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Secrets of conversion and retention across multiple regions

Universities are becoming sceptical of recruitment companies that leverage artificial intelligence and digital platforms to source students. Using AI to flood an institution’s admissions funnel with international applications can do more harm than good – for the educational institution, for the companies, and for the students themselves.

"Our retention and graduation rates are the truest metric of the recruitment strategy"

Institutions are far less concerned with the volume of applications than with the quality of applications they receive. Reviewing large numbers of applications from prospective students who ultimately aren’t admissible wastes valuable time that would be better invested in the kind of candidates they do want – candidates who will not only convert but will persist through to graduation.

And while most admissions officials acknowledge that today AI, data analytics and digital outreach are absolute must-haves if they are to properly target and expand their markets, they are not enough to make the right kinds of connections with prospective students. Knowledgeable, trained, in-country experts who can provide in-person interaction with high-quality candidates not only propel the recruitment process, they provide crucial analysis and feedback for refining it.

It’s the combination of technology and people that makes the difference – especially AI-enabled people. These elements work together at EduCo, with our constantly refined digital platform Accelerate, our decade of data on more than 100,000 applications and student outcomes, and our global network of recruitment managers who work one-on-one with agents recruiting from 90+ countries. The formula is successful – our typical retention rate is better than 95% – because it creates efficiencies that didn’t previously exist.

“It’s the combination of technology and people that makes the difference”

With a history of being an education provider across multiple destinations, our retention and graduation rates are the truest metric of the recruitment strategy. EduCo has put metrics in at every stage of the recruitment cycle, from inquiry to application to accepted offer – and when we don’t hit the metric in a source market, we look for what’s not working and make appropriate adjustments to messaging and support levels.

Our system’s data analysis and ‘Course Advisor’ algorithm determine a prospective students propensity to commence to programs at specific schools. They allow us to determine what a committed student looks like – not just to start, but to graduate. Our AI helps predict which students are most likely to enrol and allows us to start conversion earlier in the recruitment process, not in the final stage.

Just as important, they allow us to screen out students who are the wrong fit and focus our time and resources more effectively on those who are the right fit.

Hard data helps to optimise the approach, especially when tailoring recruitment messaging and outreach for a specific nation or a micro-market within that nation. But we can’t rely completely on digital data analysis. The merging of hard, historical data and in-country, feet-on-the-ground agent feedback is crucial to recruiting and to expanding market reach. Agents need access to the right information in the right format at the right time to help a prospective student. Agents provide crucial information about local conditions in a micro-market to refine the shape and use of that information locally.

“The merging of hard, historical data and in-country, feet-on-the-ground agent feedback is crucial to recruiting”

Hard data may be relatively new to the admissions process, which traditionally has relied more heavily on personal interaction. But in today’s pandemic-weary world, hard data and analytics and AI are necessary to drive admissions decisions and to expand recruitment markets. AI, data analysis and digital platforms can help ensure that an institution’s messages are heard by the right prospective students – and can help identify the right time to reach students in their enrolment journey, when they are most likely to be listening.

EduCo Accelerate’s predictive algorithms create a smarter, more efficient recruitment process that empowers agents to counsel more right-fit students more effectively and in a shorter period of time. And that secures admissions for more international students with better outcomes at the universities they wish to attend. As our retention rate demonstrates, these students are not only admitted and enrolled, but the vast majority become successful graduates – the optimal outcome for those students and the educational institutions we partner with.

About the authors: This is a sponsored post from EduCo Accelerate.

Adam Roberts is the Senior Vice President of EduCo Accelerate APAC and has over 20 years’ experience in the international education space across public and private institutions worldwide. Most recently he has led the digital transformation of EduCo’s global marketing and recruitment operations and overseen the creation and launch of the intelligent digital platform known as Accelerate. Using 10 years of data from student outcomes, the platform is designed to improve conversion and retention rates for partner institutions.



Gareth Topp joined EduCo Accelerate as Director of Business Development for the UK and Europe in December 2021.  Prior to joining EduCo, Gareth spent the past 15 years in roles for the British Council, the University of York, the University of Sussex and most recently as Head of Internationalisation at the University of Brighton where he rapidly built up a globally distributed recruitment team that delivered exponential growth and diversification of intake for the University.  With EduCo Accelerate, he will bring this breadth and depth of UK international education experience to supporting UK and European institutions in their recruitment, conversion and retention ambitions.

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