04 July 2020
Attracting and retaining domestic students in Australia and New Zealand

For universities in Australia and New Zealand, attracting and retaining domestic students will be vital for survival. With the precarious nature of international travel right now, many international students are still being cautious and may choose not to enrol at an overseas university. 

That’s compounded by the difficulties of bringing in students from key territories like China, who are being advised to seriously consider their plans

So how, then, do you attract and retain domestic students? Especially in these difficult times? There are many approaches, and we are a strong advocate of peer recruitment

Connecting a future student with someone who is like them, from the same place or studying the same subject, is a powerful recruitment and marketing tool. 

Digital peer recruitment: “easy to jump on board”

The University of South Australia wanted to engage with prospects at every step of the application process – and they wanted to do it digitally.

As Carly Bell, Team Leader: International Admissions Conversion, says: “Students are moving towards chat, and for some this is a more comfortable platform than talking over the phone.”

Unibuddy was launched with around 20 existing ambassadors from the institution. As Carly explains: “It was easy for them to jump on board – they’re all young and very tech savvy. The conversations they are having are very similar to the conversations they have over the phone.”

3 months on from launching, UniSA’s diverse range of ambassadors have attracted hundreds of students – interested in 100 different courses.

An Intead report found that 65% of students applied to the universities where they were able to chat with a student ambassador.

Even when they chatted after applying, respondents reported increased eagerness to attend, feeling welcomed and encouraged.

Virtual events

The continued COVID-19 outbreak has led to an increased number of universities turning to virtual enrolment events. In March, there was a 900% increase in the number of events hosted on our Unibuddy Live platform compared to the previous month. And more students than ever are signing up from across the world.

The aim of these events is to connect with your students and create a sense of belonging – providing them reassurance and guidance on their Higher Education journey. We know that is the priority for you right now, and staying connected is more important than ever.

Domestic students that would usually have the opportunity to visit in person may be reluctant to travel to other regions of the country, or you may be putting off large-scale events. Virtual events are a perfect alternative – or complement – that ensures all students can get the ‘campus experience’ from their home. 

Virtual events offer even more that isn’t available offline: more depth and breadth of information, a truly personalised experience and a record of those important conversations.

Universities across the world are uncertain about the impact of the continued disruption brought by COVID19. But what is clear is that connecting with students, providing them with reassurance, guidance and consistent communication is essential. Through peer-to-peer interactions that boost confidence, and virtual events that create a sense of belonging – over 300 institutions around the world and top universities in Australia and New Zealand are mitigating the impact and staying connected with their students.

Experience it for yourself

Want to learn more about peer recruitment for universities across the Asia Pacific region? 

We’re hosting a virtual summit on July 23rd! The day will be dedicated to sharing best practice in how to make the most of your student voice.

It’ll take place on Unibuddy’s own virtual events platform – so you can see it in action for yourself

This is perfect for you if you’re an HE professional working in Student / International Recruitment or College Admissions.

The event will run from 10am-3.30pm SGT on Thursday 23rd July, including the opportunity to network throughout the event. You will:

  • Hear from some of our current partners, including the University of New England in Australia, and the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, to hear how they’ve taken the voice of their current students online
  • Learn top tips to engage your student ambassadors and harness their powerful voice
  • Be able to share marketing challenges and solutions with colleagues in the sector
  • Discover Unibuddy conversational data insights from the 3 million messages shared on Unibuddy so far

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