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Students link response time to teaching quality

The time it takes a university to respond to emails and enquires from international students affects how they view the institution’s overall teaching quality, according to a recent survey of more than 40,000 prospective students.

Lee Kong Chian lecture theatre at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. Volume of face-to-face teaching time and modern lecture facilities were also factors affecting students' perceptions of teaching quality. Photo: teddy-rised.

52% of survey respondents said they desired a response to their enquiry within 24 hours

When asked which factors indicate that a university provides quality teaching, 63% of respondents said “if the university responds quickly to my enquiry/emails”.

Over half (52%) of survey respondents said they desired a response to their enquiry within 24 hours and only 15% said they would be satisfied with a response longer than three days.

The responses are shown in Hobsons Solutions’ International Student Survey 2016 which received 43,000 responses from students around the globe.

“It has a wider impact than just how you are at administration”

Jamie Laird, head of market intelligence at Hobsons EMEA, said in the eyes of students, response times are a reflection of the university as a whole.

“It goes down to the level of how you engage with prospective students and whether you’re on top of communications and responding quickly but it has a wider impact than just how you are at administration,” he said. “It has an impact on your brand as a university.”

Other factors affecting the perception of quality teaching were topped by whether or not the teaching staff are highly qualified, the university’s global ranking, if it has a high volume of face-to-face teaching time and if it has a high graduate employment rate.

The annual report argues that universities need to improve their digital marketing activity to be more efficient at communicating with potential students and to expand student recruitment beyond major source markets like China, Nigeria and India.

Increasingly, digital marketing is evolving past easy-to-navigate websites to more data-driven, personalised recruitment, the report says.

88% of students said they would be interested in live chatting and real time messaging

Survey results show that depending on the region, phone calls are an important method of communication for students, but globally, 88% of students said they would be interested in live chatting and real time messaging.

Social messaging platforms like WeChat, WhatsApp and Facebook messenger also present opportunities for universities to personalise their interaction with students.

Just over 10% of survey respondents said they would like to receive social messages from a university (48% prefer email, 30% phone and 25% letters). But 94% of Nigerians students use WhatsApp, 97% of Chinese students use WeChat and 70% of US students use Snapchat.

Laird says these platforms fill the space between email and phone calls. “These text-based communications affect so many students because they’re not as formal as writing an email and we find that a lot of students when you phone them won’t answer or they feel awkward about the phone conversation,” he said.

“It’s difficult to get that easy, frank conversation going but you can over these text channels because people feel more at home.”

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