Student recruitment trends to watch as you forecast your September and January intakes

Throughout this student recruitment cycle, we’ve seen strong intent from students across all international markets to study overseas. However, as we get closer to September, the realities of visa processing bottlenecks, quarantine costs and distance/blended learning are coming to the surface more often in our daily conversations with offer holders.

Like last year, there is a lot at play around the world that is out of universities control. But, understanding the global factors influencing students’ decision-making can help you better calibrate enrolment forecasts and tailor communications with students to support their needs at this point in their recruitment journeys.

In this round-up, we outline student trends that we’re keeping an eye on to better anticipate enrolment behaviours.

Student FAQ and sentiment analysis

Throughout the student recruitment cycle, we track pre-applicant and offer holder FAQs and sentiments towards the university, and study destination more broadly.

FAQs reveal the concerns and interests that are top of mind for students which informs future conversations with students individually and, where we see trends, lends direction to topics that will resonate with particular student segments in automated channels like email marketing.

As we get closer to the end of the student recruitment cycle, offer holder FAQs and sentiment analysis can be used to refine enrolment forecasts as we can unpick any lingering stumbling blocks students are encountering on their way to enrolment.

Key year-on-year trends

Coronavirus hesitation may make the January intake more desirable than usual. Reviewing our data from the last three months (May-July), we’ve seen a 68% year-on-year increase in coronavirus hesitation cited by international students as a blocker to accepting their offers. Alongside this, there’s been a 3% year-on-year increase in FAQs about deferrals.

Despite a strong desire from international students to study, a wait-and-see approach may be the path they take, especially students who are keen to study in person. What we’re hearing from students at the moment is that they’re considering delaying to January in hopes they’ll avoid having to pay to quarantine.

Keeping tabs on the global competition

This past January intake, Australia’s closed borders shifted student demand towards UK universities’ January-start programmes. In June, the Australian government approved a plan to open South Australia up again to international students and are reviewing plans to do the same in New South Wales. We’ll be monitoring how student demand for January UK intakes is impacted compared to last year by Australia’s staged re-opening.

Nurturing interest for January 2022

Despite it being another tumultuous student recruitment cycle, we’re anticipating strong international enrolment in September across our partner group as firm accepts continue to increase weekly across all international markets. But, there will inevitably be a portion of students who are finding that September is not the right time for them. Don’t ignore these students.

It’s not too early to launch longer-term nurturing campaigns for international students in your pipeline who are not likely to enrol this September but are great fits for your January intake.

Our enrolment data shows that creating dialogue with students increases offer conversion rate by 26%, so it’s key to use a communications approach that consistently and proactively engages students from enquiry to enrolment.

We deliver omni-channel engagement journeys on behalf of our partner universities via intelligent automation coupled with data-driven (and multilingual) human interventions that nurture international UG and PG student interest to enrolment.

Learn how we help universities increase international enrolment and get in touch with our team to discuss how we can help you meet your January enrolment targets.