Blog 🏛️ University 11th January 2024

In the Spotlight: How BridgeU Drive Student Engagement and University Partner Success

Profile image of Zahra Onsori
Zahra Onsori University Content Writer

In the first week of our spotlight series, we spoke to the Product team about their central role in delivering guidance to our students, counsellors, and university partners.

The week after, we spoke to Lisa Auld about the new Counsellor Community, and how this forum brings together BridgeU counsellors around the world.

In the third instalment, we spoke to BridgeU’s Customer Success team about how they’re supporting our global community of schools across the world and championing regions across the world. 

And for our final segment of the spotlight series, we draw our attention to the Student Engagement and Partner Success team (SEPS), formerly known as Enrolment Services (ES). 

Much like the name implies, the SEPS team is responsible for driving not only the student’s journey, but also working closely with our university partners to provide our global student community with valuable and engaging content. 

We caught up with Jen Mathews, head of SEPS, to talk to us about her team’s role at BridgeU, and how they contribute to the success of our community of counsellors, students and university partners.

What’s your team responsible for at BridgeU?

Our team is responsible for the partner service delivery. We work with a set of universities across the whole world, but a pretty large concentration in the UK, in the US, and some institutions in Canada and the EU. 

Our team will work with all of our university partners to create marketing campaigns on their behalf in our student facing platform.

We also work on conceptualising and creating events that give both counsellors and students opportunities to interact with our university partners, and really get in person personalised guidance on the university application and admissions process.

I myself am a former international admissions officer at a few different US universities, and have a lot of experience myself in international recruitment.

How does the creation of marketing assets and events support universities to meet their growth and diversity goals? 

One of the things that we’re working toward with all of our content is allowing our university partners to reach students that come from regions that maybe they don’t get a chance to travel to themselves in their own recruitment plans.

We also do work to help contextualise our university partner messages, because a lot of times students are coming into our platform and don’t necessarily have a strong idea or understanding about the differences between, for example, a bachelor’s degree in the United States versus the United Kingdom or Canada. 

We’re trying to provide them with a lot of valuable information that can help them make decisions, while also giving our university partners an opportunity to really be included in that conversation, to provide value to our students and guidance in helping them find institutions that are really good fit for them and their personal goals and needs. 

For our university partners, the advantage is that we get to help connect them directly into that student community, and our counsellor community has produced working with schools in over 140 countries. 

A lot of our university partners are looking to recruit more students from specific parts of the world. And so this is a great opportunity to connect those two things together.

We’ve gotten some really positive feedback, especially about the virtual events that we’ve been offering from both our partners and the students and counsellors that attend. And I think people really find the content that we’ve created through doing those sessions really valuable. 

In general, the thing that’s positive about all of this is that we really have been able to best serve our universities by best serving our students.

That’s actually why we changed our team name from Enrolment Services, to Student Engagement and Partner Success, was because we really believe that partner success is achieved through student engagement. 

And so the student engagement piece is really critical to us at BridgeU. Because we know that their experience and the information and guidance that they’re seeking about this process can be quite complicated, especially when you’re trying to manage application processes in different destinations. 

So for example, a student who is applying from an IB school in Uganda might have very different questions and different needs than a student, maybe in India doing the IFC curriculum. 

So we really are able to help make those very intentional connections between the student community that we work with, the counsellor community we work with, and our universities, as well to really help facilitate and grow that entire community together.”

What are some characteristics of the universities that have been the most successful in growing and diversifying their international student cohort?

“We’ve seen some really interesting trends. We find that universities that are engaged with our event strategy, especially our virtual event strategy, tend to have good visibility with our students, because a lot of our students actually will take advantage of async content that we create from virtual events. 

What I mean by that is that if we do a webinar on applying to business schools, for example, then students who are then in the platform exploring different courses of study and exploring different pathways will often consult with that content and get a lot out of it from that perspective. 

Partners that engage with us proactively when we do have opportunities for them to get involved tend to see spikes in student interest and engagement. 

There’s a really interesting diversity in the BridgeU student community in terms of their interests in studying abroad.

And a lot of times a university is used to things like their computer science course, or their business course being their number one most popular programme. 

But a lot of times we find with the BridgeU student community that the range of academic interests is quite varied.

So a lot of times, we have success with our partners who are really keen to maybe boost applications from other different areas; things like international relations, or psychology or the arts.

We see that universities with those programmes who are working to promote those specifically within our platform and with our student community actually tend to see good results from that. 

We find that the diversity of the student interest in the BridgeU community is a huge asset for university partners that take advantage of that. 

Jen Mathews, head of SEPS

So I think those are two things; the proactive engagement with us in our team when we’re putting together campaigns when we’re putting together our virtual events plan, and, plugging our partners into speaking opportunities.

The universities that take advantage of those things proactively are the ones that tend to have the best outcomes, because they’re really engaging and working the partnership to its fullest potential.

What are some of your team achievements you had in 2023?

“We’ve grown, which I think is exciting. We went from a team of four to a team of eight over the past year. I think that in itself shows how much progress and value that BridgeU has in relation to our university partnerships.

The team that we have put in place is very creative. We really enjoy coming up with new types of ideas to feature our university partners.

It’s been fun for us to get a chance to really conceptualise unique ways to tell the stories of our partners to our students and, and that has been a real joy to be able to be creative and come up with new ideas. 

One of the things that’s upcoming over the next year is we’re going to be doing a lot more of what we’re calling ‘voice of the student’ content.

We’ve been going out to our university partners to get more direct student ambassador testimonials and stories that can really help tell the story from the student perspective.

I think we all have found that peer-to-peer communications really puts a lot of credibility on the student experience that we provide to students. 

It helps the student make an authentic connection to the university when they hear a student that is coming from a background similar to theirs, to talk about their own experiences at a place. I think that’s something that we’re really excited to explore more next year.

*Interview has been edited for clarity.

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