HEI Challenges in the International Student Market – Part (2)

In the first part of this blog, we have seen the effect of post-study work visa for international students regulations on decreasing the motivation for students for selecting the UK as their studying abroad destination, but instead going to Canada or Germany. In part 2 we will highlight additional issues that make the journey a bit harder for higher education institutions in the UK.

Lack of Governmental Support

One of the main challenges that HEI face is the lack of support from the government. More than 70% of respondents of a survey that has been sent to business schools and international offices across the UK definitely or mostly agree that the support that higher education institutions get in other countries by their governments has made them more attractive to international students. They emphasized the fact that third-party organisations (e.g. British Council) are key to stronger international student recruitment to the UK. The intensity and global nature of the competition for international students mean that few institutions have the resources to do everything they wish when marketing internationally. Although the presence of third-party companies plays a significant role in expanding the overall reputation of a country, a great deal can still be done by universities themselves.

Economic Constraints

The economic and political situation of the UK in the past three years have affected the value of the pound, which was good for students at some point due to lower conversion rates. But, as it increases, it puts a financial burden on students to come study abroad since this change can almost double the amount of money that has to be paid to universities by some students in some countries. That can cause a problem since recruiting International students is crucial for the survival of universities, as they generate the highest revenue due to increased fees in comparison to domestic students.

Market Competition and Recruitment Process

Competition is intensifying with more students able to choose internationally recognised schools in their home countries, often teaching in English at a lower cost than in the UK, and with more recruiters on campus who can offer them work in their home country. Students from outside Asia may also decide that rapidly developing economies in Asia, make studying in Asia an attractive proposition for their future career prospects.

While agents can undoubtedly fulfil an important role, such relationships need careful management and strong engagement to ensure that there is a clear understanding of the business school’s offer. Overseas agents are also being increasingly used by a wider range of schools in different countries. Consequently, one agent may be acting on behalf of a number of institutions from a single country or multiple countries. For just under a quarter of the schools responding to the survey, agents fees have risen in the past three years while none report a decrease.

Partnerships for growth

The growth of partnerships as a source of international students has also been important for British business schools in recent years. For some schools this has meant double degree or joint degree programmes, but for many partnerships have taken a different route. Just under 80% definitely or mostly agree that ‘Partnerships with other institutions for 2+2 or 3+1 degree programmes are important sources of international students for our school’, while nearly half also agree that ‘Partnerships with private providers (e.g. INTO) brings us a strong pipeline of international students’. Business schools responding to the survey identified two particular areas where more work was required in international student recruitment. Just short of 90% definitely or mostly agreed that ‘We need to do more work to effectively target international students’ and just over 90% agreed that ‘Greater involvement of our global alumni would help us recruit more international students’.

Source: https://charteredabs.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Chartered-ABS-International-Student-Recruitment-2016.pdf

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Rawan August 8, 2018 0 Comments

HEI Challenges in the International Student Market – Part (1)

The world has witnessed an exponential growth in science and technology in the past 20 years, information is getting transferred in real-time, which means with just a click of a button, from virtually anywhere. This growth has accelerated social development and increased the human thirst for knowledge. University education has become a priority for those who want to have wider access to information and enhance their career prospects, as the labour market is constantly striving to reduce the unemployability rates in line with the growth of qualities needed to fulfil a certain job. This has pushed people, especially those in developing countries, to go for higher education degrees especially.

The UK has one the highest numbers of international students in the world, with almost half a million students arriving every year. Higher education institutions are constantly pushing major efforts to increase student satisfaction levels to retain and increase this number as they contribute significant funds to university budgets.

International students who come to study in the UK have one of the highest satisfaction levels in the world throughout their studying journey. They acquire a great degree and unique skill sets that distinguish them in a competitive job market in their respective home countries. On the other hand, some choose to seek employment abroad (at the destination of study) and this is one of the main constraints that the UK HEI is failing to provide, while other international students study at destinations that offer a more complete package.

Why HEI fails to satisfy student postgraduate needs?

According to the Chartered Association of Business Schools report on “UK Business schools and International student recruitment in 2016”, the visa regulations for international students seeking to work in the UK after graduation has been tightened as of March 2016. Key features of this policy included the introduction of requirements for international graduates to find an employer within four months of graduation that is willing to offer them a graduate job with a salary of at least £20,500 and provide visa sponsorship. Students who want to set up a business in the UK can apply for a ‘Graduate Entrepreneur’ visa and will need their university to ‘sponsor’ them. The Government also toughened up the rules on English language competence, insisting students have an upper intermediate level of English. Evidence shows this policy, and how it is perceived by prospective students abroad, is having a negative impact on business schools’ ability to recruit international students. Coupled with increased competition for international students from institutions abroad the decline in non-EU students also has a detrimental effect on university finances and the regional economies around them.

