Changes in tuition fees a few years ago saw a power-shift in the recruitment of students to universities. Prospective students gained more control. Applicants and parents alike became more savvy. As a result, institutions and their offerings have come under more scrutiny. Campus facilities, teaching staff, value for money and future employability to name but a few areas that have been subject to increased questioning.
As a higher education institute, the importance of making that first, and second impression is more vital than ever, which is where open days play an important role. But getting applicants to your campus seems harder than ever. Are virtual open days a suitable way of enticing applicants through the door? Can they form an additional, useful step in the application process? We detail five reasons below that may convince you.
1. Your location
Particularly relevant for universities further afield. Does your location limit those potential applicants willing to travel the distance to see you?
We all know that some students are desperate to get as far away from home as possible. But parents, fearing Empty Nest syndrome may not be so keen. And those parents, often supporting their children through both the application and visit process, and the course itself, may well require some convincing themselves.
A virtual open day is the perfect solution. A way to show off your campus to an enthusiastic applicant. And a way to settle the nerves of parents by giving an idea of the study and lifestyle to be had at your institute.
2. International students
The cost for international students to make the journey to see your campus could be huge. Furthermore, bringing parents along for the ride only adds to the cost. Imagine a solution whereby those international students could chat with staff, current students and alumni, asking all the questions they need answering in order to make an informed decision. And then to be able to quickly share this information with parents and sponsors, or even bring them in on the whole experience.
3. Low cost
Virtual open days can be very cost effective. The team needed to run one is tiny in comparison to that of a real life open day, and the logistics and planning are barely comparable. We recently helped University of Birmingham run a virtual open day for their North American markets. They operated this entire day with a core team of only 3 people. The results were fantastic. Overnight they saw a 245% increase in applications.
4. Access new and emerging markets
Virtual open days can open new doors for your university. Because of the relatively low costs of running open days, they can be operated for new and emerging markets that would otherwise remain un-covered.
The beauty of anything online is that through analytics packages, insightful user data can be fed straight back to you. You never know, you might even stumble across a new section of prospective applicants.
One of the universities using our Virtual Campus platform did exactly this. During a virtual open day, they received a large number of unexpected hits from Colombian students. As a result of this information, they pushed more resources into recruiting in this region.
5. Help convert those “maybes” into applications
Travelling around the country, visiting universities can be an expensive, and time-consuming business. And deciding which universities to devote that time and money to is a difficult decision. Are you more likely to convert applicants once they’ve seen your campus? A virtual open day is the perfect way to tempt those students who are on the fence to come and see what you’re all about, giving you the opportunity to turn them into applications.
We’re not saying that virtual open days exist to replace the traditional format. But they are there to complement it. They can run alongside your real-life open days very neatly, but they also fit nicely into a timeslot before the real life open day season begins. They help in creating great first impressions before applicants are ready to commit to a real life open day.
For more information about our Virtual Campus platform, head over to our services page. Alternatively, drop us a line on 0121 7734851, and we’ll be happy to show you how Virtual Campus could be a useful tool for your university.