Building a higher education experience that resonates with international students depends upon knowing their educational motivations and expectations. Here’s how data can help.
Understanding the desires and expectations of prospective students is one of the most valuable tools for the strategic and marketing staff at your institution.
In knowing what prospective students want from their higher education experience, and the most influential factors in their decision-making process, universities can communicate and engage with prospective students better.
For those students wishing to study abroad, there is even more to consider than usual, such as what country they might study in and the practicalities and complexities of studying overseas.
Understanding the thought processes of prospective international students at every stage of this decision-making journey can help institutions to predict potential barriers and address them before they become an obstacle to enrollment.
In order to draw conclusions about the opinions of prospective students, your institution needs to have access to accurate data and interpret this data competently.
Prospective student opinions and mindsets
The best way to know what prospective students want from their higher education experience is simply to ask them.
QS’ International Student Survey (ISS) collates the views of tens of thousands of prospective international students annually to help universities make better informed decisions.
For example, the ISS 2020 revealed that 66% of prospective international students surveyed use social media as an initial research tool.
With this insight in mind, universities can then make any necessary changes to ensure they utilize this line of communication to reach students.
Pulse surveys are also a great way of tracking the opinions of students on current issues.
For example, the coronavirus outbreak has created many barriers that both students and institutions have had to quickly overcome, such as restrictions to international mobility and developing new approaches to education.
According to our report, How Universities can Support and Protect Prospective and Current Students in the Upcoming Academic Year, 75% of prospective international students surveyed claimed they would be interested in starting their studies online if they knew it would only be for a maximum of three months.
In knowing this, and other students’ perspectives on the coronavirus, institutions can adapt their approaching academic year to meet students’ demands and encourage enrollment.
By having regular and up-to-date data on how external factors might influence the decisions of prospective students, institutions can quickly adapt to meet shifting student needs.
Prospective student behavior and research
Observing prospective student behavior is also an excellent indicator of what matters the most as part of the higher education experience.
For example, how visitors to TopUniversities.com navigate the site shows what information they are seeking as part of the research stage of their decision-making process.
Equally, in knowing who these visitors are, their age, gender, and location, institutions can learn how to communicate with prospective students better.
For example, the country with the most visitors to TopUniversities.com is India, with 391,861 average monthly visitors since January 2019. These candidates are looking for both undergraduate and graduate-level study opportunities with 38% aged between 18-24 and 42% between 25-34.
In creating a more in-depth idea of who is interested in higher education, universities can create targeted marketing messages.
Education trends and predictions
There are many external factors that can affect the current and future state of higher education.
For example, a country’s shifting population can have a huge effect on its rates of higher education enrollment, both domestic and international.
With China’s aging population, and the fact that many students from China already travel overseas to study, universities in China may struggle to meet student recruitment targets.
This indicates that, in order to survive, Chinese universities may need to focus their efforts on recruiting more students from overseas.
Using data to make predictions about the state of higher education in various countries can help institutions plan for the future, with the ultimate aim of meeting their student recruitment targets.
The QS Student Insight Tracker was developed to help institutions navigate vast amounts of data and drill deep into the perspective of students from a range of different backgrounds.
The tracker utilizes data from the ISS, pulse surveys, online behavior from TopUniversities.com, and trusted external sources, to build an idea of how different student segments feel about various elements of international study.
The insights are then presented as a user-friendly online dashboard to ensure institutions can easily draw conclusions about who their prospective students might be, and how best to engage with them.
For more information about how your institution can utilize data, please download our free white paper: How to Leverage Student Data to Inform Your Institution’s Decision Making.