Surveying over 5,200 prospective international students, the report saw LinkedIn rank as the third most popular social media platform for information behind Facebook and YouTube, with 39% of respondents indicating they consulted it.
“The best way to develop those soft skills is perhaps not in the classroom, but on the job”
According to the report, the increased use of LinkedIn as a source of information was due to older demographics considering New Zealand, with only a quarter of respondents indicating they were part of Generation Z – under the age of 22 years.
“We know that older prospects have different social media usage tendencies than their younger counterparts,” said Davorin Vrdoljak, QS Enrolment Solutions’ vice president operations.
“It is vital that New Zealand-based institutions carefully choose which channels they use to promote their courses and communicate with prospects, in order to better reach the types of prospects most likely to choose New Zealand over other countries.”
The 2019 report also marked the first standalone publication on New Zealand, after previous editions clustered results with Australia, which Vrdoljak said was a reflection that while similar, both countries offered “a distinct product in a crowded marketplace”.
While both countries listed Facebook and YouTube as the top two social media platforms to source information, Instagram ranked third and LinkedIn fifth in Australia, the inverse of New Zealand’s results.
Similarly, half of the respondents considering Australia said they were part of Generation Z, resulting in 37% indicating they intended to study at an undergraduate level.
New Zealand, however, only had 21% of respondents indicate they were considering undergraduate studies, while 76% said they intended to undertake postgraduate coursework or research.
“[Students] really do want to consult as widely as they possibly can”
According to the survey results, those considering New Zealand were substantially less likely to consult with their parents or other family members about their study destination.
Only 34% said their parents had the most influence on their decision, compared a global average of 44%.
A further 17% also indicated nobody had the most influence on their decision on where to study.
QSES market research and data manager Chris Strods said the lower levels of parental engagement by prospective students was also likely due to the older demographics considering New Zealand as their study destination.
Speaking with The PIE News, Strods added that while prospective students to New Zealand were less likely to talk with their parents, there were still comparable rates of consultation with career advisers, friends and teaching and school staff as the rest of the world.
“It’s probably one of the biggest decisions somebody would make in their life to that point, both financially and in the broader context of their life,” he said.
“Getting as much information about their destination country as possible beforehand is something that is really vitally important, so I think it’s a reflection of the fact that prospects really do want to consult as widely as they possibly can.”
The 2019 survey also found the vast majority of students believed employers valued the development of soft skills and expected their university to provide them with opportunities to develop them.
“It is vital that New Zealand-based institutions carefully choose which channels they use to promote”
Strods said universities needed to ensure they were providing opportunities such as professional experience, work-integrated learning, internships, and placements, which would help students get exposure to the New Zealand work culture.
“The best way to develop those soft skills is perhaps not in the classroom, but on the job,” he said.
“Being able to facilitate those experiences where New Zealand’s international students can get out there and experience the workforce is important.”
New Zealand’s International Education Strategy 2018-2030 placed the development of “global citizens” as one of its three goals, aiming to help students cultivate the skills needed to live and work.