Christmas – Happy Holidays!

Hi there!

I’d just like to say a big thank you to everyone who has read this blog – I hope it’s useful! It’s been great to have contact with so many people and it’s a very rewarding experience. I’m taking some leave over the next few days so I won’t be able to answer comments straight away. Happy holidays!

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Easier for international students to get a work permit in Sweden.

On the 15th of December the Swedish Government introduced new, liberal, immigration rules; visiting students will now be able to apply for a work and residence permit after completing one semester (term) of study, or the equivalent of 30 higher education credits, without having to leave Sweden.

The Local (Swedish news in English) reports the background to this story.

Web is the number one source of information for international students.

Which should not be a surprise, but it seems worth repeating now and again. I recently sent out a questionnaire to our master students, asking them about the relative importance of the various ways we communicate we them. 239 students answered and an overwhelming 61% said that the university’s website was very important when they made their choice of studying at Lund. 52% said that the opinion of someone who had been at Lund was very important. Least important were exhibitions (8%) and brochures (10%).  How can you action this? Well, the warm feeling is that the most important source of information, our website, is something we can improve and monitor with a relatively low investment of time and money (compared to brochures and exhibitions, for example).  The importance of alumni is also shown here, investment in them – as ambassadors for our university – is clearly going to be of value.  

Could we, for example, totally shut down brochure production and invest that money into the website? Well, that would be a brave step on the basis of these data  and it has to be, at some level, valuable to have something printed to give away. What I can see, however, is that our Master’s Brochure on the web has had an extremely high number of views in the last two months and that some of these views are associated with users who went on to visit our programme pages and clicked ‘apply now’.  A combination of the two mediums, web and print, gives us more insight into the success of a brochure and takes advantage of our primary marketing tool, the web.

Trending Upward, analytics blog for higher education

Check out Trending Upward, an analytics blog for higher education whose latest post definitely falls into the category ‘I wish I’d written that’.  I have not taken a look through the older posts, but the latest one emphasises that it’s not enough just to install Google Analytics, you actually need to do something with it. I like the baseline data KPIs which the post describes and, particularly, the % who use the course catalogue. For example, I’ve used Google Analytics to measure the success of our latest Masters Brochure PDF which, particularly when I used the new advanced segmentation features, gave a really good picture of who is using it and provides an excellent benchmark for future activities.

Studera.nu – a brief guide

We’re at the start of the application period for master’s programmes, in Sweden, and I thought it may be useful to gather together the answers to some of the questions I’ve been getting. So, here’s  some basic guidance to making your application to a university in Sweden.

studera.nu

– You make your application online, at www.studera.nu

– If you want to apply for a master’s programme then click on the top menu link ‘Second Cycle Master/advanced level’

– Studera.nu is run by the National Agency for Services to Universities and University Colleges (abbreviated VHS, in Swedish)

– You apply online, but you must also send your documents to Sweden

– You do not send your documents to the university, but to an address given at studera.nu

– You can only apply for 4 master programmes (the anchor in the page did not work for me, search the page for ‘application’)

– Online applications close on the 15th January 2009

– Documents must arrive by the 1st February 2009

– If in doubt, contact the master’s coordinator for the programme you are interested in with any questions, it’s their job to answer them.

There’s a facebook group which deals with studera, though note that it is not official.

American English vs British English…

Which version of English to use on our website? I think American English. Cue gasps of horror from my fellow British  ex-pats, and mutterings of treachery to the mother tongue. But hold on. Who are we writing for? Ourselves, our old English teacher? No, we are writing for the users of the website who, predominantly, will probably have American English as their first or second language. Furthermore, what language are they searching in? They are not using the Queen’s English to search in Google, that’s for sure, if they have American English as their language.

Jakob Nielsen has an article discussing this, where his conclusion is that as many of our students are Asian or American, then using American English is probably the best bet. I discussed this with him at the seminar he refers to, which was extremely useful – I’ll blog more about it later.