By Laura Evans
Suffice to say, students and educators have experienced serious disruption as a result of the repercussions of COVID-19. Nowhere is this more evident that for international recruitment. With the outbreak limiting international travel and delaying commencements at universities around the world, international students have struggled to connect with institutions and secure a place on their programme of choice.
But as programmes moved online, the landscape became a little clearer and options began to open up. With students still eager to sign up, it was important to innovate and find new recruiting practices to reach the international audience effectively and efficiently.
“It is a difficult time for students abroad looking to study with us”, International Marketing Manager at the International University of Malaya-Wales (IUMW) Wee Ma Ling explained.
“Thankfully, the pandemic hasn’t halted their study journey now we’re able to reach out to students and parents and offer them the right support and guidance. Our friendly team of course consultants and university support services are on hand to give students the advice they need so they don’t have to halt their study plans”.
Virtual fairs have given IUMW’s course consultants the chance to speak directly to prospective students via chat tools, so they can receive answers to queries in real-time, and save waiting in queues or on the phone. Students also have quick and easy access to all university brochures, readily available to download from the virtual booth. While not without its drawbacks, Ma Ling tells us the important thing is that the team get to engage with students and parents, introduce them to lecturers, and gather all of the information they need for admissions.
Round the clock recruiting
It would be a safe assumption that the IUMW recruitment team work usual office hours, but this couldn’t be further from the truth for the international recruitment team. As educators with international reach, they have to work harder than ever before to reach students. This can mean staying up late to match time zones in other countries, offering webinars and previews until late in the evening, and late-night/ early morning one-on-one Zoom calls.
It isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it. Students and parents alike are worried, having found themselves in a situation no one could have predicted, so to be able to foster those connections and put their minds at ease is worth the odd late night. IUMW also have representative agents in many countries across the world, so there are options for face-to-face support when needed.
“Digital platforms like this mean we can be responsive and reach people efficiently, at a time they need it most. We have new students who have successfully joined during the pandemic and are now enjoying studying online, along with our local students”, Ma Ling explained. “Of course – they’re also looking forward to being able to come to Malaysia and enjoy the experience here, but for now, at least, they have begun their university journey and are on track to achieving their goals”.
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