Information on educational opportunities now more important
This year, the WU Master’s Day was held online for the first time, drawing more interest from potential students than ever before.
To ensure social distancing in times of the coronavirus pandemic, universities not only have to switch to distance learning but also cancel or postpone their information events. A new survey on student recruiting by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) shows, however, that people interested in starting a degree program are looking for information from universities, especially now in the current situation. As a pioneer of digitalization, WU acted quickly and transferred its information services for prospective students from the physical world to the digital realm – with great success, as the first WU Online Master’s Day showed last week: Almost 2,000 prospective students from 54 nations, including Hungary, Italy, Russia, and the US, participated in the event to find out more about WU and its academic programs.
The results of the QS also show that the coronavirus situation has affected the plans for studying abroad of 53% of the current and prospective students who participated in the survey. Of these 53%, 46% said that the pandemic had merely caused them to postpone their plans of studying abroad, and not to scrap their plans completely. Demand for information about potential host universities is very high. It is therefore very important for universities to keep their communication channels open to provide relevant information to the people who are looking for it.
Cancelling information events is not the way to go
The strong interest in WU’s first online Master’s Day confirms the survey results. The WU Master’s Day is targeted at bachelor’s students interested in starting a master’s program at WU. As WU Rector Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger points out, “It quickly became clear to us that simply cancelling all our planned information events for prospective students was not a route we wanted to or even could take. We carefully looked at all events to see which of them we’d be able to switch to online formats on such short notice. By holding the WU Master’s Day online, we managed to reach a target group we wouldn’t have reached in such high numbers with an on-campus event. We’re a highly international university, and we’re proud to be home to students from over 120 countries. The number of visits and interactions we saw during the WU Master’s Day show that despite the corona situation, interest in WU’s programs remains strong, even across borders.”
A promising format for the future?
The program managers presented the individual WU master’s programs in live video broadcasts, and prospective students had the opportunity to ask specific questions in live chats. Additional information was provided for download, and the teams of WU’s International Office, ZBP Career Center, Study Information office, and the Students’ Union (ÖH) were on hand to answer questions in live chats. “In times of great uncertainty, it’s essential for universities to accommodate the changing needs of their students and prospective students. Internationally, we’re seeing several different tendencies here. WU is well prepared for all possible scenarios of how international student recruiting will evolve. We’ve been taking important steps in this area, with great success and in a very short time. Following the success of the first online Master’s Day, we’re now looking at whether we’ll continue this format in the future, even after returning to our normal operations,” says Rector Hanappi-Egger.