Dubai schools complacent in handling admissions inquiries - reportApril 18, 2017, 1:55 pm GMT
Most school admissions teams are complacent in handling inquiries from prospective families, a report issued by the Education Intelligence Group (EIg) states.
EIG's findings are based on it sending a group of mystery shoppers to Dubai's premium schools. During the month of March, six mystery shoppers surveyed 18 Dubai schools - the majority of which offer the British curriculum, and some American schools. The schools shared one thing in common: all of their fees started at AED40,000 or higher for FS1.
The report states that over half the mystery shoppers thought that schools did not focus on their individual needs when they made enquiries to register their children for the school.
Additionally, over two thirds (67%) of the mystery shoppers would not recommend the schools to friends, based on their experience of enquiring and interacting with the staff within the schools.
The results of the report highlight the good, the bad and the unexpected for parents in Dubai when they undertake the school selection process. The mystery shoppers were employed to review the school websites, social media channels, the quality of the telephone interactions and school tours and appointments.
The report draws attention to the quality of customer service provided by schools to prospective parents looking to register their children. One of the mystery shopper's commented "The registrar was informative but never asked for my contact details" whilst another claimed "I spoke to admissions directly and none of my questions were answered and I was told to check the website."
EIG director Shaun Robison said the report was a "timely reminder that the education sector needs to review its admission processes and its approach to prospective parents as the market is too competitive to accept complacency."
Commenting on the process, Robison told Education Journal Middle East: "We tested every aspect of the admissions funnel from the quality of the schools' websites - we reviewed their page speed, compatibility, social scores, code quality, content etc. We then called the schools and the mystery shoppers used a weighted matrix to assess the schools and the registrars. This ranged from the schools' telephone navigation systems to the responsiveness of the registrars to the handling of data. The mystery shoppers then visited the schools and again, they used a weighted matrix to judge everything from parking and arrivals, the receptionist, the persuasiveness of the education message, the hospitality experience and much more.
"In short, the established schools are most at risk of losing prospective parents, and some of the new schools are doing exceptionally well on digital design and marketing, customer service and flexibility and responsiveness with parents."
School marketing budgets in the UAE have doubled in the past year. In 2016, schools in the UAE spent $14,648,627 on advertising - excluding digital spending - which means this number would exceed $20,000,000 after all mediums are accounted for.
Additionally, schools have attempted to incentivise parents with free uniforms and extra-curricular activities. Incidental discounts are becoming more frequent and parents are exercising their bargaining power with school admissions offices.
Interestingly, the report shows that new schools fared much better in the survey compared to the most established schools. In some cases, the educational messages were rated exceptional and very convincing.
Two of the highest performing schools in the survey were new schools and the next two have been open for less than five years.
Describing her experience at one of the highly rated schools, one of the mystery shoppers commented: "The registrar was very helpful, very knowledgeable and arranged a personalised tour. She took my contact details straight away".
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