Representatives from 9 THE-ICE member institutions across 6 countries joined THE-ICE Webinar Series 17: Engaging with Alumni to discuss the challenges that institutions face with maintaining meaningful connections with past students.
On Wednesday 18th May 2022 Dr Craig Thompson, CEO of THE-ICE, and Ms Amanda Wolffenbuttel, Marketing & Community Engagement Manager at Hosco, highlighted the importance of engaging with alumni, demonstrated how the Hosco platform is one solution for this challenge, and announced a new THE-ICE member benefit: Hosco & THE-ICE Alumni Survey.
Through the presentations and discussion, three key themes emerged:
- The benefits of engaging with alumni
- Utilising the Hosco platform for long term engagement with alumni
- Future growth through data collection and the Hosco & THE-ICE Alumni Survey
The benefits of engaging with alumni
- Alumni bring a different perspective to the quality of the institution, through a reflective lens that is difficult to obtain elsewhere.
- This perspective can identify crucial elements of the education process and highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the program being studied.
- Gaining the alumni perspective will ensure that these institutions are successfully delivering quality education, experiences, opportunities, and skills to their students.
- Benefits of engaging with alumni include:
- A link within the industry, often providing placement and internship opportunities for upcoming graduates
- Guest lecturers and industry visit presentations
- Base for corporate relations with an industry partner
- Opportunity for alumni to sit on advisory boards, providing perspectives from both sides
- Sponsorship of facilities, or value-in-kind sponsorship for development
- However, it has been found that most institutions globally have not been successful in maintaining a meaningful relationship with their alumni, therefore not reaping all the benefits alumni offer.
Utilising the Hosco platform for long term engagement with alumni
- Hosco is the leading global network dedicated to the hospitality industry and the platform consists of students, recruiters, and institutions.
- When communicating with alumni either through emails, social media, or other means, it is crucial that you build trust and show your genuine appreciation for their engagement. The relationship you want to form must be beneficial for both sides, and the alumni need to be aware of this.
- Communication and social media content should be diversified to reach and appeal to the different segments of alumni, for example: graduated less than 1 year ago, less than 5 years, more than 10 years.
- Ensuring that the profile of your institution is active and up to date will encourage alumni to do the same with their profile.
- Hosting events, either in person (networking, panels) or online (webinars, discussions) is essential for bringing past students together and reinforcing their value to the alumni community.
- Hosco promote success stories of alumni, as they have found this is very motivating for younger generations to continue to use the platform.
Future growth through data collection and the Hosco & THE-ICE Alumni Survey
- Hosco and THE-ICE have worked together to create an Alumni Survey for THE-ICE member institutions.
- Successful engagement between institutions and their past students will result in alumni understanding the importance of contributing to the community. In turn, alumni will be willing to update their profiles and take part in the Alumni Survey.
- The collected profile data and Alumni Survey results will be included in THE-ICE end of year reports, as a way of supporting THE-ICE member institutions on their quality enhancement journey.
- Building a strong relationship with your alumni is a long-term project that cannot be successful with only money and resources. It comes down to strategy, and planning methods to make positive connections with students throughout their program experience.
A representative from the Dubai College of Tourism (DCT) spoke about their experience with alumni engagement, and the reasons why their institution has been successful in this area.
- DCT does very well in assisting their students with placements and inviting guest presenters from the industry.
- A smaller alumni community has made it easier to stay in touch with past students, keep up to date on their experiences, and invite them back as guest lecturers.
- DCT have a strong focus on career preparation from the first year of study. They help students create an online presence on platforms such as LinkedIn and encourage culinary arts students to showcase their talent on Instagram.
The recording of the webinar can be accessed here.