Ideas & musings about consumer behaviour

Is the information on university websites enough to cater to the needs of current students?

University websites are often the starting point for every student when planning their future course of study. More so, when they apply as an international student. The university website continues to remain the main source of information once a student gets admitted into the university. Is this a notion that universities share? Do they believe their website is as important for providing information to current students ?

A quick look at some of the top Australian university websites will give you a sense of how heavily the information provided is tailored to cater to prospective students. The language used in the content delivered, the images supporting the content and the emphasis placed on aspects such as ‘life on campus when you’re a student at our university’, further echoes the importance universities place on curating website content for prospective students.

The results from a recent research study we conducted on the Higher Learning industry, in Q4 2018, highlights ‘information overload’ to be a major issue for university websites. Prospective students found it difficult when locating course information on university websites. Comments like “the navigation is hard to follow”, “information is not where I expected it to be” were common themes of issues faced by prospective students, according to our research study.

Being an international student who applied to several universities in Australia, I vividly remember how arduous the task of finding the right course was.

Further, on being admitted into the course of my choice, I was given access to a different platform- the intranet of the university. However, the issue of finding the right information, continued to persist. The seamless flow of information from the main web page of the university to their intranet was lost in the amount of information provided. So, while universities do attempt to cater to current students via a different platform, their efforts are not entirely fruitful.

As a current student, I was often confused about avenues that were available to me during and after the completion of my course and would often feel the need to reach out to a university representative for answers to my queries. Questions relating to a possible switch in my course path or different avenues of enhancing the degree I enrolled into, were aspects I could never find answers to. I would often have to go back and forth between the main website and the intranet to figure where the answers to my questions lied.

The glaring issue lies with the emphasis that universities place on catering to the needs of prospective students and not as much on the needs of current students. Apart from that, I also felt there was:

  1. Information overload on both these platforms- website and the intranet and
  2. No clear signposting of where to find what information and for which student.

When international students enroll into a course, they do so with the expectation that the university will cater to all their needs.

A seamless website experience may be a way of showing both sets of students what the university has to offer – right from when they are deciding on a course to when they get admitted into the course of their choice and beyond.

It would be interesting to uncover what expectations current students have from your university and how the website architecture influences their perception and behavior through research studies. While we don’t have exact data on what your current students look for, we are capable of tailoring our research study to meet your needs.

The data from your website can reveal more than just what your students need. It can also help you understand the factors influencing the decision making of students and why they choose other brands over yours. It can also unravel aspects on your website that work for you and those that go against you. Get in touch with us to see how data from our ‘Bespoke’ research study can benefit your brand’s needs.

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