Cara Lambregts

Connecting with a new generation of students

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Generation Z has entered the higher education field and it is time to learn how to connect with this new student demographic and adapt to meet their needs and expectations. Here are our top tips to connect with this younger generation.  

Connect with their strong values 

Generation Z has been raised in times when the political and environmental climates have been challenging and unstable. Because of this, they value, above all else, authenticity, honesty and sustainability. They believe in giving back to their community and helping their world develop in a more sustainable way.  

“Climate change, global warming, and sea level rise, these are all things that we have learned about.” –Cameron Steyn, Sustainability student from South Africa 

Show this knowledgeable generation that there are opportunities to demonstrate their values inside and outside of the classroom. Highlight how you, as an institution, give back to your community. This generation would be interested in subjects such as sustainability projects (like solar panels, recycling, etc.) or community outreach programmes. 

Connect  digitally with your new audience 

This new generation of students has grown and developed in the era of technology and social media. Because of this, one of the best ways to reach your desired audience is through this medium. After experiencing the Covid pandemic, it has become even more apparent how this generation engages through the technology that surrounds them.  

Your social media presence can now make or break enrolment decisions for potential students. With likes, follows and comments as the new way to rate those around us, it is key to show your potential students that their peers recommend their experience to others. Take the time to work on your social media presence by highlighting current students and their experiences, activities students can participate in in your school, news updates on how applications can be submitted and deadlines for potential students. These steps alone can already give potential applicants an idea of what they can expect on campus and whether it is an environment that they wish to study in.  

Flexibility is a factor that many students now include in their list of requirements, and there is a simple way to accommodate this. Offer courses that can be enjoyed completely digitally, offering students the ability to be flexible in their study choices. Many students came out of the pandemic with a desire to experience theoretical classes in the comfort of their own environment but be present for more practical lessons. Flexibility and personalisation are key themes for Generation Z. 

Create programmes that are relevant to their interests 

In a recent report, Studyportals was able to highlight the up-and-coming study areasthat are of interest to this younger audience. After gathering data from millions of students and comparing this against hundreds of thousands of programmes, we were able to determine that subject areas related to Data Science & Technology, International Careers, Sustainability, and Post Pandemic careers were those that students wanted to participate in. This includes degree programmes such as Human Computer Interaction, Supply Chain Management & Logistics, European law, and Event Management.  

These different courses all symbolise different values and aspect of the life of the new generation of student. One big theme for students is the value of an International aspect to their education. Whether this be in international business dealings or in the ways we interact with other cultures, this generation has a desire to ensure that our thoughts represent the whole of our communities. 

“I saw European law plays a really big part in how our world as the global community works. – All countries around the world try to fit in, like they look up to Europe. How do they manage to create a law that also fits for our communities.” – Reynaldy Saputra Ginting, European Law Student from Indonesia  

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had a devastating impact on the social behaviour of this generation. Many social moments that help define a healthy lifestyle were taken away due to safety regulations that were put in place to protect ourselves. Now that these measures have been lifted, many students want to experience activities that can make up for the years that have been lost. Some students who have experienced these events are even taking it upon themselves to give these experiences back to those around them: 

“I do have an active leisure life, and I love going to events…so I thought, hey, I really love this industry. I’ve never thought about it before but it would be really fun to make a living off of creating fun times for other people.” – Rebecca Hermanns, Event Management student from Brazil & Germany

 

Generation Z has been impacted by many significant events in their lives, from recessions to global warming to global pandemics. It is no wonder that these events have made such a lasting impact on their future choices of how they wish to evolve and grow in their careers.  

Connecting with this new younger audience does not have to be difficult, and as we focus on how to maintain the relationship between Higher Education institutions and this rising generation, there are some key principles to follow.  

Remain authentic and honest about your school. Show this new generation that you care about the future that is waiting for them and you will help give them the skills to succeed in it. Respect the way that they communicate and use it to your advantage by showcasing the unique factors that make your institution shine in your social media platforms. Finally, make schools accessible by including hybrid variations of programmes and include those programmes that reflect the new passions and interests of these up-and-coming students.  

Do you want to learn more about the types of programmes that will attract this younger generation?

Studyportals’ report ‘Subject areas to watch in 2023’ can give you deeper insight into steps your institution can be taking. 

Download the full report here

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