How to Trust a New University?
Ways to create trust when entering a new market
STUDENT RECRUITMENT ECOSYSTEM DEVELOPMENT
"I found that new university in a Facebook Ad: Accredited, affordable, from Europe... My dream was always to study in Europe. As a fresh grad and from a humble family environment, I don't have the financial resources to spend big on further education. I don't know anybody who studied at this university. My friends, mentors, and university faculty didn't hear about this university either.
While it checks all my boxes how can I trust their statements? Are they real or am I going to spend a lot of my resources to obtain nothing in exchange?"
TRUST is so critical. In global higher education, it is common for students to study for their degrees 1000 km away from their hometown. Only a limited % of universities have a global brand, a reputation that validates them. However, the majority of universities are "nameless" outside of their campus locations.
Having said this, it should not be the end of the university's ambition to grow internationally and create a diversified global student body. Here are 3 areas through which this trust can be built.
Let's start with the area over which you have the most control: Communication. It entails where and how you communicate. This includes your web and all other digital or non-digital assets you are controlling. Be transparent, detailed, and anticipative of any question. Reach out to your candidates in a proactive and timely manner. If you exceed expectations at every single touchpoint, you can be very confident that you start building that trust that you didn't have at the beginning of the candidate journey.
Students & Alumni
Turn your students and alumni into your ambassadors. You are not controlling them but if you provide a valuable academic journey and an engaging student experience, your students and alumni will actively talk about it. You can help them amplify their positive experiences through all your digital and non-digital assets. Don't be surprised that your students and alumni are well connected. You might witness a snowball effect and your reputation can grow exponentially.
Third-party endorsements are the ultimate goal to gain trust. While you can influence your communications and your ambassadors, external stakeholders have their own criteria when measuring you. Here is a list of third-party endorsements you should thrive for:
Government: These endorsements can be issued by the local government recognizing your institution and the degrees offered. These official endorsements are important especially when it comes to student visa or work permit issuance.
Academic Partners: your partner network can help you elevate your trust as you will be perceived among their peers.
Accreditation Bodies: There are several private accreditation organizations like AACSB, AMBA, and EQUIS for business schools for example. They review the entire organization to deem them fit to offer certain degrees.
Rating Agencies: For smaller or more specialized higher education institutions, ratings (badges) might be the best way to achieve an endorsement. Organizations popular for these ratings are QS and AppliedhHE.
Rankings: There is a variety of rankings that benchmarks universities around the same topic. In order to qualify for these rankings, you need to meet certain minimum criteria. Once you are ranked and can leverage your ranking position, you reached the top of the iceberg.
While endorsements help with the big picture, it's as important to treat every personal relationship as a trust driver. The more positive, professional, and sincere interactions a candidate has with your organization, you are one step closer to achieving the trust you are aiming for. Bear in mind, that a trust-building journey can't be measured in numbers for the upcoming intake.