How to win international students with a mobile-first approach

“Mobile content and understanding how international students communicate is key to attracting top applicants”

Global student mobility has never been higher: there are now almost five million international students around the world at various stages of their studies.

However, despite an increase in student numbers between 1995 and 2010, growth has slowed and there is huge competition between schools, colleges and universities. Students can now pick from an ever-expanding number of establishments around the world, as well as highly respected courses online.

As applicants use technology to do everything from researching schools right through to completing their applications, it is crucial that establishments provide a high-quality digital experience, which reflects the content and experiences that students engage with daily.

International students may well want to take a virtual 3D tour of the campus, arrange a Skype call with an admissions officer or follow students in real time to get a glimpse of their lives on Snapchat or through an Instagram story.

So, how can universities best attract and engage potential applicants? Mobile communications are the answer and the key is to provide compelling content through social platforms and facilitate students’ smartphone-enabled lives.

Universities can use a range of social platforms as a key way to reach out to students. The Pew Research Centre found that young Americans, particularly 18 to 24-year-olds, frequently use a variety of social platforms that inform their education decisions.

Searching a hashtag on Twitter, following an influencer on Instagram, or seeking out a video on YouTube are natural ways for students to get their information, and so it is important for educational establishments to have a presence on those platforms, ensuring they are easily discoverable.

Accessing all this digital content relies on either 3G or 4G availability, or the university having a powerful, secure and reliable Wi-Fi network, that enables departments and current students to create and share content that will be accessed by applicants.

“International students also have more choice about how they communicate with each other and stay in touch with friends and family”

With 95% of international students in the US owning a smartphone, whether through WeChat, WhatsApp, Viber, Snapchat or Hangouts, mobile is central to the student experience.

Another key way for universities to attract international students and ensure that they have a positive experience while studying in the UK, is to provide a high-quality Wi-Fi network, that will both support studying and research, and guarantee a vital link back to home.

This is crucial, particularly for international students, who may get hit with costly bills when studying abroad, and want the reassurance of being able to stay connected no matter where they are in the world.

And, of course, providing reliable access to the internet can also have a positive impact on studies too. Recent surveys have shown three-quarters of students at US colleges said that technology has a significantly positive or positive impact on their academic success.

Networking manufacturers, such as TP-Link, have a range of products that provide high quality, secure and scalable Wi-Fi solutions that offer seamless indoor and outdoor coverage, such as a network site survey.

Embracing mobile content creation and making it as easy as possible for international students to get online and stay connected not only encourages more students to study at your institution, it also ensures that they are more likely to be happy and – ultimately – successful during their time there.

Getting online in education has never been more important, or more achievable.

About the authorWill Liu is UK country manager of TP-Link a leading business in connected networking devices for schools and businesses.