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Part 2 - The two key questions to grow your student recruitment in 2020

Last week I wrote about the challenge of defining "where to play" by prioritising the few country / course combinations that offer your institution the maximum growth potential for 2020. (Click here for last weeks blog).

This week I wanted to share more about how to answer the second key question that can drive your student recruitment growth in 2020, "how to win?".

This week we will assume that you are clear on which are the top 10, country / course combinations that offer you the greatest growth potential and are ready to focus on working out "how to win?".

The first step to working out "how to win", is identifying who do you need to win with?

Given that ~80% of international students apply via agents, agent counsellors are a critical gatekeeper you need to engage, (not just the agent head office staff).

For both domestic and international recruitment we need a clear articulation of why should a prospective student prefer to study at your institution ahead of your competitors?

So there are two key audiences we need to engage, agents and students;

At this point I'm often told that the institution has 100-200 agents under contract and so engaging agents is taken care of by the contracts, training, familiarisation tours and in-country agent event sponsorship and visits.

But does that lead to engaged agents?

Our own agent mystery shopping research has shown that all too often it doesn't, with only 30% of agents recommending an institution ahead of its competitors.

So that's 70% of your agents under contract who aren't recommending your institution!

Given agents each represent 30-900 institutions, they simply can't recommend each institution they represent to every prospective student they see.

Added to this our research showed that most agents seem unable to articulate (in a relevant and compelling way), why a prospective student should prefer to study at your institution ahead of your competitors.

Now before we blame the agents for not meeting their contractual commitments to represent your institution positively and honestly, where has your institution articulated to it's agents why prospective students should prefer to study at your institution ahead of your competitors? Is it on your website and collateral?

Have you communicated the different needs prospective students from different countries and different courses care about?

Contrary to what most institutions publish on their website, global rankings, enriching learning experiences and scholarships are not what's going to set you apart from your competitors.

Primarily, because most institutions say the same things on their websites as their competitors and the messages are too generic to be relevant and meaningful to any one individual from one country considering studying one course at your institution.

We need a proposition for students that clearly articulates how you are going to improve the prospective students life, with proof points that are relevant to the prospective student and the course they want to study.

The reasons a Chinese business student would prefer to study at your institution (ahead of your competitors) are different from a Philippines nursing student. So we need to develop propositions that are tailored for each of our priority country / course combinations, if we truly want to engage prospective students to prefer to study at your institution.

Once we have developed a compelling proposition, we need to make our institutions easy for agents to "sell" to prospective students, equipping them with content that is relevant and inclusive for students from their country.

There's a lot more to getting the best out of your agent network, but with a range of propositions tailored to the country and course, you should now be able to engage your agents to influence prospective students to apply to you ahead of your competitors.

If you would like a bit of help developing compelling propositions for your institution, let me know we are here to help.

At MacMorgan we help institutions take a student centred approach to growth, if you'd like to find out more about our unique approach, please contact me.

Click here for previous weeks blogs.

John Chatterton

+61432 906 790


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