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Hotcourses student survey reveals trends and digital virtues

Career services and international alumni examples are both among the key factors for prospective international students, when reviewing universities’ promotional literature, according to the Hotcourses Group International Student Survey 2018.

The survey highlighted "Shifting interests, preferences and motivations" for students. Picture: Hotcourses Group

The way universities need to advertise to students is undergoing a transformation

The newly released document also reveals that HEIs only control two of the six online resources most used to find international study placements, making tags on social media and institutional listings on third party sites ever more crucial.

“A lot of schools have started to do Facebook Live videos, which are great”

“Generation Z students are more marketing savvy and digitally native than any of their predecessors,” the survey report states, with the knock-on effect that university direct marketing may no longer hold the sway it once did with the prospective mobile student market.

Laura Holmes, head of client partnerships at Hotcourses USA told The PIE News that separating social media channels for international recruitment from the main channels have boosted prospective student engagement.

“The international offices are creating [pages] for themselves where they can promote when they’re travelling [to recruitment fairs] or when they’re doing fun international activities on campus. A lot of schools have started to do Facebook Live videos, which are great,” she said.

The report notes that all prospective students use multiple digital channels to research international opportunities, with ‘search engines’ being the most popular. However, only 11% of respondents said they used universities’ own social medias. Instead, many more (18.9%) used university search sites.

Offline, university brochures remain popular (15.7%) though fewer than 10% of prospective students said they would attend a student fair.

“I think there will always be a component of that face-to-face recruitment, but there’s only so much travelling that you an do.” “In order to get that global reach… they have to diversify their resources,” Holmes added.

Along with the heightened importance of employment-related concerns, even before matriculation, the survey results cement the fact that the way universities need to advertise to students is undergoing a transformation. The chance to gain work experience while studying abroad also topped the motivation to study abroad, with post-study work opportunities in the destination country also making it into the top three ‘reasons why’.

As the report itself notes, it is unsurprising that financial requirements topped the answers for concerns related to international study, with 23.5% of respondents citing money as a worry. However, this is an explanation as to why post-graduation work opportunities were also cited highly.

3,298 Hotcourses users took part in the survey, across 12 source markets. 68% of respondents said they were very likely to study abroad, with 48% saying they were intended to use an education agent during the application process.

Further, Canada and Australia topped the list of preferred destinations, with the UK in third and the US in fourth. New Zealand, Singapore, Ireland and Malaysia were also mentioned.

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