Now, when Russian universities are completing the recruitment campaign of 2021 and it is already possible to assess the main trends that have developed this season, it is very interesting to discuss a new format for presenting universities to an international audience – virtual student exhibitions and fairs.
Having begun to develop as a response to the pandemic restrictions, online exhibitions were considered as a temporary replacement for traditional face-to-face events.
Today, we can confidently say that the transfer of exhibition activities of universities to online has taken place, and it has established as a separate industry that works according to its own rules, offering universities effective ways to attract an international students.
The Education Export Center was one of the first organizers of online exhibitions and presentations under the auspices of hybrid methods of recruiting foreign students. In our opinion, in the new conditions, actually effective online exhibitions should be the result of the efforts of all parties involved: the EEC as an organizer, its wide network of foreign partners and, of course, the universities themselves. Working closely together, we all regularly improve the quality and efficiency of events, which is confirmed by the objective indicators available to us, and by the expert assessments of our colleagues regarding the dynamics ofтthe development of the online educational exhibition industry.
In a short period of time, we have gone from holding online presentations in the format of Global RED marathons to complex and logically verified multi-day events of RED Expo, when every day we conduct various activities and use different tools to attract and retain the attention of applicants. Relying on our experience, we want to share our observations on the best practices for the participation of universities in such events and the prospects for the development of the international sector for attracting foreign students in the context of hybrid recruitment systems.
How does the RED Expo format work?
The RED Expo online exhibition is a multifunctional platform for organizing a systematic recruitment of foreign students in the main macro-regions that source students. The resources of the international network of partners of the EEC are attracted to implement this platform, a large-scale advertising campaign is organized in the target regions, unified advertising and information materials are prepared in the format of landing pages and presentations, live broadcasts are held for potential applicants using TV broadcasting technologies and business sessions for students recruiting companies. During the entire period of the event, applications are collected from potential applicants and they are involved in the activities of RED Expo by informing them through social networks, sending emails and communicating in messengers.
Recommendations for universities
Find a balance between providing information and giving a presentation
Online exhibitions for universities are, first of all, an opportunity to present all the information about a university on the exhibition page (stand) and to make attendants remember the presentation. The principles of online exhibitions allow applicants to get all needed information in a comfortable and convenient environment. Therefore, place all the details about the documents required for admission and the dates of the beginning and end of the work of the admission committee on the stand, and use the presentation to create a positive emotional impression: tell everyone about the career prospects of graduates, the marvelous student life, great opportunities for self-realization and a unique chance to get an unforgettable experience of living in your region.
Create and constantly add to your collection of photos and videos
Today, more than ever before, great attention should be paid to the quality of marketing materials that represent the university. Besides informing about educational opportunities, they should also cause pleasant impressions. This rule applies not only to digital content that a university places on social networks, but also to any electronic booklet and banner. Despite the presence of various media banks, free photos and videos, we encourage you to create your own, unique content that will allow you to stand out from the general range and, believe me, will create a favorable feeling for the reader and potential entrant from learning about your university. By offering unique content, you show your concern for the applicants now, even before they become your students.
Participate in online exhibitions only if you are ready to process the results effectively
During the online exhibition period, you may receive requests from potential applicants, but even more applicants will hesitate to write to you for various reasons. At the end of the online exhibitions, the organizers usually send all participants a complete database of received applications and registrations, indicating, if possible, the priority major for the applicant. This is the most important result of the university's participation in the online exhibition, so take care of the resulting data set. Use all communication channels to win the heart of the applicant – it is not enough just to send an email, invite them to a personal interview via video conferencing services, conduct a virtual tour of the university, have them subscribed to your social networks!
Start working with recruiting partners
An integral part of the online exhibitions held by the Education Export Center is the constant presence of recruiting companies, and not only from the target regions: promoting the establishment of working relations between Russian universities and foreign student recruiters is at the heart of our activities. We recommend that you take a closer look at such organizations. The fact is that, after going through the consequences of the pandemic, many recruiters have revised their values and tend to abandon the non-obvious prospect of chasing big sums of money, collaborating with dozens of universities at the same time, in favor of more relaxed formats of relations built on loyalty to one university, up to the provision of extra services in addition to recruiting, such as representing the interests of the university at local educational exhibitions, market research and advertising.