Coronavirus is changing how HE student recruitment works
– Diego Fanara is the CEO of Unibuddy, a peer-to-peer chat platform that connects students with universities.
The Coronavirus outbreak has forced us indoors – working, studying and socialising remotely.
Thankfully, society has never been better equipped for such a significant change to our daily lives. Technology is keeping people connected when they are physically forced apart.
The education sector has been slowly digitising for years, and now it is under pressure to innovate fast – delivering classes online, staying connected with students and ensuring that young people are still getting a quality education even from afar.
Transformation of HE services will ‘make education more accessible’
Higher Education, particularly, is learning how to adapt. Some institutions are hundreds of years old, steeped in tradition – and suddenly forced to innovate the way they deliver everything from teaching, to student services, to Open Days.
But harnessing that digital technology is important, and the innovations that come from this period will benefit students for years to come.
It’ll make education more accessible, flexible and personalised.
Some of the amazing innovations we’ve already seen include teaching staff making the significant adjustment to online teaching.
Putting together a digital curriculum in such a short space of time is not easy – but it will pay dividends the next time there is learning disruption and to improve student accessibility in the long-run.
Coronavirus forcing HE student recruitment to rapidly adapt to changes
The same innovations driven by the Coronavirus pandemic are happening in admissions and student recruitment.
For thousands of students around the world, it’s that crucial visit to campus that helps them find the place where they want to spend the next few years of their lives studying.
It’s casual conversations with current students and academics that help them decide if they will thrive at the institution. Taking that experience online is no easy task.
For many universities, virtual events are providing one solution.
In March, we saw a 900% increase in the number of virtual events hosted on Unibuddy compared to the previous month.
Virtual reality and video campus tours are also seeing an increase in demand.
Top universities are using these events to attract, retain and – crucially – reassure students who are considering studying at their institution.
And there’s a lot that a digital event can offer that a real visit day can’t: a totally personalised experience, for example.
At a digital open day, students can connect with exactly who they want to speak to – an academic from their department to ask about the structure of the course, the international team to ask about visa requirements, a current student to find out about the nightlife.
Facilitating those connections in person is a huge logistical difficulty, and the ability of virtual events to make it accessible could be a legacy that lives beyond this crisis.
What’s clear from this is that universities want to help students blossom. While things are difficult and scary now, these digital innovations are paving the way for a more connected future.
Higher Education has a crucial role to play during the coronavirus outbreak. So let’s keep supporting and reassuring each other.
We all gain strength from our shared experiences.
Pic: Leon Seibert