Maximising Conversion: Leveraging university staff and current students at the right time

Maximising Conversion: Leveraging university staff and current students at the right time

In recent years, more and more students from around the globe have chosen to take on the rewarding and enriching challenge of studying overseas.  Over the last 4 years, Australia (+61%) and New Zealand (+13%) have both seen significant increases in tertiary education enrolments by international students.

At QS Enrolment Solutions (QSES), we engage with over 550,000 new international prospective students every year on behalf of our partner universities. To create easier lines of access and referrals, we wanted to have a better understanding of who students were speaking to at a university while making their study decisions.

Our market research team conducted a survey between May – June 2019, and the key findings are presented below.

We hope this research will help in maximising your conversion efforts and to fully utilise already stretched recruitment resources.

QSES 2019 Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Survey

The 2019 International Student Survey states that 60% of prospective international students want to speak to a current student when considering their study options, so our P2P survey digs deeper to find out:

  • If prospective international students had spoken to current students when deciding where to study?
  • Whether they found the information they received from current students to be useful
  • Are there some things that they would prefer to speak to university staff about?

We found that prospective international students reach out to both university staff and current students, but it is clear that they do so at different times of their journey, seeking different types of information from each.

Value of Current Students in Recruitment

The P2P survey results indicate that prospective international students prefer speaking to current students about experiential information. They want to understand the current students’ opinions and advice on how they are finding the university culture and experience.

While prospective international students do find information from current students useful, it is important to know that they are generally not the most preferred information source. According to the 2019 International Student Survey’s ranking of ‘important information sources’, current students are ranked lower than university staff, international education agents and friends and family.

 Importance of University Staff in Recruitment

University staff are commonly viewed as the most important source of information.  Students rely on them for administrative advice and help getting through the application and enrolment processes.

Maximising your Recruitment Resources

Finally, the survey revealed that prospective international students generally preferred to speak to current students before they had submitted an application. Current students can provide information on available social and cultural support, as well as accommodation advice, which can help to quell their fears of fitting in and making a smooth transition to university.

There is also value in leveraging current students later in the journey after prospective students receive an offer.  Current students can help create excitement about events and prepare them for the culture nuances when they arrive at their study destination.

The preference for speaking to university staff remains high across all stages of the student journey.

Ensuring prospective international students have direct access to staff to clarify questions about fees, application processes and course requirements in the early stages is critical.

Leveraging staff with persuasive sales skills at the post-offer stage can ensure any doubts expressed during the final stages of conversion are addressed directly and supported with clear benefits and unique selling points (USPs).

Two-Pronged Approach

Taking into account all of the above, a two-pronged approach is recommended to maximise conversion activities.

By leveraging both university staff and current students at the right time for prospective students, universities can most effectively utilise their limited resources and make sure that their incoming students are equipped with the information they need to adjust to their new surroundings and fit in socially and academically.

Download the infographic here.




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