The Covid-19 pandemic has forced higher education institutions to adapt to changes over the past few years. To remain relevant in an ever-evolving industry and to attract the right students to your college, it’s important to stay relevant and ahead of technological trends to attract interest.
Post Pandemic enrolment statistics show that college enrolments in some parts of the world continue to decline, even after the availability of vaccinations. According to National Student Clearing House Centre, 2022 statistics demonstrate that postsecondary institutions have lost nearly 1.3 million students since spring 2020.
Moreover, undergraduate enrolment accounted for most of the decline, dropping 4.7% in spring or over 662,000 students from spring 2021. As a result, the undergraduate student body is now 9.4% or nearly 1.4 million students smaller than before the pandemic.
According to a University World News article, regions, where enrolment declines are truly dramatic, are Eastern Europe and Central Asia with declines up to 30% across a host of jurisdictions. While some countries such as Switzerland and Germany, to mention a few, are an exception to this, a vast number of colleges across the globe have seen a dramatic decline in enrolments which has become a major trend in higher education.
While statistics vary, it is important for all colleges to be aware of trends and understand the changing demographics which is needed to guide personalised marketing activities with the aim of attaining outstanding recruitment results and matching student expectations with vast technological trends.
Pandemic disruption and a move to digital
The Covid-19 pandemic has paved the way for digital transformation in higher education. While digital technologies were used by many higher education institutions pre-pandemic, the use of EdTech has become much more prominent and a lifeline for institutions during and post-pandemic to acquire and retain students.
This goes hand-in-hand with the disruption of the student experience. Colleges were forced to accommodate the accelerated changes that rattled recruitment, admissions and daily activities in not only higher education institutions but the world at large.
Face-to-face interactions came to a sudden halt as social distancing became the norm resulting in an increase in digital delivery and recruitment. Open days, classroom-based learning, onsite enrolments and graduation ceremonies were all moved online to comply with worldwide restrictions. This led to a global effect that will continue to transpire into the future. But, fortunately for higher education institutions, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
EdTech has advanced so rapidly during this time to accommodate education institutions. So, while face-to-face interactions came to a sudden stop, other, somewhat more effective means to continue education put an end to the disruption. Higher education institutions were forced to adapt and have learned so much during the process, resulting in many colleges exceeding expectations.
While EdTech has paved a new way of working for colleges globally, it has also opened doors for them. Education technology has allowed institutions to recruit and engage with students who weren’t as easy to reach through traditional face-to-face methods. Imagine a world where every single student is a potential candidate for your institution.
As much as the pandemic has resulted in a shift from traditional to online methods and caused total havoc, institutions have adapted and have more options now than ever to spike their enrolments, all thanks to EdTech.
A shift in student expectations
The shift to a digital world has had a ripple effect on student expectations. Students still expect a seamless learning and online enrolment experience with a sense of belonging to a community.
Due to a rising increase in the digital world, students have become internet experts and know their way around websites, social media and applications, increasing their expectations with every scroll.
The same standards and expectations they have when scrolling through their digital worlds should be met by education institutions that want to achieve high levels of student satisfaction and engagement.
This means providing students with seamless online enrolment processes, quick and easy payment gateways and consistent communication.
Education providers are now challenged to keep consistent across the whole student lifecycle to maintain an exceptional student experience. The enrolment process is the first step in the lifecycle and sets the tone for what’s next to come. This initial, critical step plays a major role in the success of institutions.
Engaging students during the enrolment process on both mobile and desktop platforms, ensuring integration with social media and keeping abreast of platforms and features that will enhance the student experience will increase enrolments and engagement at your institution and will undoubtedly make your college stand out from the rest.
Gain competitive advantage with an education-specific CRM
EdTech has been helping institutions for years and has advanced rapidly to accommodate industry needs and changes, not to mention the changes brought on by the pandemic. Since admissions play a critical role in the success of a college and are the first step in the student lifecycle, let’s divulge into how education CRMs can make your institution a competitive superstar.
Boosting applications starts with generating enquiries with a CRM tailored for Education
Education CRM software is designed specifically for the education industry with marketing tools and features ready to attract and communicate with prospective students.
These solutions consist of feature-rich functionality to prospect and market. Some education CRMs can integrate with student management systems to streamline student data during the admissions process from the CRM to the student management system, removing the hassle of keeping track of admissions.
The engagement between your college and students is the heart of retaining or keeping a student interested and expectations for a quick, user-friendly platform have risen over the years.
To stay one step ahead colleges must select an education CRM that is current, drives engagement through applications, and makes student enrolment easy for the end-user. Boosting applications starts with generating enquiries. Once this simple step in the enrolment process is achieved, the word “bounce rate” will soon disappear from your vocabulary.
The very first step a student takes during the enrolment process is completing an application form on your college website. This process can make or break a deal and should not be taken lightly. It should form a central part of the education CRM that you choose for your college.
