The booking site, formerly known as UniGuru and now rebranded as Hotcourses India, will provide personalised online counselling from the company’s own India-based educational counsellors, allowing students to engage in real-time conversations via Skype, phone, email, live chat and SMS.
The online platform will be supported on the ground by face-to-face counselling services for students and their families, provided at the newly opened drop-in centres in Chennai and New Delhi.
“This is the first step in revolutionising the traditional agency process”
“This is the first step in revolutionising the traditional agency process, just as the internet has changed the travel agency business over the last 15 years,” said Hotcourses CEO Mike Elms.
He described the move into a virtual agency service as “a natural extension of our brand.”
“We thought that given there was this appetite for students to apply online virtually, maybe we should help these students throughout the whole process right through to enrolment,” he told The PIE News.
India has traditionally been a strong market for the company and the high demand for searching and booking courses online among Indian students made the country an easy choice for the roll out.
Some 5,000 applications were made through the UniGuru university course search and application site last year.
In its first year as an agency, Hotcourses India will work with around 50 universities across the USA, the UK, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.
The universities will range from high ranking Russell Group institutions to less academically demanding providers to provide students with a cross-section of different prices and locations.
“The ultimate success will be how many enrolments we get through it for the universities,” said Elms.
The site also features a timeline providing information on the stages of going abroad from finding a course and test prep to applying for a visa and securing funding.
Indian students enrolled at higher education institutions across the globe are also available to offer peer advice to prospective students through Hotcourses’ video-based online technology.
After a year operating in India, the company will introduce the service in other countries were Hotcourses already has a web presence and “demand is from universities that are recruiting” said Elms.
Last year Hotcourses was taken off the market as Elms decided to focus on long-term plans to provide students with search, application and enrolment services.
In 2013 the company introduced its application service, i-Apply, alongside its already established UK university study directory and HotcoursesAbroad which provides listings for international study and is available on a network of 20 local sites in 15 languages.