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Understanding your mature students’ needs and managing their expectations

 

With tuition fees reaching as high as £9,000 per year, joining university nowadays can be considered one of the most difficult decisions aspiring students have to make.

Regardless of whether a student is a member of Generation Z (18-21) or a Millennial (21+), all students have to bear the costs of accommodation and day-to-day living on top of their tuition fees.

According to research from UCAS, the number of UK applicants to full-time undergraduate courses in 2017 were;

  • 71,325 aged 21 to 25
  • 72,550 aged 26 and over

Although there was a proportional decline of 7 % (of 18-21 aged students) and 9.8 % (of 21+ students) respectively compared to 2016, mature students still make up a huge part of the UK’s student population.

It’s therefore crucial for universities to understand the needs of these ‘mature’ students and identify what factors influence their decision to study. To do this, you need to get your prospective students talking to you.

 

In comparison to younger students, mature students have very different concerns when it comes to making the decision to apply for university…

 

One of our higher education clients hosted a series of live chat sessions specifically dedicated to their mature students (those aged 21 and over). Participants were able to ask the admissions teams any questions they had and clear up any concerns they might have. Some of the questions the team received were:

“To start university, I will give up my full-time job. What kind of support does the university offer students who are looking for a part-time job whilst completing their education?’

“I’m 39 – my main issues starting university is uni/family/work balance – I’m concerned that when it comes to deadlines I will struggle. Any advice? “

The chats revealed that in comparison to younger students, mature students have very different concerns when it comes to making the decision to apply for university. Concerns like ‘will I be able to provide for my family while I’m studying’ and ‘will I receive any financial support’ are of vital importance to them.

Younger students, however, typically ask questions like ‘When can we move in?’, ‘What does the city have to offer for students?’ ‘What societies can I join?’

As a result of hosting chats specifically for mature students, our client was able to gain a better understanding of their concerns. Feedback following the chat was really positive with an NPS score of 100 and direct comments like “Thanks for setting this up. It was good to get advice for older students”.

Whilst much of the conversion activity universities conduct centres on benefiting younger students, it’s important not to forget your mature students. Having knowledge of different concerns when it comes to applying for university can allow you to provide more tailored support, manage students’ expectations and have higher conversion rates.

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