The evolving international student experience: Why it should matter to providers
International students know more than anyone that making the move and studying overseas is a big decision. Choosing where to study isn’t just based on what degree you want to do, and those education providers who treat you with high levels of positive customer service are worth seeking out.
Experiences outside the classroom
Studying overseas can be expensive, so whenever education providers are able to give their students access to free or discounted events, it goes a long way. Whether this is having a vibrant culture on campus that includes a wide selection of extracurricular activities to take part in, letting you know about student discounts, or holding off-campus events like international student meetups or local tours and activities, going the extra mile to provide these out of classroom experiences is something to look out for.
For students – many providers hold an Orientation Week at the start and the middle of the year, and attending sessions at these events is a great way to find out what new activities you might be interested in. Throughout the rest of the year, you can find out what’s happening on campus through student associations, or – if they have one – engaging with your education provider’s international student society.
It goes without saying that being kept in the loop about activities and initiatives is important to most students, but education providers who regularly communicate with their international student community are able to offer the best overseas study experience possible.
Students choosing an education provider ought to make sure that the provider they’re looking into sends regular emails to their students, and that their social media channels are up to date with content on things to do and activities to get involved in. A good way to judge the quality of this communication is to see if there are links to more information, engaging imagery and detailed information in any emails you’re sent.
Also, having social media channels that encourage a two way dialogue through asking questions and quickly responding to queries is another way to ascertain the quality of provider communication.
Personalised payment plans
Having to pay your fees up front can certainly be a financial challenge, but there are now more and more options for paying tuition fees in instalments, rather than one or two lump sums a year.
Look for education providers who give you the option of signing up to a personalised payment plan, as this will allow you to balance your finances throughout your study journey. Education providers who choose to engage with companies like Cohort Go are able to create individual plans for international students and can set reminder notifications so that you’re able to know exactly what you need to pay and when.
Strong customer following
It goes without saying that word of mouth referrals are powerful for all businesses, but this is particularly the case for education providers. Knowing how to engage with the international student community is key to establishing a strong student following; with many of the relationships forged between students and alumni generating online and offline endorsements.
Having these endorsements in a centralised spot, such as a student review site or forum, will allow you to use the power of community to make judgements on which education provider might be the best one for you to engage with.
Links to industry
At the end of the day, the reason that you’ve made the decision to study in Australia is to gain employment in the field of your study. Education providers who provide practical tools within their programs to enhance employability, are not only able to provide you with the real world skills needed to succeed within your new job, but can also help connect you to reputable organisations looking to host interns and hire graduates.
Look for educators who perform well in graduate employability rankings, and who host employer information sessions, workshops, careers fairs and other events designed to help international students and employers network.
It can be difficult to know what to look for in an education provider outside of the course qualifications, but by looking at places of study where there’s a strong emphasis on customer focused outcomes, you’ll be likely to have a more enjoyable and rewarding international study experience.
Mark Fletcher is CEO and co-founder ofCohort Go; a leading edtech company that connects the international education community. Recognised for growth and innovation, Cohort Go’s online platform offers a tailored experience for students, agents and educators by reducing costs, increasing choice and improving productivity. The Cohort Go global network includes over 2,000 education providers and agents and more than 50,000 students from more than 180 countries.