Over 90% definitely or mostly agree that ‘Changes to post-study work visa availability has had a negative impact on international student recruitment’. Nearly 90% also definitely or mostly agree that ‘Reporting of government policy has had a negative impact on international student recruitment’. Visa issues are further highlighted by 80% of business schools, which definitely or mostly agree that ‘Processing student visa applications by UK authorities has had a negative impact on international student recruitment’.

However, it is not just post-study work visa issues that were highlighted as making international student recruitment more difficult. Changes in visa rules at short notice and without the adequate detail of the changes have made have further complicated recruitment. Allowable visa application refusal rates falling to a maximum of 10% have also made the recruitment process more difficult, with fears that a further tightening may be considered. Some suggested that rules were also applied differently depending on the institution to which a candidate was applying.

The loss of international graduates working in the UK economy produces a potential reduction in growth. International students working in the UK contribute directly in terms of the taxes they pay and the spending they undertake, but potentially more significantly they help British business to grow markets, especially in their country of origin.

Source: https://charteredabs.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Chartered-ABS-International-Student-Recruitment-2016.pdf

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Rawan July 26, 2018 0 Comments

Challenges International Students Face During their Enrolment Journey

The UK is a home for almost 450,000 of international students, who come every year looking for a world class education, aiming to build an outstanding career path, and creating memories that will last forever. This is all great, and it’s true that the UK students have one of the highest satisfaction levels in the world, yet they don’t have the same levels when it comes to the application stage.

We have interviewed Afraz Hussain who is an international student originally from Dubai to learn more about his enquirer experience prior to his enrollment at the University of Nottingham.

Question: Why did you decide to choose the UK as your studying abroad destination?

Afraz: The UK offers world class education; the qualifications awarded are widely recognised due to the high standards they set when it comes to achieving your degree. On the other side, language was an important factor which you acquire not only throughout the studies but also by the continuous interaction with different kinds of people from across the world, adding an interesting learning experience that changed my perception towards a lot of things forever.

Question: What were the challenges you have faced when you applied to study in the UK?

Afraz: The major challenges that I faced when I was applying is the shortlisting of the universities that I wanted to apply to, I was constantly doing research on the rankings, important facts and figures to come up with an informed decision. I also visited one the UK universities fair to get access to country specific information. At the fair, I met a large number of universities which provided loads of brochures about the different programmes yet they failed to provide the information needed because it was too much information to process especially when you are holding 50 of them to view. The second challenge was the application process, as I wanted to understand more about specific universities application processes such as the entry requirements since all the information that I found online were UK specific, for example as a student coming from Dubai 2:1 didn’t make any sense to me because the difference in the grading system. Which forced me to trouble the universities with non-stop calls and emails which wasn’t that great of a help, as the ratio of response was 3:1 with a 3-5 working days response time that made me highly frustrated because everything was taking forever to be understood. I also wanted to apply to a scholarship, but I couldn’t know which scholarships I was eligible for, there was no clear timeline or requirements as I felt that all the information was very generic which resulted in applying for a student loan. The last challenge that I think is crucial for every student is the tracking of the application, as the entire process wasn’t clear which made me think that I would make it at some point because I was short in time. When I finally received the offer I was highly confused about what is conditional and what is unconditional, how to apply for CAS and the reason behind that is that I was receiving random emails reminding me to apply when I am an offer holder so lack of personalisation was an absolute headache. Lastly at the fair and through several marketing campaigns we have been informed that we have an advisor in Dubai that will be contacting us to meet with us to solve any pending queries and that never happened and I didn’t get notified about the events around me that would have made my life way easier, but at the end day I made it!

Question: How do you think universities could do better?

Afraz: To be honest the only reason I shortlisted Nottingham because they were one in a few that responded to my enquiry, which motivated to apply so I think universities has to be quick to respond it does affect your decision big time. In my opinion, the availability of a platform that facilitates direct contact with prospective students would be great, where they understand country specific entry requirements and events would a large weight added value in the decision making process. A mobile app is the best solution where we can be prompted with news, and updates on our application and the next steps that we should take.

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Rawan July 5, 2018 0 Comments

Digital Influence Overcoming Conversion and Outreach Problems

Competition in higher education recruitment is at its peak and universities struggle to provide high quality, personalised service for increasingly tech-savvy prospective students in their crucial decision-making journey. Marketing and Recruitment departments continue to generate warm leads at fairs, using advisors, staff, alumni, working with agents, and online advertising. Universities and colleges currently lose up to 70% of their applicants, and significant staff time and effort is spent making sure every prospect and their parents have all the information they need to make a well-informed decision.

The Era of Speed

Mobile delivery of services has become an expectation of progressive higher education institutions, and the old regime of traditional advertising is fading as millennials focus on experiences and interactivity over hard sells. Millennials are digital natives and multitasking is the new relaxing, which means that they grew up with a level of technological literacy that’s relatively new to the market (Forbes, 2017). Prospective students have the “I want an answer now” mentality, so it’s imperative that we reach out when the interest is at its peak, and that time is now.

