“higher education is one of the most inefficiently run industries in the US”
He goes on to list what universities need to do to improve; this includes the need for differentiation, focus and leadership. If you know me, you can probably already guess where I’m going with this; not only do we need to consider the effect of the financial crisis on recruitment but we can also look at his suggestions in light of the impending announcement on fees in Sweden.
I have been recently writing a report regarding the effect tuition fees will have on the university. One of the reviewers was concerned that we will probably continue to use studera.nu as our application tool after the introduction of fees. This is despite that fact that most other universities, elsewhere in the world, handle applications for post graduate applications themselves.
The UK is a good example. Their online application system, UCAS, is for undergraduate applications. Post graduate applications, whether from national or international students, are handled by the university – usually at the faculty level. Why? Well, it means that the faculty has direct control over the process, rather than a third party being involved. An undergraduate application is about getting the right grades, a post graduate application is much more complex involving a more subtle assessment of grades, motivation and appropriateness of experience. Also, the recruitment process is a key part of conversion – do you really want to have that out of your control?
The University of Gothenburg’s School of Business, Economics and Law handles their own admissions – a distinct competitive advantage for them. They’ve already got an edge now, as their application period is almost a month longer than the new one from studera. Gothenburg can, no doubt, respond quickly to student enquiries and give rapid acceptance decisions. Studera.nu, on the other hand, will not even tell you if your documents have arrived.
Sweden in Touch, is a new site for international students and was launched on the 1st of October. Its aim is to network all the international students in Sweden, of which there are approximately 28 000. It has been launched by the Swedish Institute. The first goal of the website is to reach 3 000 of the international students in Sweden.
I think it’s a great site – there’s already a whole bunch of people on it and a number of university networks.
I was at a breakfast seminar recently where I got to see Olle Wästberg give a presentation about Sweden as a brand. Olle Wästberg is the director of the Swedish Institute and previous Consulate General in New York. One of the things he talked about was the aim of the Swedish Institute to have an ‘omnipresence’ of Sweden on the web. This is clearly the case, when you look at the high quality of some of their other websites, for example, Study in Sweden.
Out of the can, Google Analytics is a powerful analytics tool with the potential to do about 80% of what a commercial tool can do. However, outbound links are not captured by Google which has two effects; first, you miss out on data has to how useful those outbound links are to your users and, secondly, it creates a bounce rate value which is probably incorrect.
This includes PDFs as well. We recently launched a new list of our master’s programmes as a PDF. I have seen, from our log files, that earlier versions of this previously had a ton of downloads. But, the log file data is pretty dumb, and does not allow me to find the answers to any business questions. Like, for example, did marketing activity in a particular country lead to any increased traffic to our website?
Furthermore, the logfile data is a mixture of both human and robot traffic, so it’s hard to really assess the pdf’s impact.
By adding an additional attribute to the html of the link,Google Analytics can record the views of the pdf. You fool GA into thinking the pdf is a ‘virtual’ page. Assuming you’ve got the GA tracking code installed on your page, you’ll be able to gather data about the pdf. The attribute is a simple piece of code, the only ‘watch fors’ are make sure you use the right code (appropriate to the version of urchin tracker you are using) and label the pdf in a sensible way.
The very cool thing now is we can segment the data as we like in GA. Of course, it needs good business questions to get any sense from the data and, as always, you have to be wary of the wierd results which GA sometimes gives; but it moves a step away from the act of faith that publishing brochures usually is.