Higher education is a significant international business with students travelling all over the world in search of their ideal institution. So, understandably, the market for university student enrolments is hugely competitive. Australian universities are not just competing with each other for future students, but with educational institutions from all corners of the planet.

To stand out to future students, universities need to have a clear strategy and approach to attracting and retaining new students. New technologies are a key component in this to help universities better engage with prospective students during their search, consideration and enrolment stages.

This article takes a look at some of the new technologies including Chatbots and AI which are developing in the higher education sector to enhance student experience and boost enrolment numbers.

Technology: ChatBots

 It is no secret that good customer experience across all touchpoints is critical to gaining and retaining customers, and universities are no different in this respect. Providing a seamless student experience can play a critical role in securing future students for universities.

ChatBots are a great tool to engage prospective students, and their popularity makes sense when you think that most students are from Gen Z and denizens of the Internet. Today’s students are accustomed to using multiple digital channels and have an expectation for instant responses to queries, which ChatBots can meet.

ChatBots can deal with both simple and complex questions posed by prospective students, they can assist new students with the enrolment process and information can be accessed freely and quickly at any time of the day or night. Ultimately, it is about providing students with a familiar and easy-to-use communication tool to allow questions to be answered and provide easy interactions with the University’s systems and processes. Read more about Enterprise ChatBots here.

Technology: Marketing automation

 Marketing automation technology can provide great marketing and operational benefits to higher education providers. Marketing automation allows university staff to give up many lower-order ‘menial’ tasks and focus on attracting and retaining students. Universities can use marketing automation to identify and nurture prospective students and execute highly personalised marketing campaigns, for example, showcasing the relevant programs on offer to the right students at the right time. By delivering key messages to students during their consideration stage, universities improve their chances of securing enrolment. Universities using marketing automation can also communicate on multiple and relevant channels, such as WeChat for prospective Chinese students or Line for Japanese students.

In a highly competitive environment, marketing automation technology enables universities to stand out in a crowded market with targeted and timely messages, and expand their future student audience without wasting precious ‘people’ working hours.

Technology: AI

 With Australian universities having an attrition rate of around 15% for first-year students, gaining new students is just the first challenge; universities also need to retain them. Underperforming students or those likely to drop-out (‘at risk’ students) are more easily identified using Artificial Intelligence (AI). Once at risk students have been identified, the AI can provide highly personalised communication to assist students who are experiencing, or likely to experience difficulties with their studies.

By identifying and assisting at risk students, universities can improve student retention and performance figures. Not only does this help students on their journey to graduation and retain existing ‘customers’ for the university, but these performance figures influence the overall reputation of a university and, in turn, the choices of future prospective students. So, it is very much in every university’s interest to ensure their students are adequately supported through their studies. See more ways in which AI will help to change and shape the future of universities.

Technology: Digital channels of the future

A university needs to be able to communicate with its prospective students through the mediums they feel most comfortable and at ease with. Universities that communicate with students on their preferred platforms and across the entire digital landscape (social media, voice, video, web chat) make it easy for students to interact and stay engaged. This keeps the university top of mind and in ‘the everyday life’ of students, and gives prospective students more confidence in the university and their student care.

Reaching students on their preferred platform aids communication with international students, in particular. Talking with a prospective student in their first language and via their preferred channels can help to ease concerns and help them feel more comfortable and familiar about entering a new country, culture and university environment, which means the university will be better positioned to secure their enrolment.


 In the highly competitive global higher education market, the importance of gaining and retaining new students cannot be understated. Ultimately, all universities offer a similar service, so being able to cut through to get a prospective student to choose and stay at your university is paramount.

Technologies such as Chatbots, marketing automation and AI are innovative technologies helping universities secure students and reduce attrition rates by communicating with students in the places they hang out, at any time and in a highly personalised way. These technologies help to provide a seamless experience for the student through the search, consideration and enrolment processes making it easier for the student to choose your university at every interaction.

If you would like to find out how ChatBots can help your university or business, then book a free conversation with one of our experts.

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