Business Schools have always been a source of innovation, but never more so than during this turbulent period.
Business Schools rushed to move teaching online last year, displaying incredible versatility and adaptability, utilising technology and digital learning like never before.
As summer approached, student recruitment went fully virtual. Without Open Days, visit days, fairs or international travel – schools found a new way to connect directly with their future students remotely. Many turned to Unibuddy, an online platform for digital student recruitment, who reported a 900% increase in the number of virtual events hosted on their platform.
It has all served as a reminder of the importance of staying connected with students, and maintaining open communication channels. Not just speaking to your prospects, but listening too.
We conducted analysis of the millions of messages sent by prospective students, to understand what information they are seeking. It provides a unique insight into their priorities and concerns.
Business school prospects were 67% more likely to ask about work experience while studying compared to other students. They were 62% more likely to ask about careers and employability. As you probably know, these students are incredibly career-focused and are seeking this information to influence their decision.
As we enter an uncertain period for the economy and the world, promoting the careers support and guidance offered by an institution could be a key factor. 2021 enrolment will no doubt be influenced by the jobs market, and now is an opportunity for institutions to stand out to their future students by promoting the work they are doing in this field.
Region informs priorities
Naturally, where your students are from informs their priorities. Business school prospects from the UK are 182% more likely to ask about the workload of a course, and 84% more likely to ask about the modules. That suggests they are very interested in the structure of the course, and whether it suits them as an individual.
Prospects from Asia, meanwhile, are 16% more likely to ask about careers, while students from Europe are 24% more likely to ask about the structure of a course.
Unibuddy Partnerships Manager, Jack Craig, said: “Having worked in a business school, I have a good understanding of what prospective students are looking for. But the granular, quantitative data we’ve been able to draw out from this study is incredibly detailed and is essential reading for anyone working with future students at a business school.”
“Listening to students matters now more than ever, and what we’ve learnt about their priorities will help you speak to them in a relevant and meaningful way.”
But above all, a key learning from this period is just how much students’ expect a digital experience. During these difficult times, business schools have been able to reach more students, and a more diverse cohort, through the smart application of technology.
Eva Peeters, Student Recruitment Manager at Antwerp Management School, described how the Belgium school has adapted to a digital approach. She said: “email and direct messaging have always been our most-used channels. However, the biggest change for us has been taking our events online.”
Using Unibuddy, Antwerp Management School was able to run both large and small-scale virtual events. Those events had a higher turnout rate than offline events, and attracted a more diverse audience, including from countries they had never targeted before.
“We should not forget these students are digital natives, they grew up with these channels and for them it is not unusual to have a video call with a professor.”
“Prospective students are facing a lot of uncertainty – they’re worried. It’s good that they can hear from current students that are going through that scenario right now, and how the solutions are working. It might not be their dream answer, but at least they have an honest and reliable source of information.”