“More than that, it’s also about diversifying our university. We have over 11,000 international students now – which is a little over half of our total student body – but they’re from 118 different countries and that that adds a huge amount, culturally, to our institution and to the student experience.”
Understand decision making
It’s hard to influence students’ decisions if you don’t know how they make them. Understanding the things that matter to them forms a crucial part of Torrens University’s strategy.
“Typically, students pick the country, then they look at the course, then the city and finally the institution. Australia is a pretty easy sell and students already have a good idea of what that looks like.
“For most institutions in Adelaide, the next challenge would be selling the city. Some students might be drawn to Sydney or Melbourne. But we have the advantage of campuses across Australia. We can say ‘you can study in Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, or online. We also have a design school in New Zealand’.”
And peer recruitment will grow in importance as students turn to those that have made the journey before them. “People look at reviews of restaurants before they eat there, and a dining experience can’t even be compared with the amount of investment that you put into a university qualification,” said Mark. “People want to know what other people think and if I were to embark on an educational experience, I couldn’t think of a better way to to get an understanding than from a current or past student for that matter.”
But Torrens isn’t looking to abandon all in-person for digital. “As an institution, ultimately, you still need to be on the ground to cater to those students who are seeking the face-to-face learning experience. It’s important to be aware that students have different needs and want a variety of options, whether that’s face to face, online, or a hybrid of both. We currently offer all of these options and will continue to do so to ensure we are delivering learning experiences that suit all of our students.”
Take a risk
Torrens University is a new university, growing quickly and with an experienced team that’s willing to try new things. For Torrens University, risk-taking is itself a form of risk mitigation.
When they offered the Chinese market a fully online course, when they recruited from lesser-considered territories, when they invested in campuses across the country. These actions seemed like big risks, out of step with the rest of the sector, but paid dividends as market trends moved in their direction.
These actions may appear risky to some, but have paid dividends as market trends moved in their direction.
“Risk is not a negative,” said Mark, “if you don’t take risks, you’re not going to maximize your opportunities.”