Student ambassadors and peer to peer student conversations play an active role in the decision making of prospective foreign students to study abroad, a recent study has found.
Recently, Intead and Unibuddy joined hands to gauge to what extent peer to peer interactions influence prospective students’ recruitment strategy.
Intead and Unibuddy are two platforms that over 200 universities worldwide use to encourage peer to peer interactions amongst their student ambassadors and prospective students.
In the Spring of 2019, Intead and Unibuddy collaborated and analysed 370,000+ peer-to-peer conversations (through the Unibuddy system) amongst 26,000+ prospective students from 57 countries.
The aim of this research was to understand the influence of peer to peer conversations in student recruitment and to see what other factors played a part in the decision making of the prospective student.
Results show value of peer to peer conversations for foreign students
Out of all the foreign students surveyed, 57% stated that peer to peer conversations heavily influenced their decision as to which institution to choose.
They remarked that student ambassadors (as compared to the institution itself) gave a more honest picture of the ins and outs of the institution’s academics, local culture, and student life.
In comparison, only 47% of the students said that their friends and family helped them decide which institution to choose. This means that peer-to-peer conversations with current students were valued as a far better resource than the opinion of family and friends.
The student ambassadors not only give the inside picture to potential foreign students but also provided guidelines and encouragement along the way.
But it is important to note that student ambassadors come in handy when a student has already shown some interest in the institution. They should not be looked as an attraction tool, rather they serve another purpose.
After the initial interest of a student towards an institution, these student ambassadors are a resource that helps prospective students deepen their knowledge about the academics and day to day matters of that institution.
This means that the institution should still work on its brand awareness and not solely rely on peer-to-peer interactions.
Undergraduates more reliant on peers than postgraduates
The research further stated that undergraduate students relied more on peer-to-peer conversations as compared to postgraduate students, 55% and 47% respectively.
This result shows that the younger crowd was more comfortable using the Unibuddy online chat system as a resource as compared to the graduate students.
The report states that 67% of the students used the Unibuddy system before submitting their application, 10% used it post application but before the offer and 16% used it post offer.
This consolidated the fact that peer-to-peer conversations should be seen as a great tool for student recruitment and steps should be taken to make sure student ambassadors give a compelling picture of the institution.
Pic: Ba Phi
Zahra Hamdani is an Ireland-based reporter for Global Education Times who focuses on European and South Asian education news. When she is not writing for GET News, Zahra is a school-teacher and educationist with experience in both Primary and Secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland as well as in Pakistan.
You can reach Zahra at firstname.lastname@example.org