Next week more than 200 people will gather in London for Hobsons University EMEA. This annual event has once again proved unbelievably popular and for the first time we’ve had to close registration early!
For the last five years, I’ve been in the lucky position to see the conference grow and evolve. What makes this event unique and what makes people want to attend year on year? In my view there are three stand-out reasons.
First, our client community. We will have universities from all over the EMEA region and 50 from the UK alone. It’s true that we’ve seen growth in our overall client numbers but there is something more significant going on. Our clients are becoming more innovative, not only in the way that they use our products but also in the strategies they deploy to connect with prospective students and to help them be successful. They also seem to be more willing to share best practice with the Hobsons community.
Last year, one client summed it up by saying that whilst they may be in competition with at least four other universities in the room, they recognise that as part of the Hobsons client community, they have one thing in common: they all share a passion for helping students find the best fit university. The annual conference, other smaller Hobsons group meetings, and Compass (our online client community) were the catalysts for collaboration that they simply cannot get elsewhere.
Each year, I ask our clients who and what they want to hear at the conference and then work toward achieving what they desire. This year, we will try to address three key questions:
- How will the government proposals for higher education affect UK universities?
- What product enhancements can clients expect from Hobsons?
- How can I be inspired to think differently about my role and how I can help more students start their path toward success?
I am delighted that the Hobsons University programme has not only a host of Hobsons experts but also some brilliant speakers who I know will cover all these questions. In the plenary we’ll have Professor Les Ebdon, the director of fair access to higher education, and Eric Stoller, an education consultant, thought leader, and blogger for Inside Higher Ed.
In our record number of breakout sessions we’ll have product updates and previews and best practice sessions delivered by clients. There really is something for everyone!
Responding to Market Changes
Over the last five years, I’ve seen significant changes to both the sophistication of what our clients are doing with our products to big changes in our own product offerings.
Five years ago the conference agenda addressed what might happen if the student became more of a consumer – would marketing, admissions, and recruitment staff become more important in the institution? How times have changed, particularly in the UK. The answer is a resounding yes. Students are now at the heart of the system and the government is advocating much more student choice and engagement. Sessions like predictive analytics and using social media to engage, listen to, and influence prospects show just how rapidly our clients have changed their approach, and how the conversation in now expanding to how we can support students once they are enroled so they can achieve success.
Hobsons has supported our clients through these changes. Two years ago we announced Radius by Hobsons, our new approach to CRM, and since then, nearly a third of our client base has implemented or are in the process of migrating to Radius.
This year we are proud to introduce a new advising product as we encourage the community to move from an admissions to an advising mindset. We are planning a roundtable for 35 professional services colleagues to examine how Starfish by Hobsons, a tool used by nearly 300 universities and colleges, can support student success and retention initiatives. And, on the admissions front, we are offering all EMEA clients an exclusive opportunity to take part in a pilot of ActiveMatch Plus, a new way to engage and recruit international and US students.
Thank you to all our Hobsons staff, our speakers, our sponsors and exhibitors and most of all our clients. You all have made what Hobsons University is today, and I am looking forward to seeing you all next week.