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October 31, 2023

Ontario Colleges Excel in Enquiry Experience: Leading the Way in Canadian Higher Education

Fanshawe College Named 'Most Improved' Institution as Enquiry Experience Tracker Highlights Crucial Insights for Institutions

In this year’s Enquiry Experience Tracker (EET23) research, a comprehensive global mystery shopping study, the spotlight is now firmly on Ontario colleges for their commitment to delivering top-notch service to prospective students. New findings reveal that Ontario colleges perform better than most Canadian institutions when it comes to responding to inquiries from prospective international students.

A staggering 63% of Ontario colleges achieved scores above the global average in the Enquiry Experience Tracker 2023, far surpassing the 33% observed in the rest of Canada. This achievement underscores true commitment to delivering a world-class educational experience right from the initial inquiry.

The study also uncovered that Ontario colleges stand out as the most reliable and swift responders across Canada. An impressive 90% of inquiries directed at Ontario colleges received a response, whereas counterparts in British Columbia responded only 62% of the time. What's more, an astonishing 60% of responses from Ontario colleges were provided within a best practice timeframe, setting a high bar for the rest of the country.

The global findings of the Enquiry Experience Tracker 2023, published earlier this month in a summary report by Edified, highlight the scale of lost enrolment opportunities for universities around the world.

The research included 128 institutions worldwide including  more than one third of higher education providers in Canada’s British Columbia and Ontario provinces. Eight Ontario colleges participated in the research: Algonquin College, Humber College, Fanshawe College, Conestoga College, Durham College, Seneca College, Niagara College and George Brown College, The sample also included approximately one third of all UK universities and more than half of Australian and New Zealand universities.

The research included 8 Ontario colleges

Edified’s Enquiry Experience Tracker is an annual study developed in partnership with student conversion specialists UniQuest. It sees mystery shoppers pose as prospective domestic and international students, and place enquiries with institutions via multiple channels. They assess the enquiry experience against a range of criteria, including responsiveness, relevance, personalisation and impact.

The results reveal that poor enquiry experiences deter prospective students. Around 40% of institutions evaluated in the study received negative ratings from half or more mystery shoppers due to bad service. When students had a negative experience, 93% went on to say they would not engage further with that institution.

This study serves as a wake-up call for Canadian institutions to better understand the services being offered to prospective students. By enhancing the prospective student experience, universities and colleges can better compete in the fiercely competitive global education market.

Fanshawe College in Canada was acknowledged as the ‘most improved’ institution worldwide, having almost doubled their 2022 score.

Commenting on the results, Elissa Newall, Partner at Edified and Project Director of the Enquiry Experience Tracker, says:

“Students really do have high expectations. They expect prompt and personal service through the channel of their choice. You really only get one chance to make a good first impression.”
“One of the reasons this mystery shopping research is so valuable is because it shines a spotlight on areas that might be forgotten or out of view. It prompts institutions to start looking into different channels and having conversations about their enquiry processes and content. The EET is now in its third year, and it’s fascinating to track institutions’ progress over time and see who is bedding down meaningful improvements year-on-year.”
“I have been particularly impressed by the way groups of institutions, such as the New Zealand Universities and Ontario colleges have come together to benchmark against each other, as well as global peers, in an effort to improve.”

Rachel Fletcher, co-founder and CEO of UniQuest, adds:

“Prospective students are walking away from institutions if they’re not satisfied with the level of responsiveness. On the other hand, our data shows that those who have a good enquiry experience with reciprocal engagement from the institution are three times more likely to convert to enrolment. As the recruitment landscape becomes ever more competitive, those institutions who invest in improving the enquiry experience will reap the reward.”

Wendy Curtis, Dean, International at Fanshawe College, says:

“We are remarkably proud of our diverse teams’ commitment to deliver an exceptional level of customer service to our student enquiries. The Enquiry Experience Tracker is a unique opportunity for us to benchmark our enquiry services with other institutions globally. This award is a testament to our teams’ concentrated effort this past year to streamline communications and respond quickly to all enquiries. Our student ambassador, recruitment, digital communications, admissions, student life and advising, transition and engagement, and customer service teams have all united to raise the bar on coordinated and personalised responses to potential international students at Fanshawe College.”

A full list of the Enquiry Experience tracker award winners can be viewed here.

Download the report, to see the full results along with global and regional benchmarks.

Registrations for the 2024 Enquiry Experience Tracker will open in November, for universities and higher education providers globally.

Get the 2021 Enquiry Experience Tracker Report

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