A new sub-iteration of the yearly Bett conference was conducted this year, as a whole roster of sessions and discussion areas were entirely geared to higher education on March 23-25.
Players from across the higher education sector in the UK spoke and took part at the exclusive corner of Bett, held this year in the Excel centre in London, with sessions taking place on new edtech programs, with an interesting discussion centred on edtech disruption in student recruitment.
“We have to begin to discern what the post-Covid world will be like in the recruitment sphere,” said the University of Dundee’s vice principal (international) Wendy Alexander during the panel.
“It’ll be a hybrid experience, but it won’t be the same type of hybridity at every point.
“Data is going to matter,” she continued.
In the panel chaired by THE’s Patrick Hayes, THE’s managing consulting director Elizabeth Shepherd, Alexander and Oxford International Education Group’s David Pilsbury discussed the results of the Global Student Research Panel.
The survey found varying results on different topics – ease of access to online resources gave students “confidence” in their study destination of choice, and there was still appetite for in-person campus tours despite information sessions being held online.
Shepherd noted that 53% of students had their plans to study abroad disrupted by Covid, but only 9% cancelled – proving the appetite is still well and truly alive.
The focus on data, however, continues to be paramount, according to Pilsbury; as generations begin to move on, they don’t need reassurance – they need to see the facts.
“It’s always been data that matters, and we’re seeing development of these companies that can divide those data ports around those important choices students have to, and can make… Generation Z are very much focused on data,” he said.
“Even though the tools were there [to digitalise] it was still very much a challenge”
Another session featured was a presentation by iSchoolConnect, a platform created by Ashish Fernando helping over a million international students with obstacles such as visa interview training and admissions processes.
Two professors from Czechia joined by Breda University’s Perry Hobson to talk about how professors are now more accessible than ever thanks to the rise of digitalisation of the sector during Covid.
“Even though the tools were there [to digitalise] it was still very much a challenge”, said Renáta Tomášková of the University of Ostrava.
“Many of our staff, however, were keen to learn more after the first lockdown,” she continued, telling attendees that the key differences of the Covid-induced digitalisation of universities hinged on the fact it can now be planned, and not rushed in.