Lessons learnt while building "Study in India"
It has been a tremendous experience trying to enable Higher Education institutions to gather mind share of international students. World is going through a lot of changes from violence on campuses to attacks around the western world. It just seems India with its rich culture and strong hold of STEM education could be beneficiary and a hit for international students.
We went on the road not travelled much and build a platform www.admissiondesk.org (AdmissionDesk) where institutions can talk directly to students and enable transparency. It’s been quite a satisfying experience till date and here are few of the lessons we learned in the process about the Industry and specially about the Indian higher ed .
1) There is a huge potential for Indian higher ed to be center of the new global development. In a month we are on average getting traffic of 40,000 prospective students to come and learn about Indian institutions.
2) The interest to study in India is very wide spread and students from close to 118 countries came and filled the basic information form to understand further about Indian higher ed.
3) Students today are more mobile and want to learn more from their handhelds. They also wish to apply to these universities from their handheld. Thus each institutions building their mobile app will not make sense but institutions should more and more focus on their mobile websites.
4) We learnt that Indian Higher Ed has great demand in African, Middle East & SAARC market and can be a great pathway provider. The positioning of Indian higher ed has to be done right. We need to understand our strengths and weakness. We may not have any World Class higher ed names but have the highest growth rates in the world and that truly is a huge factor to attract students. Also there are numerous countries which have Higher Ed systems which are truly below par than us and we can ensure good prospects and global outlook to them on our campuses.
5) Being an English speaking nation is another feather in our cap. For countries in SAARC and ASIA, we found out that learning English while getting a globally recognized degree is a better position that "Brand India".
6) Facebook and Online Social media is the future of International Student recruitment. The only way to reach them at depths and breadth of various countries is through Social Media. There are close to 1200 Conversation that happen every month on Facebook Messenger and Close to 400,000 people are reached through Facebook. It is by far the single most effective way to get your institution to the prospective students.
7) Look at students as allays and not as a customer. Build communication and engagement to win their trust. Walk with them and help them understand the unique attributes of the programs and the country. Don’t sell but engage.
8) One of the biggest issues with universities is they try to force their courses on students without hearing out their needs and wants. We learnt that an average student who is 15-17 Years old needs a ear and right guidance. If you hear them out and guide them, they truly become your advocates and ambassadors. Even if they don't buy your product they appreciate your effort and share the experience with their friends.
9) Indian Higher ed needs to work on new platform and in tandem. Our institutions still follow the process of submitting documents individually to them. When world has moved to building easier platform for students to communicate and Apply why are we stuck with old system. Each institution has its one application system and thus if a student wishes to apply to 4-5 institutions it requires them to apply and submit one at a time. We need to learn from Western counterparts and apply those in India. At Admission Desk we tried to ensure that a student can apply to multiple institutions with a simple click. Today a student applied to an average of 3-4 institutes in 2-3 different courses.
We truly hope that Indian Higher Education along with Ministry of HRD truly raise to the occasion of making " Study in India" a reality with 100,000 students on its campus by 2020.