In a post-pandemic world, student expectations for the higher education experience have changed. Some students may prefer online learning, while others may seek increased mental health support. Therefore, institutions must adjust their student recruitment strategies to remain relevant and effective.
The most successful recruitment strategies will engage prospective students with the right message at the right time. This requires a combination of identifying and adapting to changing trends and having strong internal processes and administrative systems. Inefficient processes can hinder recruitment efforts, so institutions must refine their background systems before turning their attention to campaigns and messaging.
When it comes to university student recruitment, the pandemic has had a significant impact, leading to an increase in remote learning and a decrease in campus-based experiences. This, combined with concerns around university fees and the cost of living, has made prospective students consider the return on investment in their education more closely.
Universities have five key elements to include in their university student recruitment strategies:
- Focusing on employability and the value of the degree: Prospective students are more aware of fees and want to know the outcomes of their education journey, so university recruitment strategies must highlight the added value of their education, including employability, real-world skills, and connections.
- Utilising alumni case studies and student ambassadors: Utilising alumni case studies and student ambassadors can be an effective way to showcase the value of a university degree. Alumni ambassadors can speak at events and school visits, while student ambassadors can provide peer-to-peer information and guidance.
- Championing the university brand: In university student recruitment, it is crucial to have a clear brand and presence, as this is a highly competitive area. Institutions should analyse enrolment data and student experience surveys to understand the type of student attracted to their organization and what they value. This information can then be used to refine the university's core values and brand messages.
- Providing student mental health support: Mental health is a growing concern in higher education, and universities must improve their support and services to address this issue. Over 80% of university leaders have identified mental health and well-being as a strategic focus for 2022, and research indicates that one in five students research mental health support before applying to a university. Providing easy access to support and services should be a key part of any university recruitment strategy.
- Clear and compliant communication: Clear-cut communication is crucial throughout the university recruitment process. Slow responses can hinder prospective student interest, so a student recruitment CRM can be a useful tool to streamline communications and track recruitment efforts.
The pandemic has had a profound impact on the higher education landscape, and university recruitment strategies must evolve to stay relevant and effective. Focusing on mental health support, employability, and clear communication will help institutions attract and retain top talent.