Standing up to the challenge – how can schools get a grip of digital trends

Study hard so you can get into the best school, and then get the job you want, was pretty much the motto followed by parents and teachers. However, things seem to be changing for student recruitment…

Higher education is one interesting sector to analyse; it has a big presence (and legitimacy) from the public sector, while its clients – future students and graduates – have big economic and social incentives to fight for a spot. It also represents a great environment for creation and innovation in both private and public sectors, and it is a pillar for development in society.

For years, big universities and recognised schools have greatly influenced who has access to a sector. Most students know that to study in a big Business School means not only getting top-notch education, but also having the doors open to a network of key companies, markets, firms and stakeholders. These benefits come with a great economic investment, as well as a personal (and frightening) questioning of what am I going to do with my life ?

However, with the blessings come the curses, especially in an era where fast, connected, immediate-delivery services are in high demand. In an increasingly smaller world, students are looking to the infinite options given by globalization; why narrow your future to a company in Silicon Valley, when you can build a successful Tech career in Singapore, Australia or any other country where innovation is encouraged? Why leave your country, your family and friends, when you can have a top degree by taking online courses in the most recognized institutions in the world? Why spend five years of your life in a school, when you can get specialised skills and get your dream job? These questions show that the world is changing fast, sometimes too fast for institutions where change involves a philosophical, organizational and economic restructuration.

Schools not only have the challenge to give society great professionals but also to listen to the markets and translate their needs into real jobs for their graduates. If everything is changing, how can education follow suit without falling into endless debates? Higher education faces the challenge to attract the best talent, and competition is only getting tougher. The world is now open for highly motivated students and gifted youngsters, and schools must stand out through different channels. What worked twenty or ten years ago would barely have an effect in today’s digital world.

That’s why schools are opting for new methods and taking lessons from digital trends in recruitment. More often, universities are using social media to attract talent; platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and even Snapchat seem more effective to reach out to candidates than traditional online ads or even Facebook. Business schools are using BI tools and data analytics to understand their market, create the profile of their predilect prospect and reach it, and different SEO engines and digital platforms help schools to swim through the endless waters of the internet.

Yet, higher education counts with an element that most sectors yearn for: it has the potential of the best possible talent. A motivated student and professorial body have a key impact on strategic change, innovation and development. Listening to the markets’ needs and using the new methods and technologies in education – e-learning, MOOCs, webinars, skill-oriented certifications - will play a key role in keeping courses adapted to emerging sectors all around the world.

If schools want to attract the next big game-changers, the logic has to change. High standards are a must, but communication must take new ways and seize the opportunities given by social media and innovative technologies such as machine learning and even AI. The latter could play a key role in attracting and recruiting predilect prospects; digital recruitment will transform the way admissions work, with a more open and simple process that involves fewer resources but more investment.

Adapting to globalization not only means going international but also rethinking how we see education and ask the right questions.

Mastersbooking Team

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