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Answering these three questions will make it easier to personalise your events to your prospective international students in 2023
Now more than ever, running a successful event for your international student applicants can be an invaluable tool in persuading them to enrol at your institution.
And of course, the adaptations necessitated by COVID-19 has meant that more international admissions and recruitment teams have had to run events remotely.
But, as we’ve discussed in previous articles, the proliferation of digital and virtual events also increases the likelihood that international students will feel burnout, or “Zoom fatigue”. As we wrote in 2020, “after a time, university fairs and webinars may begin to feel like a conveyor belt of identical events.”
In the year since we wrote those words, it’s become apparent that digital events and webinars are here to stay. We can expect that they will take their place alongside in-person events as a core component of universities’ wider recruitment and admissions activities.
On the one hand, the proliferation of virtual and online events have given higher education institutions more of a chance to innovate.
Virtual events have given higher international admissions and recruitment reps the opportunity to offer greater personalisation, and reach more prospective applicants in more localities.
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We know that personalising your events to an audience as diverse and complex as international students can be easier said than done!
After all, many admissions teams only have finite resources. There is a limit to the number of different ways that you, or your colleagues can reinvent the wheel every time you speak to a new audience of potential international undergraduates.
Our advice? Tailoring your events to different international student audiences doesn’t have to involve (for example) a drastic re-think of the webinar platform you’re using. Nor does it necessitate completely redesigning your slide deck or events content every time you give a presentation.
So while personalisation is important, it’s important not to overthink this. To help you quickly and easily adapt your events for your chosen events, we’ve identified three key questions every admissions team or recruitment rep needs to ask themselves.
Read on to find out more…
Question 1: Where are your students in their application journey?
One of the most basic mistakes some universities make in their event planning is assuming knowledge.
Some recruitment or admission professionals who run events for international students won’t take into account where specifically a student is in their overall university application journey.
The result is that they will give a presentation based on the premise that an international student may already be familiar with their brand, their campus, or the city/region they are based in.
The truth is that an international student’s knowledge of a university will vary wildly, depending on how far along they are in the research and application process.
A student might be in the early stages of researching destination countries – or they might be in the process of building a shortlist of their preferred institutions.
But the difference between these two stages – and therefore the amount of knowledge and experience a student will possess – is massive!
So as you set about planning a virtual event aimed at international school students, do some research to gauge their level of knowledge and ascertain where exactly they are on the long and winding road to university application!
Question 2: What type of international school are they studying at?
A student’s knowledge of international higher education options will, in part, be shaped by the type of international school they are studying at.
As we’ve explored in some of our other resources, the term ‘international school’ now covers a very wide range of secondary institutions across the world.
For example, a more established international school may have a tradition of sending their students to university in other countries.
Counsellors and senior leaders at this school will be able to point to the most popular countries and universities at their institution amongst their students. By the same token, it’s likely that students at these schools will be more familiar with the concept of studying abroad, potentially because they have already lived in a number of countries throughout their lives.
In contrast, a growing number of international schools may have a cohort of students who are more locally based, for whom the concept of studying abroad is more unfamiliar. They may therefore approach the task of applying internationally with a greater degree of trepidation.
Question 3: How much do they already know about your institution?
Closely linked to the first two questions is the question of how much pre-existing knowledge international students will have about your institution when they attend one of your events.
Once again, it’s important not to assume knowledge.
There are many higher education institutions around the world that may receive instant name recognition from international students (especially if you work at an institution that sits in a prestigious league table).
But if you’re reading this and you’re working at a smaller, or more specialist institution, you may find yourself hosting events for students with very little familiarity with your institution’s brand and the types of courses and programmes you offer.
How to plan the right type of event for your international student audience
If you’ve answered the questions above, then you’re in a better position to ensure you’re not planning a ‘one size fits all’ approach to your events.
What’s more, answering the questions above means that you’re in a better position to understand the right type of event for the students you’ll be talking to.
But, as we explained earlier, while there are ways to ensure that you’re not delivering identikit presentations, there are also ways to ensure that you’re not having to spend hours designing bespoke presentations for every student audience that you talk to.
To help you do this, we’ve come up with three international student event templates that you can use to adapt your event planning.
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