As the international education industry matures and technology continues to develop at an ever faster pace, we begin to see signs of new efficiencies in our business practices and work flows.
Today, we explore the future of the student admissions process, which is – thanks to technology – becoming increasingly streamlined and efficient. The rise of electronic applications has produced benefits such as faster turnaround times, more accurate tracking capabilities, better conversion rates, and reduced costs.
This ongoing embrace of technology can also be seen in the increased use of online relationship management tools to improve business processes. For example, we came across an article entitled “CRM grows up” in the October 2012 issue of University Business magazine, which reviews how universities in the US are using technology throughout the student lifecycle, from admissions through till graduation and alumni status.
Through various examples of the CRM systems universities are using now, such as Hobsons or Enrollment Rx, we see how technology is facilitating communication and thereby helping to increase conversion and retention. When you can track a student from initial enquiry through to enrolment, you can clearly see where your recruitment strategies or communication need improvement.
As one of the schools interviewed for the article explains, “The ability to segment prospective students based on interests or location is another benefit of the new [CRM] system.”
But technology is not only helping us to streamline processes in student recruitment and admissions, it is also facilitating the educator/agent relationship as it develops in the connected world of Generation Y applicants.
ICEF Monitor recently sat down with Mr Jason Howard, Director of StudyLink, a publisher and technology provider specialising in study guides and related information resources. StudyLink also produces StudyLink Connect, an online portal that is designed to smooth admissions work flows and communications between educators and authorised agents.
As our two-part video interview below will illustrate, Mr Howard reviews how technology is enhancing the ways in which agents, universities and other educational providers operate, and how the role of agents is developing as more of them expand beyond recruitment into other specialties such as visa processing.
Video interview, part 1
The first part of our interview with Mr Howard discuses how technology is affecting the relationship between educators and agents. He explains that today’s technology provides both threats and opportunities. In a positive light, for example, agents can use the Internet and social media to differentiate themselves and build their brand, and also use technology to improve business processes.
For instance, the online portal StudyLink Connect enables recruitment agents to manage the student application process more efficiently. Because agents represent many schools – and often, each have their own online application systems – agents have to work with many different systems. In order to streamline this process, StudyLink Connect offers a single portal to manage multiple applications to multiple providers.
In looking at how technology is driving change in our industry, Mr Howard also shares his views on Skype, video conferencing, and distance education.
Video interview, part 2
Picking up on how technology is affecting agent operations and current trends in the marketplace, we discuss technology’s impact on streamlined visa processing in Australia, with “many universities sending applications to third parties through the process.”
Mr Howard also explains how the roles of student recruitment agents are changing, with “some agents being tasked to do specific things, for example, specialising in visa processing.”