The number of international students recruited by British universities has seen a steady decline in enrolment ratios from application to entry due to various internal and external factors. Most marketing and recruitment managers face problems in Outreach and Acquisition of the tech-savvy cohort during the critical pre-entry phase. A lack of brand awareness and slow speed to connect with high-quality personalised data during wait-period of the student recruitment cycle is constantly leading to significant loss of revenue and low conversion ratios.

Marketing to Millennials

We have recognised that this generation values being acknowledged as individuals, being presented with options, and feeling connected. They’re receptive to brand storytelling over straightforward ads. Millennials exhibit early adoption tendencies and develop a sign of loyalty to brands they can trust. Millennials do not care if the content is branded; they care about whether it speaks to them. 95% of Students prefer apps to mobile-ready portals, and universities have to adopt an app-first strategy to enhance the students’ satisfaction levels and increase their student recruitment numbers.

Proodle asked many international students who choose the UK as their study abroad destination about the problems they faced when they were applying for universities. 62% said it was hard to raise enquiries, 31% said the university did not even respond, which made their application process harder and forced them to go for alternative sources such as agents. We also asked them for their opinion regarding the user experience of the university website and the effect on their application process, 70% said it was complicated to find application timelines, 78% said there is a lack of country-specific information that was a burden to understand entry requirements, and 95% said they suffered from a lack of personalisation.

Innovation can change the game

Millennials have a lot to offer the market, and it all starts with capturing their attention. The rise of social and influencer marketing exemplifies how millennials prefer to be part of a brand’s conversation. By directly addressing this generation, brands can spark a connection. Student facing web and mobile apps can facilitate this and streamline the recruitment process, allowing the universities to have access to the most up-to-date information about a prospective student’s enquiries, application status or offer letter, and directly recruit high-calibre students by making marketing and contact strategy more targeted and cost-effective.  

By having a greater insight into the behaviour of your users and provide them with high-quality personalised information, we can now follow an e-commerce marketing approach for better conversion of an enquirer into an applicant and then ultimately successful enrollment. Personalisation and the ability to connect them with existing resources is key to making users feel proud of being part of your institution.

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Rawan June 19, 2018 0 Comments

10 Reasons to Study in the UK

With 18,000 universities worldwide, determining the location of your study if you are interested in being abroad can be a bit of a hassle especially with a wide range of countries that offer a great quality of education. Yet, you might want to consider the lifestyle in addition to your field of your study, and if you are still confused the UK will create one of the best experience that you could ever get ever on different levels and here is why.

1. Your CV will always stand out

The main reason behind our decision to study abroad, is to create a strong education abroad that will lead us to a good career path. The UK universities represents a large portion of the top 200 universities in the world, and great career prospects. Being a UK graduate will be an asset on your CV and will narrow down the number of applicants who are competing for the same job and didn’t get the same great education that you have got.

2. A rich learning experience

Learning does not only constitute university education, the UK is one the most diverse countries in the world as it attracts a large number of international students from different continents allowing you to expand your knowledge as traveling around the world exposes you to different landscapes to discover. Studying in the UK will introduce you to different backgrounds and perspectives that eventually expand your horizon and push your limits to think of the unknown.

3. A beautiful landscape to discover

The UK landscape is known for its breathtaking beauty, with its majestic history and exotic nature you won’t be having a weekend of boredom for a very compelling price.

4. The Cheapest among the 3 top studying destination

When compared to the US and Australia, the UK has the lowest tuition fees among all which will ease the process of getting a loan if you are going for one. On the other side the UK and when it comes the proof of eligibility for Visa, the UK has the lowest cap.

5. Master the world’s top language

Due to the exponential growth of international operations of companies, most courses are taught in English nowadays, yet being in a country where English is their native language will allow to perfect your English skills in all aspects, since you can practice with anyone anytime and anywhere.

6. Free Healthcare

Get free access to healthcare throughout your studies by the NHS, which are based on your campus at most universities.

7. Make a living while you are studying

As a student you are allowed to work for 20 hours per week, giving you enough time to study, enjoy your time and make some extra cash.

8. Get the same top degree in less time

Studying in the UK will allow you to finish your undergraduate in 3 years and your masters in 1 year only! With the same level quality of education that’s a great spec to consider.

9. A two-hour away trip to Paris!

The UK is a great getaway to the rest of Europe, with convenient and cheap travel routes you can get anyway in Europe on the day.

10. UK universities have created the greatest inventions across the History

The first test tube baby, hip replacements, fibre optics, and many more great discoveries are inventions came out of UK universities, and you might be next!

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Rawan May 26, 2018 1 Comment