Studyportals Apply – your digital solution for international student recruitment
As the world of higher education moves further into the digital space, new sets of problems arise for both international students and universities. Choice fatigue and misinformation on the one side affect students’ decision regarding their study programme abroad. Also, personal doubt comes up when a student decides what educational option they will choose for their future, a fact which cannot be understated. On the other hand, higher education institutions want to have a certain degree of assuredness and quality about the student body that applies and, eventually, gets enrolled into their programmes. Given this current situation, we here at Studyportals spotted an opportunity to aid both parties’ status quo via a digital solution. That is how our team came up with Studyportals Apply.
Studyportals Apply aims to complete the student journey on our platforms, bringing it to a full circle from identifying interest to submitting an application. The technology behind Studyportals Apply and its feature development are based on the particular needs of both the student market and higher education professionals. As Jeroen Bastiaansen, our Director of Global Partnerships and Innovation, mentioned, “Studyportals Apply can be defined as an application platform that mixes an online comparison system with a personalised way of applying to university for the student. The online comparison system is based on the educational offers we have present on our portals from higher education institutions. And the personalised way that we treat the application process for the future student is a mix between digital and human input.”
Based on the market feedback towards the application process in higher education, our team of engineers decided to pursue two very specific directions of improvement: scaling up the digital potential of Studyportals Apply and adding an extra human touch to the whole process. To achieve a smoother and supportive application process for the student, both digital and human touch points needed to be considered in the development of the platform.
The newest features that our team has added to the Studyportals Apply design are:
- A programme matching and suggestion feature;
- A more human touch to the digital application process with an in-house specialised education counsellor.
1. Our matching and suggestion feature
One of the most pressing concerns that universities share about international enrolments is their quality. Because the investment on their side in international recruitment efforts can be substantial, the quality of the ROI becomes a sensitive topic. Higher education professionals want to have a student body that enriches campus life and academic achievements. That is why we want to make sure that the enrolments that come via Studyportals bring that certainty to the table.
With the help of the matching and suggestion feature, we have the ability to offer a few other related study options for the student during the application process, in case they need more information. Based on their provided details on our portals, our system can generate different matching international study options. During the application process via Studyportals, students can ask our in-house counsellor for other study options that they should consider.
From the student’s perspective, this step is essential, helping them reach a certain level of confidence about their final study choice. Having a compare-and-confirm moment in their application process adds more weight to the certainty about their study choice. In terms of results for the university, a student who is 100% sure about his choice is more motivated to take an active role in the curricula, is less likely to drop out of the programme and has a higher chance of leaving a positive review at the end of his or her experience. At the same time, the level of satisfaction of the student with their choice will be far higher than that of a student who was not fully convinced of their choice.
For the universities, this feature also opens up the opportunity to spot missing or incomplete information that might be crucial for the decision-making process of the student in favour of their institution and programme. During the discussion with our in-house counsellor, we can receive direct feedback from students especially regarding information that would have helped them in the application process. This type of input coming directly from the student market is a unique opportunity that admission teams don’t normally get the chance to apply. Through Studyportals Apply, we will be able to offer monitoring and in-depth feedback on the admission information provided by higher education institutions. For example, we already could assist partnering universities with their content optimisation of admission steps based on the feedback we have received from the student market.
The matching and suggestion feature opens up different opportunities for universities to come closer to their international student body and provide compelling and clear information that makes people confidently apply.
2. A more human touch to the digital application process
Our second addition for Studyportals Apply process goes into a more human way. We’re very happy to welcome our first in-house student counsellor. Specialised in the international student market and student psychology, our counsellor adds the missing human touch to the application process. Aside from entering the necessary admission requirements, which mostly happens digitally, students need another person’s advice and support during their application process. Usually, this role is filled by family, friends and mentors. But education counsellors can also play an important role.
By offering this service to students using Studyportals Apply, we are assisting them throughout this phase of the application process in a complete manner.
Aside from assisting students in their final student journey phase, Studyportals Apply helps us get a deeper understanding of the application process itself. Students need to synthesise a high volume of contextual information to achieve a final decision on their international study direction. With the help of Studyportals Apply, we can tune into their behaviour patterns and learn more about the factors that have an impact on a student’s decision-making process.
The most important insights that Studyportals Apply can already tell us about the student’s application process are:
- The biggest obstacle for a student in their international academic pursuit is financial, and not academic. More students end up not applying for their studies of choice because of tuition fees that are above their personal budget, living costs that exceed their financial capabilities or personal financial issues. For example, for universities in the United States, new discussions around financial models and scholarship investments are becoming more frequent.
- Visa requirements and the cultural openness of the campus are also valuable elements that play into a student’s opinion on whether or not to apply to a specific programme
- Market adoption of this feature highly depends on how accustomed students are to online application services. While students from some countries are having a slower start, others are happily embracing the opportunity to have all their study abroad information, including their application process, in one place. The trend that we are seeing with Studyportals Apply is heading towards the simplification of the application process.
Jeroen Bastiaansen is convinced that the future of online applications processes is being set by digital solutions such as Studyportals Apply. “It’s the complete package,” said Bastiaansen. “We don’t take the student choice for granted. Instead, we choose to challenge the student a little bit and support them, to make sure that their choice is the right one. Because if they take the right choice and feel ownership towards it, the quality of the application, and in the end, of their time spent in academia will be especially beneficial for the university.”