IIE Network - Fall 2013 - (Page 30)

TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS The Rise of Real-Time, Online International Recruitment By Laura Montgomery THE OLD MAXIM “people buy from people” is no less true in the world of international higher education than in commercial marketing. Various studies and anecdotal evidence indicate that the most influential information for prospective international student comes from individual people—peers, parents, but also university representatives. As worldwide competition for the best and brightest continues to intensify, institutions serious about international recruitment will keep ramping up their offering of personalized outreach. Yet bringing them to you—that is, getting a prospect to come to campus for a tour and information session—is obviously an obstacle in the international context. And as budgets tighten, sending representatives or hiring agents to recruit abroad is becoming increasingly challenging. At the same time, students around the world are used to getting information immediately and in a format that suits their mobilefriendly lifestyles. We can therefore expect the next stage in the evolution of Web-based recruitment to be based on a growing set of online technology tools that allow schools to provide real-time, personalized information, advice and service to prospective students anywhere in the world. “Join us Online, at this Date and Time” For many institutions, offering interactive online sessions at specific dates and times is the easiest and most cost-effective way to personally engage with international as well as domestic students via the web. Offering group text chat sessions is one of the more technically basic approaches. These often have a specific theme, and involve university staff or students and alumni responding to prospective students’ questions. A group chat might take place in a window embedded into a page of the university’s website, or might even take place via Twitter. The Chicago Booth MBA program, for instance, uses Twitter hashtags to track questions and answers during scheduled chat sessions on topics such as earning an MBA from a woman’s perspective and alumni perspectives on the impact of their degree. Moving up the ladder in terms of both technology as well as potential for establishing a strong human connection are webcasts and videoconferences. Inexpensive webcasting services such as WebEx and Adobe Connect allow anyone with a video camera and a microphone on their computer to start broadcasting. Prospective students can tune in from a PC, laptop, or even a mobile phone. Bocconi University, a private institution in Italy, is one of many institutions already using video technologies for the purposes of international recruitment. From a special broadcasting room they set up in 2012, they host regular webcasts and take one-on-one video appointments with prospective international and domestic students. Prospective students anywhere in the world can meet faculty members, listen to a lecture, or talk directly to admissions staff. 30 “Connect with us Right Here, Right Now” Today’s students are accustomed to communication forms that are not only quick and convenient, but also immediately available and personally tailored. With the overwhelmingly popular use of communication tools like texting, Skype, Facetime and others, the current generation of prospective students has come to expect immediate, ondemand service via new platforms rather than waiting for a scheduled information session or getting in touch via telephone or even email. With so many free chat programs available, some institutions are already responding to this demand by offering regular extensive workday hours when they can be reached via Skype, Windows Live, Google Talk or Yahoo! chat. As just a couple of examples, students anywhere in the world interested in Central Washington University can have a Skype video chat with an international student recruiter between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Pacific time; those interested in business studies in France can do the same with a representative of Audencia Nantes School of Management. But there is a next step to take for institutions that want to be even more proactive in establishing a personal connection with someone who might otherwise remain just a casual website visitor. This would be the one-on-one chat solutions that are integrated directly into the university’s website, similar to those we have become accustomed to seeing on online shopping sites. Students and parents alike are growing accustomed to this kind of service when they look for information online, and their expectations may begin to include university websites. The University of Texas at Arlington’s Department of Undergraduate Recruitment uses a one-to-one chat feature on its recruitment pages and has trained students answer questions from prospective international and domestic students. The school hopes that this chat software will benefit their conversion rate by increasing the number of inquiries and creating a sense of familiarity between the institution and prospective students. Carl Esposito, assistant director of undergraduate recruitment at UT Arlington, described the added benefit of being able to gather metrics on how the chat is used: “It also helps us understand the traffic patterns of ‘stealth’ applicants—we can track the pages where visitors are using the chat function most, and which pages might cause a visitor to stop the application process.” The software also records transcripts of the chat sessions, which staff can analyze later, for example, to identify FAQs. This kind of one-to-one chat platform works well in facilitating outbound student flows, as well. In February 2013 the University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) implemented chat on all UC campus sites in an effort to increase application and participation rates among UC students interested in studying abroad. UCEAP Director Gordon Schaeffer commented, “Our [yield rate from applicant to enrolled student] is already up by three percent. This chat software is especially great during times of budget cuts. Universities have to do more with less and one-to-one chat helps the staff members do their job better and provide better service to student applicants.” www.iie.org/iienetworker http://www.iie.org/iienetworker

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Network - Fall 2013

A Message from Allan E. Goodman
Megatrends: Predicting the Future of International Education
Considering Study Abroad’s Past to Prepare for its Future
The Promise of International Education: Building a More Just and Elevated Civil Society
Global Research and Commercialization: An Under-the-Radar Next Big Thing
Clustering Innovation and Industry: New Opportunities for Europe
Connecting the Dots: Integrating Engagement with International Stakeholders
The Rise of Real-time, Online International Recruitment
Hold on to Your Hats, MOOCs... Here Come the TOQUES!
The Global Youth Engagement Platform: A Peace Corps for the 21st Century
Growing Globally Competent Students to Achieve True Internationalization
Beyond Ourselves: Embracing Our Global Responsibilities
India: Expansion, Equity, Excellence
The Growing World of Collaborative Internationalization: Taking Partnerships to the Next Level
From Multi-national Universities to Education Hubs to Edu-glomerates?
Advertisers Index
Beyond the Numbers: The Who, How and What of Global Student Mobility

IIE Network - Fall 2013