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Teesside University: a journey to exceptional international growth.

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Teesside University prides itself on being innovative.

From progressive approaches to the curriculum – including being an early adopter of the two year Master’s programmes – to its calendar of student mobility initiatives and its strength in partner relationships, it is at the forefront of international student recruitment.

Having kicked off our partnership in 2014, Teesside was one of our first higher education partners in the UK and, together, we’ve been on a staggering growth journey.

Over the past three years in particular, Teesside has experienced exceptional growth in international recruitment volumes.

We support Teesside with end-to-end communications and conversion at every stage of the international student journey, from the first point of interest through to enrolment. As both a driver of and response to the growth in international student numbers, the scale of our partnership has increased massively.

The numbers speak for themselves. In the two years from 2019 to 2021 alone, we have managed over 300% more future student journeys and have contributed to an 800% increase in enrolments.

And having just extended our partnership for another five years, we intend to continue that steep upward trajectory.

Why UniQuest?

Rewinding back to 2014, Teesside was looking for a partner that, put simply, could help it convert more international students onto enrolment.

The university recognised that resourcing constraints meant there was an upper ceiling on what could be achieved alone, and it didn’t want to rely too heavily on agents.

Crucially, Teesside University wanted a partner that understood that international development work is a people business first and foremost, and which could deliver an engaging and personable service to prospective students.

Teesside also didn’t want a partner that felt like an ‘outsider’, and our ability to act as a seamless extension of its internal teams, coupled with the fact that they’ve been dealing with the same UniQuest team members since the start of the relationship, has been hugely valuable to them.

In the words of George Hunt, Director of International Development at Teesside University, “the service has always been just about as in-house as an outsourced provider could possibly be”.

Informing intelligent decision-making

Our insight into student behaviours and preferences has helped to shape Teesside’s decision-making over the past eight years – both in terms of “business as usual” operations and in responding to unprecedented global events.

A combination of weekly reports and access to our customisable data dashboard provides Teesside with in-depth analysis on student pipelines, campaign performance, blockers, positive and negative sentiments, along with our recommendations for improving marketing communications.

Our understanding of what the priorities and communication preferences are for specific cohorts has enabled Teesside to target them more effectively – for example, in trying to increase the number of undergraduate applicants… which we achieved with a 37% year-on-year increase!

Beyond the norm, we’ve also supported Teesside throughout our partnership in periods of market uncertainty. The Covid-19 pandemic is the most notable recent example, presenting a totally new challenge for universities. We saw widespread nervousness from institutions about the best way to respond.

Through our FAQ data, we were able to advise on issues such as student appetite for online study vs on campus and any frustrations with CAS management. Teesside also found access to the UniQuest partner forum incredibly valuable, enabling them to tap into a hivemind of institutions who are all thinking innovatively about the way in which they operate, and which are not necessarily “fishing in each other’s pools” Director of International Development

Adapting to market trends

The pandemic also saw a shift in the way students were submitting their enquiries, with a greater number than ever before turning to live chat.

Across the UniQuest partner group in 2021, live chat usage quadrupled. This was coupled with an overall rise in the volume of enquiries. Teesside received four times as many inbound communications in 2021 than 2019, and an 88% increase in live chat usage.

In response to this, we expanded Teesside’s live chat team to make sure we were meeting this demand and giving prospective students a positive engagement experience. As a result of this, we successfully increased conversion from students using live chat by 64% on the previous year.

The lack of face-to-face activity in this period also saw us introduce webinars for Teesside, enabling them to take pre-departure activities online. In 2021, we hosted more than 6,000 international students in our webinar series, which in turn generated over 4,000 questions – demonstrating that students greatly valued the platform as a means of clarifying information.

“UniQuest has helped us to streamline our international applicant conversion activity while adding an additional layer of sophistication – whether that be through developing new channels to engage with prospective students, or using data-led insights to inform decision making. UniQuest understands the priorities and communication preferences of our applicants, helping us to deliver personalized support to our future students at a scale and speed that we could not otherwise achieve. They are invaluable colleagues in a seamless extension of our team.”

George Hunt, Director of International Development, Teesside University
What next?

Teesside University is currently receiving record applications. To help support the institution with this, our partnership will evolve to see us providing even more sophisticated lead scoring services – helping to ensure Teesside gets the best possible applicants.

We’ll also be continuing to optimise Teesside’s engagement channels and approaches to make sure they are as smooth and user-friendly as possible. Teesside’s desire to remain proactive and to stand out from a competitive market means that, together, we’ll never stop asking “how can we do things better?”

Contact us to find out how UniQuest can support your student enrolment.