Over the past few years, technological advancements have forced industries to keep up with the changes in order to survive in a rapidly evolving world and match the demands of their audiences. For higher education marketing and recruitment teams, it has constantly been their priority to communicate in a language that translates best with their digitally native prospective students, which is why adopting more digital strategies has always been the way forward.
However, with the outbreak of Covid-19, universities implementing a digital approach is no longer a matter of preference, it is a matter of survival. The coronavirus outbreak has posed an extraordinary set of challenges on international student mobilities and global university partnerships have been significantly impacted.
Most education institutions in the UK expect to be worse off in the long and short term and the sector will be impacted significantly in the next 12 months with the following economic recession creating a “very long recovery period”. Given this uncertainty, five million prospective students across the globe have been looking to universities as a source of information, reassurance, and direction to communicate and plan their study abroad journey.
How is the higher education sector at risk?
As the Coronavirus crisis continues, more and more universities are forced to shut their campuses and shift onto virtual platforms in order to deliver their services.
Universities fear they will lose at least 80% of their foreign student numbers this year. According to a publication by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), every university expects to be impacted and for some the potential loss to income is projected to be greater than £100m as foreign students cancel their studies. And that is before you factor in that losing new students has a multi-year impact.
There are warnings that the impact of coronavirus will be “like a tsunami hitting the sector”.
In their investigation into the impact that Coronavirus will have on Global Higher Education, QS asked university representatives to share the biggest challenges facing their institution right now.
One representative responded, “Keeping our current students, faculty, and staff safe and healthy while also trying to keep normal operations running. We are also very concerned about enrollment for summer and fall.”
In addition, another stated that “There are also communication and distance study options issues that are creating ongoing problems as we iron out the details of who needs what information or which resources.”
As expected, global engagements and student mobility have been significantly impacted and although 21% of those surveyed said they were still hosting recruitment events on campus and 23% still plan to send representatives to international courses, these activities are looking increasingly unlikely as air travel is restricted and more nations close their borders.
Boost student recruitment efforts by embracing virtual platforms
Given the complications that have arisen from the current situation, what universities need to prioritise now more than ever is a bigger shift towards virtual communications. Social distancing measures mean that domestic students now face similar issues to those of international students who for years have had to approach university services through online systems, democratising accessibility to higher education.
In QS’ survey regarding which student recruitment activities had become more or less important as a result of the coronavirus to university professionals and student recruiters, 59% of respondents said in-person events and fairs was less important, 75% said digital events were more important and 73% stated digital marketing was the best approach forward.
Student recruitment in UK higher education institutions is extremely competitive, demand-based, and costly. Today’s digital age of students – Generations Zs and millennials – are demanding information to be smart, digitally accessible and personalised to their needs.
Utilising ed-tech tools can help universities stay connected to their students and continue to effectively recruit the brightest talent virtually. Artificial intelligence and cloud technologies are already making it possible for companies to continue their tasks remotely. Universities can achieve the same, if not greater, results by deploying smart SaaS infrastructures to open access worldwide so that operations are not severely hindered by the impact of Covid-19.
How can help?
At Proodle Solutions, we have designed the latest innovative product in education technology to completely transform the international student enrolment experience for both higher education marketing and recruitment teams, as well as the next batch of intelligent prospective students.
Proodle’s state-of-the-art technological solution streamlines student application and enrolment processes and empowers student recruiters to carry out operational activities entirely facilitated by a mobile app. From online forums to virtual reality interaction, Proodle removes uncertainties about missing out on the authenticity of face-to-face interactions and brings it to life on a virtual platform. Proodle simplifies the process of creating opportunities for recruitment advisors to engage with prospective students, so they can manage peer interactions and configure page content that will be updated on users’ devices.
During uncertain times such as this, it is key that universities take the opportunity to embrace the digital resources available to ensure they maintain an effective flow of operations and stay connected to their students. Ed-tech is the way forward. Capitalising on digital strategies now will only reap greater rewards in the long run.