Why Your Speed of Response Can Impact Your International Student Recruitment

Waiting a few days or weeks to get back to prospective students? It could be hurting your university more than you realize.

Whether it’s initial enquiry management or helping students step-by-step through the admissions process, your university needs to be swift and timely when responding to prospective students.

Our recently released 2019 International Student Survey revealed the pressing importance of timely, quality responses to students.

When asked how quickly they’d expect a university to respond to their application and let them know if they’ve been accepted or not, respondents said:

  • Between one to two weeks: 26%
  • Between one day and a week: 25%
  • Between two weeks and a month: 24%
  • Between one or two months: 13%
  • Within 24 hours: 9%
  • Longer than two months: 3%

It’s clear that the majority of respondents expect to hear news of their acceptance or rejection between one week or one month from application.

What’s even more interesting is how students perceive a university based on the speed of their response, with many students viewing institutions with faster response times more favorably.

If a university got back to them quicker than expected, students stated that they would think the university was efficient at processing applications (77%) or that their application was very good (31%).

A minority perceived faster response times less positively, with some believing that the university would accept anyone regardless of their application (7%) or that the university didn’t take the time to analyze their application properly (5%).

Response expectations by country

When we break down these results by country, an interesting pattern emerges.

In Australia, prospective students expect faster response times with 17% wanting to hear back within 24 hours, 29% expecting to hear within one day or a week, and 29% expecting between one to two weeks.

Conversely, students in the United Kingdom and United States are less demanding:

  • Within 24 hours: 9% in the UK, and 5% in the US
  • Within one day or a week: 15% in the UK, and 11% in the US
  • Between one to two weeks: 28% in the UK, 24% in the US

If you’d like to discover more insights from the International Student Survey, download your free copy today.

Speed things up

All this data shows the importance of getting back to students in a timely and respectful manner, with the understanding and empathy that many will be anxiously anticipating the news.

Beyond responding to applications and informing students of any developments, your university should also ensure it is proactive in how it reaches out to and engages prospective students.

Acceptance goes both ways. Whilst students are waiting to hear whether they’ve got a place at your university, they’re also assessing your university for its responsiveness, how welcoming it is, and how it listens to and meets students’ needs.

If you’re taking a week or two to respond to a simple question from a prospective student, they may rethink their opinion of your university or positively engage with another, more responsive institution in the meantime.

You don’t want your university to be associated with slow, bureaucratic processes in an era where online learning, digitization, and innovative teaching practices are transforming the global higher education sector.

If these shifts in response times and enquiry management seem to be an overwhelming prospect for your already overworked team, it might be worth engaging an external agency to efficiently manage and track all student enquiries and admissions.

Want to learn more about streamlining your enquiry management and speeding up responses? Contact our QS Enrolment Solutions team now for a consultation.


About the Author:

As the B2B Content Marketing Manager, Sarah Linney is responsible for communicating the insights, research, and market analysis that have positioned QS as a thought leader in the higher education sector. After completing a Communications-Journalism degree at Charles Sturt University in Australia, Sarah worked in radio news and B2B print publishing before joining the content marketing sector. While working at a content marketing agency, Sarah was transferred to their New York office. She then led content marketing efforts at two tech startups in New York as a Content Manager before deciding to make the move to the UK and QS. 

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