10 October 2014
The Connected Generation use Web Chat Software
HESA (the Higher Education Statistics Agency) collects a range of data every year UK-wide from universities, higher education colleges and other funded providers of higher education. The research institute is even kind enough to share these official statistics in many accessible formats. If you’ve already taken a look through the 2013 data you will probably have noticed an interesting demographic shift in first-time undergraduates applying for university or higher education courses.
Since the tuition fee increase from £1,000 in 1998 to £9,000 in 2013, there has been a significant drop-off in the number of mature students applying for undergraduate courses. A report from the BBC stated that the drop-off in applications from mature students was significantly higher than the 3.6% drop in applications from 18 to 20 year old.
So what does this mean for universities keen to resolve admissions enquiries?
Firstly, there’s no need to panic. It just means you have to focus even more on the majority of your audience, i.e. the school-leavers. Since the turn of the millennium technology has had a profound effect in shaping UK society, just think of how many teenagers you see walking around with smartphones. Twelve years ago you were considered cool if you owned Nokia 3410; anyone remember that beautiful shade of turquoise?
Without a major war, achievement by mankind or other noteworthy events to define the post-millennial generation it seems fair to label this UK demographic as the ‘Connected Generation’. As a result any independent researcher will tell you that the young adults of today (I’m talking about 16 to 25 year olds) expect instant answers to their questions and are generally more shy about face-to-face or oral conversations. Email and text-based communication is now the favoured method of communication with the latter being the only real-time alternative to calling someone. Interesting, yes, but what does this knowledge have to do with overseeing the admissions process?
The connected generation is a new kind of challenge that needs to be met with a more direct, efficient and shorter form of engagement
On the surface this might sound challenging, but it’s actually an opportunity to reduce the burden on your admissions, accommodations and other student-facing teams.
The work we have been doing with universities has already proven how effective a text-based channel like web chat software can be when reaching out to students. It has also provided some valuable insights into the kind of spontaneous questions that web chat software can elicit. Our own clients found that between May – July, 57% of the questions were admissions-based, 35% pertained to more general queries and accommodation took up approximately 8%. Our research shows that the questions will change according to what is most prevalent on the UK’s academic calendar.
In terms of uptake, most industries see around 3% but for universities uptake can reach 7% or higher because the demographic is so predictable. Universities that took advantage of our proactive chat invitation saw uptakes regarding student advice reach anywhere from 55% to 80%.
The younger generation is the most insecure so it makes sense that they would look to have their anxieties settled through a communication medium that they feel most comfortable with. The web wall allows nervous freshmen to ask what they might feel are obvious questions without opening themselves up for ridicule. Our data has shown that after students have used web chat software to contact universities they are also much more likely to use this channel than phone or email for further questions.
Whether you wish to gradually roll-out live chat, or implement the facility across all departments maximising the benefits, Click4Assistance will scale to suit your needs offering consultancy, simple implementation and full training