Student recruitment is a competitive business. Universities have faced their own challenges over the last year and have had to find ways to support their students in more ways than ever before. QS recently released a report on ‘Driving growth in student recruitment in a post-pandemic world’ and it raises some interesting points.
What students are looking for from a University has expanded and grown. It appears universities that are able to respond to student needs are going to do much better in terms of recruiting students.
According to the report, student needs can include the following:
- Access to mental health services: “The perceived importance of universities providing sufficient mental wellbeing support and mental health services has significantly increased in the last year”
- Decent investment in accommodation: “The implementation of lockdowns in student Halls of Residence has focused attention on the quality of life for students. Improving university accommodation is now seen to be the most valued way for universities (53%) to enhance the student experience and ensure they get the best return on their tuition fees. Universities need to communicate how they are allocating their resources so that students are better educated on how their tuition fees are divided up and spent.”
- Career support services: “Future career considerations are a significant priority when prospective students come to fill out their university applications. Universities need to reflect this in their support services, as prospective students anticipate that by the time they graduate, the job market will be at full strength.”
When you read these student considerations in our post pandemic world, you can see the impact of the last year in them and understand the importance of Universities to meeting these needs. More people than ever are struggling with mental health. Students faced lockdowns in their University accommodation, however good or bad it may be, and students are focusing on their careers and life after University.
Can Virtual Tools help address these needs?
We absolutely believe that they can. And they already are. Over the last decade, and last year especially, we’ve been creating online tools in order to give all audience groups the chance to explore campuses 24/7 from anywhere in the world. We use high quality immersive imagery and custom brand styling. We create virtual open days which showcase the best facilities as interactive 360 photos, layered with animated and accessible information hotspots, plus links to more information and calls-to-action.
Did you know that a virtual tool can help potential students explore your campus via an interactive map? Users can then group spots on the map that are of most potential interest to them. It’s also possible to create personalised “Day-in-the-life’ view, based on their preferred academic subject. At each location in a virtual open day, users can immerse themselves in a 360 photo or video scene, then learning more by reading text content or viewing embedded videos.
Virtual experiences can be used to meet the concerns of potential students and provide a virtual student support session, so that students can experience how your University supports mental health. They can also be used to take potential students on a virtual tour of your prize winning accommodation, showing them the University’s investment in this area. Rather than a list of what ex-students have gone on to achieve, an immersive video experience that achieves the same result and represents your institution could be created. With a virtual solution, there are so many ways to engage and connect with your next student.
Another benefit to virtual options, is that not only can they address the needs of the student but they can be watched and shared online over and over. If you have new state of the art accommodation or impressive student support facilities, you can be sure this will be shared with friends and family in no time. YouTube and Instagram are the most prominent social media platforms students use when researching and selecting Universities. 66% of prospective students use each.
So next time you consider a student recruitment plan, why not include virtual experiences? And demonstrate to students that you’re ahead of the game, and able to meet their needs in a relevant and current way. As ultimately, institutions that effectively demonstrate their commitment to these emerging priorities through digital means will be the ones to see success in student recruitment.