How effective are the online information and enquiry services of the top 500 universities? The British Council’s Elizabeth Shepherd looks at new research that evaluates the recruitment process through the eyes of prospective international students.
How were the top 500 universities assessed?
The research involved a group of five international students who evaluated universities based on the ‘findability’ of their websites, the ease of locating important information, and their responsiveness to enquiries. The results formed an overall score of the world’s top 500 institutions: the ‘Student Eyes Rating’.
What were the findings of the research?
When it came to the responsiveness of institutions to student enquiries, 57 per cent of universities replied within 24 hours, 15 per cent replied within four days and eight per cent took more than five days. An astonishing 21 per cent of the top 500 institutions did not reply to student enquiries at all.
When looking at the results aggregated by region, institutions in North America and Europe were found to respond quickest to student enquiries, while Asia and Australia where the highest in the no-response category.
The example of a UK institution that performed well in the study
The research was presented earlier to the international department of a top-500 UK institution that performed well as part of this study. It sparked a lot of discussion about the success of the department’s focus on search engine optimisation. It also highlighted the need to include more international student testimonials on their website and links to graduate employability.
Interestingly, representatives were not surprised that the humanities department had been identified as more responsive than the business school. They explained that they get so many enquiries from prospective students who want to study MBAs that they find it hard to respond to them all.
What international students think ranking is based on
A question I often ask new or potential international students is what they believe university rankings are based on. Strikingly, many believe rankings are based on universities’ treatment of international students: how they welcome them to the university, the standard of the teaching they receive and the facilities they have access to.
This research for the first time defines the value of the world’s top universities through the eyes of their future students. The findings show how different their perspectives and needs can be.
The research called ‘The world’s top 500 universities through student eyes’ was conducted by British Council IELTS in partnership with Study Portals. It will be presented at the European Association of International Education (EAIE) Conference, taking place from 16 to 19 September 2014.