The COVID-19 pandemic unleashed a plethora of challenges on global higher education. The crisis has had a massive impact on higher education, from student recruitment to classroom delivery — it has impacted every element of higher education in some manner. Navigating through the crisis has made the study abroad process even more complex for international aspirants.
Prior to the pandemic, a significant number of Indian students were flying to popular study abroad destinations, and statistics bear testimony to it. As per the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, which keeps a tab on the global flow of tertiary-level students, the number of Indian students studying abroad in 2019 was 461,792. The countries that registered the high influx of Indian students were the United States of America, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
COVID-19 indubitably dampened the spirits of many Indian students aspiring to study abroad, but it couldn’t throttle the aspirations completely. Thus, despite the raging pandemic, a total of 71769 Indian students were studying abroad in 2021, as per the data released by the Ministry of External Affairs. The figures exemplify the conviction of the students to hold on to their dreams despite the odds. The fortitude exhibited by students can only survive if foreign institutions provide the required scaffolding.
Thus, it becomes imperative for higher education institutions to help aspiring students steer through the process and adapt to the new normal education model from start to finish. For this, a thorough understanding of the evolving needs of the students and investment In technology is a must.
Most major global institutions are attempting to tap into the enormous talent pool of Indian students. The rising cult of the Made-in-India CEO with a foreign degree is causing the rest of the globe to turn east and consider India as a potential talent acquisition destination. The recent appointment of Parag Agarwal as the CEO of Twitter Inc., who joins a long list of stalwarts in the IT and non-tech sectors, has highlighted the importance of onboarding more Indian students.
Providing information about crucial support services is a must to alleviate the concerns and help Indian students fret less about studying abroad. In a survey by QS International Student Survey (ISS), Indian students were asked to select the sorts of information that would help them feel more at ease about studying abroad, the majority, comprising of 52%, opted to talk with other foreign students at the school. To better understand why Indian students may have reservations about studying abroad, the survey found that their top worries were safety (57%) followed by the cost of living (76%), finding work (63%), and scholarship availability (59%).
The survey laid key insights on what drives Indian students’ higher-ed decisions. Return on investment and graduate employability emerged as the top factors when considering studying abroad. Additionally, a welcoming environment and support services, especially financial, were other key factors. For both long and short–term success in enrolling Indian students, a strategy that considers their particular tastes and requirements should be the key focus for universities. Leveraging digital marketing and AI-based technology to connect with and recruit this unique demographic will be pivotal.
While recruitment and marketing are pivotal to higher education institutions, pioneering them in unique demographics like India requires a thorough understanding of the niche requirements and expectations of the country’s study abroad aspirants. To accomplish this, universities need to scout for organizations studying these patterns and expectations. The focus should be on ed-tech firms that can connect deserving students to top universities in the initial stages at scale. AI-enabled platforms that act as a reservoir of information, filling in all the information pits with regards to the concerned university and enabling students to successfully apply to the university will be a win-win for both the university as well as the students. This collaboration will not only help students experience a smooth application process but also enhance the long-term relationship between the institution and the student.
Organizations can provide universities with rigorous market research, content development, design, and analytics services. Moreover, they can help universities reach out to potential students. A survey conducted by iSchoolConnect revealed that 71% of study abroad aspirants find recruitment agents helpful in the study abroad admissions process.
Data analytics is indubitably the future of sustainable higher education. Universities are harnessing the power of the data-crunching technologies to improve their recruitment and enrolment figures. With AI-enabled tools, universities have experienced a rise in recruitment and retention at a fraction of the cost. Predictive analytics is emerging to be an important part of universities gauging applicants, not just from the lens of enrollment but also admission from retention.
Enrollment strategies should be charted with broad timelines to not just aim for enrollment but completion of degrees. This should be stressed upon as statistics have it- Indian students want interaction with foreign students on campus. So, retention of students and completion of courses helps the university hype their graduates or on-campus students through testimonials, case studies, awards, etc., thus adding to the prospective student’s trust and enhancing the credibility of your institution’s brand. Institutions may particularly emphasise their Indian alumni network by collaborating with the relevant departments to give more success stories of inspiring Indian alumni.
Ed-tech companies are transforming the study abroad landscape and enabling universities across the globe to adapt to a more data-driven approach. iSchoolConnect product suite is a unique AI-powered stack of tools that assist universities globally ease the admissions process. A major feat of the product suite is the enrollment centre. It is designed to support partner universities in their recruitment, enrollment, and admission initiatives. This all-in-one platform is an end-to-end technological solution driven with human support. The diverse set of features of these tools enables universities to have wider outreach and visibility. Let us explore how:
Marketing & Outreach: The Enrollment centre allows you to market your institutions to millions of students by creating your university microsite on the iSchoolConnect platform.
Additionally, our personalized marketing efforts through conduits like email marketing, social media marketing and video marketing, promote your institution to the right talent pool.
In-country representation: iSchoolConnect’s in-country representatives visit schools and attend fairs on behalf of our partner institutions. This drill helps to nurture in-country partnerships with educational Institutions and promote your brand through in-campus workshops and events.
Lead Nurturing: The lead nurturing is a conversion focused lead and funnel management platform that helps institutions to systematically approach; a) application target nurturing, and b) enrollment target nurturing.
Enrollment Management: Our enrollment management tool helps you process student applications faster using AI. This tool eliminates the dependency on human resources and aids your institution in:
Overall, the enrollment center is the perfect amalgamation of tools that help institutions catapult their enrollment and engagement figures.
AI’s relevance in the higher education sector is continuously expanding owing to the preference shown by Millennials and Gen Z towards automated systems. Recruiting, admissions, remote learning, student achievement, and retention are all areas where AI technology is gaining traction in higher education. With regards to the recruitment and admissions process, tools like Virtual Interview Analyzers, Essay Graders, and AI-powered chatbots, are gaining momentum worldover.
Advanced chatbots are proving to be effective tools for providing information to applicants and streamline the complex process of enrolment. They help reduce the response time and thus help plug the lead management leak. According to data experts, the response time for leads must be 5 minutes or less. This may seem humanly impossible but can be achieved by leveraging AI-enabled chatbots.
AI chatbots have the ability to significantly boost enrolment and save money. Many prestigious universities across the globe have already integrated this tool into their admissions processes.
67% of study abroad aspirants use search engines to garner initial information on international institutions. During this initial stage of their search, 9 out of 10 students are undecided about the school they want to attend. Engaging students at this stage will help universities generate a greater number of applicants. A comprehensive SEO strategy including pushing content through blogs, social media, mobile-responsive web design, and keyword targeting can help your website appear more coherent and informative and get listed in the top search results.
Dynamic engagement strategies that evolve and cater to the changing needs of the demographic go a long way in increasing the visibility of the institution. The source and medium of information for students have significantly shifted to social media platforms and timelines are not just confined to friends and family updates but present news, research, and motivation as well.
Edtech and digital marketing businesses that operate within these demographics and use social media can assist the universities in establishing a strong digital presence. The local partner can assist in understanding the values and objectives of Indian students, which will aid in structuring the university's enrolment strategy.
Boosting enrollment makes it critical to reflect pertinent data on the university website, as well as adapt to new technological advancements. Simultaneously, working and engaging with native ed-tech companies that use cutting-edge technology to bridge the gap between the institution and the student can up your game in the enrollment ring.