ET: The TOEFL Search Service is available now, but we’ll be doing a formal launch later this month. Basically, we ask students when they register for the TOEFL test if they would like to be contacted by universities that are interested in recruiting. So it’s something students choose to become part of, which is nice for universities to know because that means that these are individuals that want to be contacted regarding international studies.
“It gives students extra value for their TOEFL registration, and extra visibility among universities”
Universities are then able to search through the students based on 26 criteria, through our partnership with Hobsons. Hobsons built the online platform and gives very good customer service in terms of helping universities refine their search, so they are able to identify the kind of students that really meet the parameters that they are looking for. We currently have more than 300,000 students who have opted in – it’s been very popular with students because it gives them extra value for their TOEFL registration, and extra visibility among universities.
The PIE: Have you had a lot of interest from universities?
ET: Yes we have, from universities around the world I’d say. I think the TOEFL service is very timely as more and more universities are finding their budgets cut for travel, yet are having increasing pressure put upon them to recruit more international students. We’ve been asked by universities for a long time if we would do this and I’m glad we’re finally been able to make it happen. Beyond recruiting numbers of students universities also want the right students, and this is a way to help them refine their search.
“Universities are able identify the kind of students that really meet the parameters that they are looking for”
The PIE: So after a student has shown willingness to be contacted, what happens next? How does the university contact them?
ET: The search service provides students’ email addresses, postal addresses and telephone numbers so a university can actually layer their marketing campaign using multimedia. So it’s flexible, it also integrates very nicely with university data systems. With Hobsons’ help universities have found it very easy to get started with using the data.
The PIE: How is demand for the TOEFL exam evolving? Which new markets are showing most new interest?