerships and opportunities, the QS MoveON software platform empowers universities to manage international mobility and partner activities and agreements in a single system.
Contact us today to learn more about how your university can streamline workflows and transform processes to maximize international partnerships and student mobility.
Graduate employability isn’t just another factor or number, it’s something that every university should focus on.
The ability for graduates to find or create work after higher education is a critical component of a university’s reputation and ranking, and a key deciding factor in a prospective student’s decision-making process.
Graduate employability has seen greater emphasis in recent years as universities cater to the growing importance students place on graduate outcomes.
The message is clear to global universities; your students care about graduate employability, and so should you.
What does graduate employability mean for international students?
Employability has a 10% weighting in our global rankings, and it has a 20% average weighting across our regional rankings.
Nunzio Quacquarelli, founder of QS, believes that universities play an important role in preparing graduates for today’s global employment market.
“This means that the development of soft skills, like team-playing and resilience, become as important as the technical skills and knowledge acquired during a degree. Employers responding to the QS Global Employer Survey reiterate this message repeatedly.”
“Opportunities for internships, study abroad, extra-curricular activity, and active learning can all contribute to the development of these skills.”
If you’re unsure how your university currently measures up when it comes to graduate employability, the QS Employer Reputation Tracker offers exclusive data, analysis of your performance, comparisons to your peers, and a framework for progress.
Contact us today to discover how our expert analysis can dramatically improve your graduate employability.
This excellent question was raised in one of our recent webinars and it’s definitely an important point to consider in your university’s social media marketing strategy.
So, what should you do with negative comments on social media? Ignore them? Apologize? Argue with the poster?
Your response depends completely on the nature of the comments and the specific situation. The context will, of course, be something only you and your university can really understand, but before we go through our tips…
First things first, should you reply to criticism?
In a word: Yes.
It’s impossible to evade criticism nowadays; there are simply too many review sites for you to keep anything quiet. Word-of-mouth recommendations mean so much more than they used to pre-internet because one harsh comment can spread around the globe instantly.
If someone criticizes your institution, it’s important to respond and to respond constructively. Not only is this good customer service, but it also reassures anyone who stumbles on these comments that you do care and that you actively try to resolve negative situations.
In addition, leaving criticism without a reply merely serves to reinforce their statement.
How should you respond to criticism?
Again, this is totally dependent on the situation. There are a number of different options.
Publicly vs. privately
Replying ‘privately’ doesn’t mean completely privately, it just means carrying out most of the conversation through direct messages rather than on public posts. It’s a brilliant tool for people who are abusive, or for sensitive matters.
To take this route, reply publicly that you’re sorry for their experience and that you’ve sent them a private message so you can resolve the situation.
For smaller issues and, hopefully, less irate people, replying publicly is a great way to show what a helpful institution you are. If a situation seems like it can be resolved easily and it doesn’t look like it will escalate, doing so in the public sphere can also be a good way to promote your customer service skills.
The other major occasion in which you should reply publicly is if the person has made unfounded allegations against your university. You don’t want to leave those kinds of comments hanging around without a rebuttal.
In these situations, you can either converse entirely in public, or you can offer a rebuttal of their allegations and ask if they’d like to speak privately to resolve the matter. Use your judgment to work out which method would work best.
Serious vs. humorous
Humor can be a perfect way to show the lighter side of your institution. Be careful though, as it’s only appropriate in certain situations and you have to be sure your use of humor will go down well.
Analyze the tone of voice in the criticism that’s been made and decide if it’s a person who might respond well to humor or if it’s the kind of comment to which the rest of your audience would appreciate a humorous comment.
If in doubt, stick with a serious response; it’s difficult to go wrong with that.
Just make sure that you’re never abusive, even if the person posting is. Always keep the high ground, as responding emotionally or aggressively will make your university look childish and petty, and that’s surely not the image you’re trying to cultivate.
Never, ever delete negative comments.
It’s unlikely to make the person go away, and it may just incentivize them to post more. Negative social media contact isn’t something you can erase.
Some guides recommend asking posters to remove their comments after you’ve solved the situation. Generally speaking, however, there’s no real harm in leaving resolved issues on your profile, if anything this shows your willingness to rectify problems.
If you do decide to go down that route, make sure you’ve fully resolved the problem first – no one is going to remove a complaint which hasn’t been dealt with.
Should you take a moral stance?
Whilst this is your decision, universities are often perceived as embodying certain principles in society and, by extension, they ought to be seen defending those principles.
Being a university which is willing to take a stance is good for prospective applicants to see. After all, the very best universities challenge their students and thrive on open debate and discussion.
Of course, taking a moral stance can split your audience, but it can also create a much stronger following.
It’s worth working out a set of guidelines for your social media staff, so you can present a common image.
Not everything will be tagged
The thing about social media is that you can’t necessarily wait for someone to contact you, quite often customers won’t use your @handle in tweets or post comments directly onto your Facebook page.
It’s therefore advisable to check searches for your university periodically and respond to any feedback accordingly, even if it isn’t actively directed at you.
When it comes to negative comments, this approach shows that you’re willing to foster a conversation and actively seek to solve issues. With positive comments, it offers a great way to interact with happy customers and build up a better image for your university’s brand.
Always bear in mind that social media is a two-way form of communication and not just another outlet for your promotional materials and content. To maintain a successful presence, you need to make sure you’re part of the conversation.
Don’t be afraid to contact us about any data deadlines or basic questions. Most importantly, please inform us if your point of contact changes, as this can lead to significant bottlenecks if we’re emailing a contact that’s left your university.
Build buy in
Once you’ve set up a point of contact and a team, it’s important to communicate to the wider university teams the importance of these rankings.
Building and maintaining buy in across the university will ensure that data collection is smooth and there’s no miscommunication about what the rankings mean and why you’re doing it.
This will hopefully minimize push backs and issues from teams who don’t want to take the time to collect data points.
Additionally, communicating the different rankings indicators that need to be met will help people understand how these rankings are determined and what each team can do.
Everyone should be aware of these indicators and understand how their department contributes to an indicator’s performance.
The six QS rankings indicators are academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per faculty, faculty/student ratio, international faculty ratio, and international student ratio.
Meet your deadlines
Another important component to the rankings process is that you provide your data to us in good time and meet your deadlines.
You should ensure you’ve got your affiliations and Scopus up to date to make sure we have the right data, particularly if your university has multiple names in different languages or a complicated name.
Once you’ve got all these elements in order, you can start building the firm foundation you need for a strong rankings application.
The QS Rankings Entry Evaluation service provides universities with a breakdown of the QS methodology; the minimum requirements and performance indicators and how your university can meet them; access to underlying data used to calculate the rankings; and comparisons to your peers.
If you’d like to learn more about the QS Rankings Entry Evaluation, contact us today.