A data-driven Ed-fintech startup is connecting international universities with their prospective students and helping both save millions of dollars.
New strategies for enrollment in the post-pandemic world
As the pandemic retreats and international travel resumes, international universities are back to the drawing board. Universities spend large parts of their outreach budgets attracting the right students in terms of their academic profile, ability to pay, and ability to secure a visa for international travel. In the post-pandemic world, how do universities reach out to their target students in a savvy and data-driven manner? GradRight, an Ed-fintech startup based in India, is looking to save international universities millions of dollars in their enrollment costs by providing data-driven insights and optimized outreach and student enrollment strategies.
Traditionally, international universities have relied on casting a wide net among students from emerging economies like India and China. While such a strategy has paid dividends as the number of international students at these universities has increased multifold, the costs of attracting and enrolling the students has also scaled up dramatically. A typical university from the US, UK, or Canada, usually hires local enrollment agencies to promote their university and attract students from countries such as India. However, given the incentives and interests of these intermediaries, the matching process between the right university for the right student gets distorted. Universities, through such agencies, end up spending time and energy on students who do not have the right academic and financial profile for their programs in the first place.
The Right Selection powers the Right Financing
Enrollment agencies as an outreach solution have led to problems for students as well. Students get recommendations for courses that are not easily fundable. They are not able to secure proper funding and get visa rejections from embassies on these grounds. “50% - 60% of students who have admission offers could have found better funding if they made a better choice about their academic programs. Our data tells us that this problem is particularly acute in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Delhi”, says Aayush Nagpal, head of financial partnerships at GradRight. “Moreover, a major reason for education visa rejections for such students is also lack of credible financing. Students are often misinformed and show financial proofs without the backing
of a credible source. These proofs just don’t fly with embassies who, in our opinion, value honesty in both documentation and interviews”, says Shivani Mani, head of Student Success at GradRight. By this time, the university has already spent a considerable sum of time and money in attracting and offering an enrollment spot to such a student. All of that time and effort goes for a toss if a student is not able to secure the funding and visa to eventually enroll in the program.
Disintermediation unlocks unprecedented cost efficiencies
It is in this context that GradRight aims to disrupt the international university enrolment space by connecting international universities directly to their target students. The pandemic has only accelerated the trend towards “disintermediation” as students are increasingly searching online for unbiased advice. Platforms like GradRight generate data-driven insights that provide win-win matching solutions for both universities and students. International universities can customize their outreach strategies and efforts towards a narrow slice of students who match their target academic and financial profile. Students, who are often “undermatched” to their highest potential university, can connect with aspirational universities they may not have shortlisted as potential study destinations. GradRight does not stop at creating a match and connection between the university and the student. It also provides students assistance with funding and visa requirements such that students with admissions offers are able to enroll at their matched universities. This end-to-end solution has unlocked immense value for students, especially from second and third tier Indian cities who were often dependent on enrollment or visa agencies that provided them with limited and biased choices regarding their study abroad options. Moreover, as students find their best matched university, universities abroad save millions of dollars and time by optimizing their efforts towards the right students.
“Finding the right segment of students along the dimensions of academics and financial capacity is just the starting point. For us at GradRight, the holy grail for university enrollments is to be able to handpick students that will not only enroll, but flourish at our partner universities given their academic culture and values”, says Deepali Sinha, VP International Growth and Strategy, GradRight. Indeed, the day may not be far when universities and students are able to swipe and match, just like a dating app!
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