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5/14/2019

Education

How Canadian higher education institutions can attract more international students and stand out from the competition

A record-breaking number of international students now live in Canada.

Last year, Canada had 570,000 international students – a 60 percent jump from just three years prior.[1] Bloomberg calls this, “the biggest increase in international immigration in more than a century.”

The majority of Canada’s international students – 48 percent – attend institutions in Ontario. The next two provinces with the most foreign students are British Columbia with 24 percent and Quebec with 12 percent. Accordingly, the three cities with the highest number of international students are Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal.[2]

These highly educated and skilled students give Canada a huge competitive advantage. According to Bloomberg, “More than 65 percent of foreign-born adults had a post-secondary degree in 2017, the highest share tracked by members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.”

After they graduate, 60 percent of international students want to become permanent residents[3] so that they have the ability to find jobs or start businesses. Students who put their educations to work in Canada have a positive impact on both their communities and the economy. Research has shown that foreign students contributed $15.5 billion and 170,000 jobs to Canada’s GDP in 2017.[4]

How can your educational institution attract more international students?

International students offer schools a welcome source of income, as they pay significantly more in tuition than domestic students. For example, foreign engineering students pay $32,700 a year, while local students pay $4,500.[5]

It’s not surprising that higher education institutions are competing fiercely for this pool of talent. In fact, The University of British Columbia at Vancouver will increase its target for foreign students to 30 percent by 2022 – double its cap of 15 percent in 2014. And this is just one of the many institutions across Canada that is actively recruiting international students.

With so much competition, how can your institution stand out?

One way to differentiate yourself is by ensuring that your admission and onboarding processes align with how your institution markets itself. For example, many institutions promote themselves as having high-tech campuses with state-of-the-art classrooms. But, in reality, they registrars and admission staffs still store and retrieve printed student records. Using paper for key admissions and record-keeping processes creates a disconnect.

Here are four ways to streamline and automate your admissions processes so that you can make it easy for international students to say “yes” to your offers:

1. Engage potential students with interactive technology.

Virtualise your campus tours and admissions processes to give international students a preview of what it is like to be on campus.

Unified communications tools, such as Skype, allow you to interview students virtually. Face-to-face interaction is a key part of engaging prospective students and motivating them to choose your institution. It allows both you and the prospective student to evaluate each other and ask questions.

If you need to bring more than one member of your faculty or admissions team on the video call, you can use an interactive flat panel display (IFPD). An IFPD makes it easy for you to collaborate face-to-face with people from around the world without physically being in the same room. You can also share files and presentations with prospective students.

2. Automate your document-driven processes.

Make the application process as smooth as possible–for both international students and your registrar staff–by automating your workflows.

Paper-based processes cause a lot of headaches. For example, many higher education institutions are tight on space and don’t have the room – or the budgets – to store paper files. Your staff can also spend a lot of time searching for information, especially if the files that they need are spread across siloed campuses or departments. According to IDC[6], digitising your workflows can save your staff 3.1 hours each week and reduce your errors by 51.6 percent.

Automating your student exemptions, credit transfers, and registrations eliminate many headaches. Staff in the registrar’s office won’t need to waste hours searching for papers and shuffling them around. Instead, they can devote more time to assisting students.

Meanwhile, automating your information management improves your data security. Any student records and transcripts that come into your systems–no matter their source–will route to a secure repository that is only accessible by authorised personnel.

Automating your workflows can also reduce your admissions and transfer processes from weeks to just days–saving your staff time and making international students happier.

3. Make your admissions forms available in multiple languages.

Dynamic web forms automatically translate your admissions documents into any language – making your application process accessible to students around the world. For example, you can send students status updates in their preferred language. They will receive your dynamic notifications much faster than the acceptance letters that institutions typically send via postal mail. This gives you an advantage, as a student may choose your institution while they’re waiting to hear back from others.

4. Help students adjust to campus life – before they set foot on campus.

Give students a head-start before they arrive on campus. For example, you can digitise your processes so that students can complete forms and register for classes online before they arrive in Canada. This makes their transition easier, as they will have peace of mind that their class schedule is sorted before they arrive.

Why now is the time to automate your admissions

Automating your processes allows you to present a better image to today’s tech-savvy students. Streamlining your admissions processes not only makes it easier for international prospects to apply but also helps you attract more students from within Canada.

Discover how other educational institutions are delivering better student experiences. Visit RicohChangeMakers.ca/Education.

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  1. Bloomberg Businessweek: Canada Says, Give Me Your MBAs, Your Entrepreneurs’, January 2, 2019
  2. Canadian Bureau for International Education: International Students in Canada, August 2018
  3. SI News: Over half of Canada’s international students want to stay after graduation, June 1, 2018
  4. The Globe and Mail: Foreign students transforming Canada’s schools, immigration, October 19, 2018
  5. Bloomberg Businessweek: Canada Says, Give Me Your MBAs, Your Entrepreneurs’, January 2, 2019
  6. "IDC Survey Spotlight, Benefits of Digitizing, Automating, and Optimizing Document-Centric Workflows, doc #US42772417, June 2017'