Always opt for an education CRM that offers customisable application templates that not only make the process simple for your students but also require minimal coding, making it effortless to set up. Not only will this save you time and money but investing in an education CRM that you can buy and then build, will give you the autonomy to customise your application template according to your college needs, one step at a time.
Must-have Education CRM features
- Flexible Online Application Templates that are readily available
Education CRMs that provide readily available application templates will more than likely save you time to set up. With templates, you no longer have to spend unwanted hours creating forms from step one.
Opting for an education CRM that gives you the flexibility to create custom information tabs, and design forms based on your college corporate identity can give you that competitive edge your college needs. Even more, choosing an education CRM with readily available templates or easy-to-create templates removes the hassle of relying on designers and external vendors, allowing you to save costs, but also manage your courses internally as they change.
- Liberate your students with Autofill
Have you ever started to complete a form online, only to realise halfway through that you have to complete each and every field manually? Convenience is critical for students who are always looking for simple ways of doing things on the internet, or through the use of applications. Some education CRMs understand this and incorporate autofill as a feature.
This feature fills in an entire form based on a user’s profile from previously stored information, removing the hassle of your students completing each and every item from scratch.
Since students are always looking for the quickest ways, and easiest ways to complete forms, this should be a standard feature in your education CRM. By selecting an education CRM that has an autofill feature, students are more likely to fill in their information since most of it is inputted for them. Unwanted user input errors can also be avoided since typing is error-prone.
- Give your potential students the option to Save & Continue
Completing application forms can be time-consuming, especially if they’re lengthy. For various reasons, students might get distracted along the way of completing an application. Or they might need more time to complete their application, i.e to compile documents they need to attach to their application, etc.
Education CRMs that allow students to save and continue with an application later give them the luxury to save a semi-completed form. This is known to increase the chances of users completing a form and can have positive results on conversions.
- Use digital signatures to bind agreements from the onset
Introducing digital signatures to the college application process can be another step to accelerating enrolments at your college. There are so many advantages of digital signatures such as substantial cost savings, an increase in operational efficiency and an overall positive impact on the retention of students.
Electronic signatures enable all required parties to sign anytime and from any device, removing the inconvenience and admin associated with physical signatures. Enabling security and trust, while streamlining the acceptance process also helps close deals quicker allowing you to bag students faster. Students too will appreciate the convenience that comes with this technology that yields instant results with a click of a button.
- Mobile first! Use online tools that are versatile on any device
Students are becoming more and more accustomed to using mobile devices, which alone shows how critical it is for your education CRM to be mobile-friendly. To give students the ultimate enrolment experience, your mobile-friendly education CRM should be as easy to use as your desktop version.
Students are more likely to stay on your enrolment page if it’s seamless, easy to navigate and use and has an overall mobile-friendly interface. Opting for an education CRM that is both desktop and mobile friendly is bound to reduce the dreaded bounce rate, giving you those boosted applications you’ve been waiting for.
- Bring parents and students together with online payments
Online payment methods have become the norm, and are a preferred method to make payments. Institutions are rapidly moving away from traditional payment methods, allowing them to focus on the more important things, like teaching and managing students.
More importantly, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced institutions to push boundaries and adapt to the changes it brought, through the likes of touchless payment options.
Overall, online payment methods are much preferred as they are far more convenient for you, parents and students paying fees. They allow payments to be made conveniently and from anywhere using a desktop computer or mobile device.
The automation that comes with this option makes the payment process so simple, giving students and parents the convenience they seek. Make sure to keep your potential students interested in your college by making sure your education CRM caters to this need.
- Create eCommerce solutions quickly with quantities and automatic totals
Prioritising students’ convenience might be the best thing you can do for your education institution. Giving your students the autonomy to enrol seamlessly can result in the outcome your college is looking for.
Take online shopping as an example. Before online shopping existed, we would go to the mall and walk through various shops to find what we were looking for. We’d then line up in queues to pay for items and exit the mall with our bought items. This activity could take hours.
Luckily for us, this dynamic has completely evolved with the rise of online shopping shortening the time it takes to shop. Online shopping has brought convenience to consumers, and fortunately for education providers, it doesn’t end here.
Education CRMs make provision for eCommerce pricing fields, giving students the freedom to select and pay for courses immediately simply by adding a course to their basket.
The shopping cart is an excellent way for students to purchase courses allowing them to begin their learner experience faster in a seamless fashion, pandemic or not.
Opting for an education CRM that removes tedious, manual processes may be the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.
- Build trust with email autoresponders and notifications
It is so important to maintain a relationship and build trust with your students during the enrolment process. Nobody likes spam, so being mindful and systematic about sending emails is key to keeping students interested and converting leads.
An education CRM that has email logic as a feature allows you to send automated customised emails and personal responses to students during their enrolment journey. This goes hand in hand with speeding up your workflow with conditional logic based on a student’s response or action on your website.
Whether you’re opting for a student management system, education CRM or both, it is essential to stay ahead of EdTech trends. Since the results your college yields are a reflection of the standards you set, setting high standards and expectations when shopping for your education CRM is critical to your buying journey.