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Admission issues in spotlight at QS UK HE Festival

University delegates gathered together last week to discuss the future challenges of international admissions as part of the QS Quacquarelli Symonds’ UK Higher Education Festival at London’s prestigious National Theatre.

QS's Edward Harcourt opened the event in central London. Photo: The PIE News

Operational private sector support for university admissions teams is becoming an increasingly popular solution

“We have a few of the answers, but I don’t think we have all the answers and we’ll be listening to how we can adapt to help you meet the challenges you face in an institutional context,” explained senior vice president & managing director of QS Enrolment Solutions, Edward Harcourt in his opening address.

Citing the recent HolonIQ report that forecasts a doubling of international student spend by 2030 and reaching a global market value of at least US$10 trillion, Harcourt highlighted many of the challenges that increased recruitment poses for their clients.

“Volume growth in the post-Covid world, given the geopolitical realities that we face, actually presents a sizeable risk and that market diversification is really where every institution is wanting to focus,” he said.

“Market dynamics have changed, EU student numbers have dropped, China is forecast to flatline or decline,” Harcourt continued. “What is the cost of your customer acquisition? Can you do it alone as an institution any more?

“I believed that back when I was international director of Birmingham we could do it by ourselves. Now, Birmingham is one of QS’ strategic partners.”

“Volume growth in the post-Covid world actually presents a sizeable risk”

Some of the strategic challenges discussed included agent management, diversity and consumer behaviour with guest speakers including global higher education specialist Vincenzo Raimo, behavioural psychologist Nisa Bayindhir and Funmi Olonisakin, vice president for global engagement at King’s College London.

The PIE also contributed to the debate with director of insight Nicholas Cuthbert leading a discussion on the types of ‘admissues’ universities are facing, a word accidentally coined by QS’s business development director for UK and Europe, Andrew Plant, when describing the reality for admissions teams.

One of the main discussion points focused on student expectations in relation to communications from their chosen university.

The QS international student survey 2021 revealed 84% of enquirers expect a response in a week and nearly 50% of applicants expected a response within one week. A further 66% of students expected to hear from their chosen university weekly once they had accepted their offer.

Operational private sector support for university admissions teams is becoming an increasingly popular solution with QS among others offering white-label solutions in application processing and customer communications to support the student journey and improve conversion and retention rates.

QS works with more than 25 UK university partners including King’s College London, Loughborough University and University of Birmingham to increase their service capacity.

However, the input from QS is invisible to applicants as it is integrated into the current university admissions structure and systems.

See a photo gallery from the event here.

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