Innovative approaches to student recruitment
Our Regional Manager for South Asia, Harish Lokhun, ran an online session for prospective students with an interesting twist and some very positive outcomes. Harish tells us his tips for running a session like his, and why it’s so successful.
Running information sessions is a crucial part of higher education recruitment, with students eager to find out more about their potential life in a new place.
They are even more imperative when a student may be making the life changing decision to move half way around the world.
Harish Lokhun, Regional Manager for South Asia, decided to change the way information sessions were normally run, in an effort to give prospective applicants a more useful introduction to studying at the University of Edinburgh.
Instead, he ran a session that was chaired by current students from across the South Asia region.
How to run a virtual information session – 5 top tips from Harish
1. Make sure the students you select to participate in the information sessions come from a range of study levels, and if possible, from across the region you are representing
I was pleasantly surprised at how many students came forward to help, and it was great that they were from such a range of study levels and subjects. We actually managed to have a student from each country in the region, too, which was brilliant. It’s so that the session is as valuable for potential applicants as possible, and as relatable.
2. Time is very important in a number of ways
Timing it right is very important. The time of day has got to be appropriate for the timezone your region is in, as well as any cultural differences there may be. There might also be term dates you should avoid from a point of view of student participation – big essay hand ins or exams, for example. You should factor in enough time ahead of the session to let prospective applicants know which students will be participating, so they can determine whether it will be helpful for them to attend.
3. Try to have the session in a visually appealing room
Using somewhere like the backdrop of the McEwan Hall is a great selling point of the University and a good opportunity to show off the campus.
4. Hold a short briefing session with the students participating to set up boundaries
I briefed students a few days ahead of the event to give them an overview of what they could talk about, for example, encouraging them to stay away from talking about visas. The boundaries weren’t strict other than that. It was important to give them guidance, but ensure their voice was heard and not script the potential interactions they would be having with prospective applicants.
5. Make sure you have the technological capabilities to make it a seamless experience for all involved, and that you have tested it on the day
Giving everyone a good experience includes making sure the technology is spot on, so you can get on with giving the prospective applicants all the info they’re interested in.
Why is this approach so effective?
I think it works for a number of reasons. It helps prospective students get the personal touch. Our students passed the laptop round to speak with prospective applicants, who could use their microphone and video to chat if they wished to.
There was really organic, authentic, genuine conversation. It keeps a natural flow going without it feeling too scripted. Each student told their Edinburgh story first, being really frank and realistic, then went on to answer a huge range of questions on topics like accommodation options, the Law School, part-time work opportunities and student societies.
To have potential applicants feel a personal connection to a potential University is a great thing, and I think it was effective for that reason.
Feedback from students who participated has been very positive.
- “It felt really nice connecting to the students not only in the region but also the ones on campus.”
- “I also support coming up with creative ways to connect prospective students to the ones in Edinburgh, through video interviews, campus reps, information sessions, blogs etc.”
- “Thank you so much for hosting the panel! It was a great opportunity and I really enjoyed being a part of it.”
- “It was an amazing experience to help the students and answer their queries.”
- “I would love to participate in similar events and panels in the future."