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Meet and Engage: Engaging with prospective postgrads

OpinionHigher Education
By Heather McLean | 6 July 2017
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Create DateJuly 6, 2017
Last UpdatedJuly 5, 2017

By Sarah Brown, relationship manager at Meet and Engage.

Research-led education is central to most universities’ strategies and, therefore, maintaining a thriving and vibrant research culture for those undertaking postgraduate and postdoctoral study is vital. But engaging with potential postgraduate students to sell them on the benefits of your university can often feel like a thankless task.

We know that open days are expensive and time consuming to host and are frequently ill-attended. We also know that connecting with your international pool of potential applicants has never been more important; research shows that between now and 2024, 44% of the UK’s inbound postgraduate growth will come from China. So how can universities adapt to using alternative techniques to engage with this essential group of would-be students?

Live chatting

One solution could be the introduction of live chat as part of the recruitment mix. There are platforms on the market which allow universities to invite would-be students to a scheduled online group or 121 chats. Participants can register in advance allowing the recruiting teams to capture relevant data and added features such as full moderation means that only when you answer a question in the chat will it go live to the rest of the group, providing reassurance that you have full control of the published content.

The themes of the chats can cover a multitude of topics and might include virtual open days where you essentially hold your traditional open day but online. The platform allows you to share content such as videos in order to bring the university to life. Other topics could be more specific and involve key faculty members. In fact, being able to chat to a specific professor or academic might be a real selling point.

Language barriers

Live chat can also be a great way of engaging with your international audience as you can schedule the chats at a time that suits them. We also know that many international students feel self-conscious talking over the phone so live chat can be a great way for them to communicate with you in a way they feel comfortable. It breaks down some of the initial language barriers that might exist and helps to foster a better level of engagement.

The benefits of live chat are plentiful. Firstly, there’s the monetary cost saving; an annual licence for most platforms allows you to hold as many online live chats as you like throughout the year and doesn’t involve the traditionally costly expense of open day collateral and material.

But there’s a resource cost saving too; sparing an hour or two over the course of a week instead of a whole day for an open event is hugely beneficial to your already overstretched teams. And, of course, the benefits to your would-be postgraduate students are plentiful too. They can access the chats from the comfort of their home or office, avoiding the need to take time out to travel to events. It also allows them to find out more about universities they might not have otherwise considered. Plus, if you can provide them access to an eminent academic figure, then it makes their engagement with you all the more appealing.

To conclude, live chat could be a useful, if not vital, part of your future recruitment strategy, allowing you to enhance the way you engage with your future postgraduate talent.

The Meet and Engage live chat platform gives you a way to engage with candidates, students or consumers within a branded, moderated environment.


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