Future of international student admissions: interactive, personalised and backed by technology

The importance of digital platforms and a tech-first revolution in providing greater access, democratisation and diversification

The ongoing pandemic has forced higher education institutes to move online. It has also led to widespread speculation on future attitudinal shifts among students and educators, as well as the evolution of online learning and recruitment tools, changing prospects for universities and what this could mean for the future of overseas education-related student mobility.

Addressing the complexities of current times

One of the biggest shifts we’re seeing is digitisation in international student recruitment and growing dependence on technology to increase discoverability for institutes and ease application journeys for prospective students worldwide. In the past, scattered information around the international education system, a lack of holistic understanding of the processes involved in the admissions journey, and a host of other challenges have plagued the ecosystem.

“…a new face of overseas student recruitment is emerging – one that’s experience-based, data-driven, interactive, personalised, and backed by a technology-first approach…”

Having said that, a new face of overseas student recruitment is emerging – one that’s experience-based, data-driven, interactive, personalised, and backed by a technology-first approach, adapted to the preferences of current prospective international students.

Technology adoption to fuel future growth

Higher education institutes across all major geographies are facing complex and dynamic recruitment challenges. Institutes globally are implementing omni-channel, mobile-first, interactive student recruitment funnels to create immersive and engaging student experiences. Students applying to colleges and universities today rely on tech-enabled tools to identify the right institutes, find the perfect programmes to match their aspirations and to ultimately make their college applications. Today, institutes are focused on upgrading their current recruitment tech-stack to deliver a seamless on-boarding journey for students, allowing for transparency in processes and increased discoverability of their offerings.

Globally, student recruitment teams are experimenting with, and increasingly adopting some of the below mentioned tech-tools to bolster their recruitment initiatives and efforts…

Video tools, chat-integrated platforms and smart query bots: 

Automated assistance chat-bots and video-integrated platforms are making their way into the admissions ecosystem. A large number of millennial and Gen-Z student/applicants are already familiar with video-enabled tools and chat-integrated platforms; thus, we continue to witness rapid adoption of these tools in the recruitment and admissions journey. Given the current global travel restrictions, institutes now heavily rely on video-powered tools to connect with prospective students around the world by creating digital interactive webinars, panel discussions and interactive alumni-prospective student engagement summits. Intelligent chat-bots are another interactive tool that institutes are adopting to connect with students. These smart bots are now powered to assist students with easy onboarding and guide them through the entire application process. Both these tools are an important addition for students’ pre-enrolment and decision-making process.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI):

Increasingly, AI-powered course and college recommendation engines are being built into college application platforms that match a student’s career aspirations and skill sets to programmes and institutes that are the best match to their current profile. Tech platforms are also increasingly experimenting with machine learning-enabled data filtering capabilities to provide dynamic search results to help prospective students identify the right programmes. This will also help reduce average time spent on the programme shortlisting funnel. These tech-driven solutions are completely revolutionary in terms of helping students get started on their higher education journey in a seamless and transparent manner, allowing them to make well-informed, reliable decisions backed by data.

• Predictive analytics and sentiment analysis:

AI-enabled digital analytics dashboards are helping college recruitment teams identify the right candidates and manage student enrolment, as well as on-boarding. It also helps optimise their recruitment strategies to create customised and personalised admissions campaigns leading to the creation of engaging creatives and content that a larger number of students will interact with digitally. Predictive analytics coupled with sentiment analysis capabilities helps teams identify and analyse patterns such as mapping student interest, analysing metrics around student progression and to better understand student expectations leading to higher retention rates. Insights from predictive and smart analytics can help understand intent and drive student interest.

Virtual and augmented reality:

Universities and colleges are also experimenting with immersive technologies such as augmented reality(AR) and virtual reality (VR) to enhance recruitment initiatives and create an experiential digital admissions process. Virtual open days and VR campus tours are some exciting new ways to showcase campus life and student accommodation facilities. Prospective students can now experience the campus from the comfort of their homes; multimedia layering enables clickable call-to-action buttons to be added to the tour; moreover, the ability to add FAQ’s to the virtual tour allows for a truly interactive and entertaining experience. Globally, institutes are focused on adding such experiential cutting-edge solutions to their arsenal to be ‘future-ready’.

Personalised learning on the rise

In the past year, we have seen the rise of new hybrid learning tools and introduction of blended teaching formats.

Institutes that are adopting a blended teaching curriculum are choosing personalised learning management systems with gamification mechanics built into platforms – this is a strong motivator for students to learn and complete class assessments in a timely manner and also allows for personal feedback sessions. A lot of research is being carried out to better understand outcomes of gamified learning: higher recall, increased retention and improved application of learning outcomes are considered to be major benefits of this approach.

Technology is rapidly transforming the higher education industry, and the increased global adoption of technology is paving the way for a future of learning and student recruitment that is truly seamless, engaging and transparent.

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