12 takeaways from EAB's spring 2022 roundtable for senior university leaders
In March 2022, EAB gathered senior leaders in London from universities across the U.K. and Ireland to discuss challenges and opportunities facing the sector, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. Read on to review some of the main takeaways from the sessions, as well as perspectives from leaders in the room responding to the latest EAB research.
Sizing the near- and long-term effects of the pandemic on international enrolment
1. Leaders from most institutions fear they’re leaving international student enrolments on the table
Universities historically haven’t effectively leveraged the key strengths and differentiators that resonate with international prospects. Work is now underway to identify institutional stakeholders, unique experiences, and high-value opportunities that have drawn international students in the past. The next step is improving and communicating those opportunities to grow the pipeline.
2. In the wake of the pandemic, international students are increasingly price sensitive, prompting tough questions about balancing mission and finances
Leaders are grappling with the tension between a more diversified portfolio to minimise risk exposure and the tangible costs to realise that objective, given that emerging source markets tend to be more price sensitive. Consequently, more institutions are starting to consider a pricing and aid strategy that balances the goals of diversification and financial sustainability.
3. Current students and academic staff remain largely under-leveraged in the recruitment process
Prospective students crave authentic connections and the opportunity to explore what it’s ‘really’ like at a university, beyond the glossy marketing materials. Current international students and academic staff have informal networks that can help grow the brand and prospect pipeline. Best of all, this ‘inside-out’ strategy requires fewer resources to execute.
4. The pandemic has increased international students’ attention to post-graduate outcomes, driving urgency around dedicated career support
Economic uncertainty has driven demand for post-completion work experience in international students’ study destination country. Most institutions sporadically market post-graduate outcomes to international students, but innovative institutions are building next-level career development service by embedding support into the student experience, even before enrolment.
Demystifying alternative credentials and providers: Opportunities and threats in today’s HE marketplace
5. The alternative marketplace is intensely crowded, prompting anxiety amongst late entrants
51% of the non-degree credential market is controlled by non-traditional providers. For higher education institutions to be competitive, they must avoid competing on price and speed and instead focus on value, quality, and career outcomes.
How to engage campus stakeholders to combat escalating cybersecurity threats
9. When it comes to cyberattacks, it’s not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’
The pandemic has coincided with a rapid rise in cyberattacks across HE, leading to halted operations, leaked personal data, and multi-million-pound losses. In a survey of 500 institutions, 44% reported being hit by ransomware in 2020 alone. Given a university’s high volume of valuable and proprietary data, as well as its ‘digital sprawl’, it’s no surprise universities are frequent targets.
10. Enterprise-wide cybersecurity must begin with senior leadership
Historically, cybersecurity has been seen as an IT issue. But as the digital footprint of institutions have expanded, so have institutions’ risk, with everything from business continuity and student success to research productivity and reputation on the line. Senior leaders must put cybersecurity on the strategic agenda, even if they don’t feel like they have the requisite expertise to do so.
11. Cybersecurity requires the engagement of every stakeholder
Everyone at a university, from the vice chancellor down to honorary lecturers and campus guests, is a potential cybersecurity threat vector. As such, each end-user bears some responsibility for keeping the institution safe. No silver bullet exists, but gamified and carrot-and-stick approaches can bolster the human side of a defense strategy.
12. Enhancing cybersecurity capabilities do not come cheap—but the consequence of doing nothing is worse
Yesterday’s cybersecurity prevention measures (e.g., traditional firewalls, anti-virus software, ad-hoc identity and access systems) aren’t up to the task for today’s threats. But the proactive and automated solutions that most campuses need come with hefty price tags, as do the staff trained to prevent and respond to attacks.