How to Best Use Skype for International Student Recruitment

Skype is becoming more and more integrated into the world of professional recruitment; it makes sense for higher education institutions to follow suit when it comes to international student recruitment.

Commonly-used, free technologies like Skype can help reduce international student recruitment costs, keeping the ROI nice and high. It’s also a lot cheaper for prospective students, removing a potential barrier to application, making it a win-win option.

The University of Birmingham is one such university that uses Skype as an important part of their student recruitment. James Minhas, the International Officer at the University of Birmingham for Sub-Saharan Africa told QS Digital,

We find Skype to be a highly beneficial and cost-effective means to communicate with applicants and offer holders. It greatly aids conversion by enabling us to be constantly contactable by students. We also find it an efficient platform to run country tailored conversion campaigns.

Reducing ‘online friction’ in international student recruitment

The term ‘online friction’ is used by online retailers as a way to refer to the number of steps that stand between the consumer and the moment they commit to buying. These can be anything from switching devices, navigating to another website or entering details multiple times before users can make a purchase.

While there are plenty of differences between shopping on Amazon and shopping for higher education, this ‘online friction’ can also create barriers to international student recruitment. Once a prospective student has done enough online research they will come to a point where they will want to speak to someone, and the traditional ‘contact us’ page will usually only provide an email and/or a phone number to call.

This introduces two possible barriers to international students: the cost of an international phone call and a break in their ‘buying journey’. While an international student isn’t likely to be deterred simply by the cost of a £5 phone call, it might be enough for them shelve the idea of getting the information they want until a later time.

How to improve the recruitment experience for a student using Skype?

To make the buying journey as seamless as possible, including a Skype Call button on your contact us page could be a quick fix. This would help to break down both the aforementioned barriers by making the call free to make, without the prospective student needing to move from their computer.

A Skype Call button on your university website is just a few lines of code – so not a major issue to implement – but represents a massive gain for creating a frictionless experience for student communications. Taking this a step further, you might choose to add a Skype Chat button to your contact us page, allowing students to send instant messages and begin a conversation even when they are unable or unwilling to talk out loud. Minhas states that this has been incorporated in the University of Birmingham’s international student recruitment strategy:

We have had great success in matching up current students with future offer holders, through Skype, at little or no cost. Similarly, many of us have found the Skype instant message facility an effective and efficient means to respond to student enquiries, particularly in time-sensitive markets, such as Nigeria.

This allows for even more opportunities to connect personally with prospective students and allows representatives to deal with more than one incoming chat at a time. If the student would then like to convert the rest of their conversation into a call, it can be done so with just a click of the cursor. Incorporating Skype as an option for an initial point of contact also shows that your university is progressive in its use of technology, allowing students to use their own methods of communication rather than having to learn new ones.

Lower costs and a greater reach

Face-to-face interviews will always be a valuable part of any student recruitment process, but when it comes to recruiting students from overseas – especially those in regions not commonly targeted by your university for recruitment – Skype offers an affordable way to expand your university’s reach. Using technology such as Skype to interview – at least initially – to recruit international students will help not only reduce cost but recruitment time as well.

To learn more about how new technology can help with international student recruitment, follow us on Twitter.

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