Reviews have become integral to the consumer experience in the digital age. We go to them for help, advice, and to hear people talk about their real experiences of a product, service, or company.
Websites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Trustpilot, and Google My Business are now some of the first places that consumers go before buying from a company. In fact, 93% of consumers say that online reviews influence their decisions to purchase or not to purchase.
But it’s not just companies that can benefit from reviews—universities and other institutions of education can, too.
In fact, one industry report conducted among 32,000 students found that prospective students are now more likely to consider peer reviews than rankings when making a decision on where to study.
With student reviews becoming a key factor in prospective student decision-making, we’ve investigated just how and why student reviews provide value to universities.
The Importance of Student Reviews
Choosing where, and what, to study is a huge decision and one that could affect the rest of the student’s life. In this situation, it’s natural that they might look to other reviews before choosing a university or course.
In this situation, reviews can massively affect the experience that a student has with your university before they’ve even applied. In particular, they can offer insight into the unique experience of a university that other portals—a university fair, website, or department tour—can’t.
An authentic review written by a former student will give future students peace of mind. They will know exactly what to expect from your institution and their chosen course, and can better prepare for their time at university.
Better prepared students make for better learners, and having some of their worries or fears alleviated before arriving will put them in better stead for the learning experience.
Why Even Negative Reviews Offer Value
As review writing becomes an important part of the customer life cycle—with people even being urged to write a review after their interaction with a company—companies are also at risk of receiving negative reviews.
Fortunately, negative reviews aren’t always bad. They can often serve to further highlight positive experiences, as well as ensure prospective students opt for the right program, department, or institution for them.
Additionally, a negative review can be an opportunity for schools to engage with students. Responding to graduates who left negative reviews can be a way to provide solutions, or just to offer support or assistance.
Negative reviews are also a way to ensure that you’re learning from students. Feedback can inform all areas of the university experience, ensuring you know where to provide more support to students.
Not only will responding hopefully make the alum’s experience of your university better, but it will also show prospective students that you take feedback on board and are actively working to improve the university experience for everyone.
How Universities Can Use Authentic Student Reviews
While most universities will be familiar with utilising internal student ratings of degrees, departments, and modules, you may not know how to make use of external student reviews.
We know that student reviews are becoming a more important tool in the decision-making process of prospective students, but we also know that their use is not likely to wane anytime soon—so learning how to create value out of them is going to be key.
First of all, student and graduate reviews on external sites shouldn’t replace internal evaluations. However, they can provide an additional level of feedback, and report on things that internal teaching surveys won’t, such as accommodation or student life.
In comparison to years past, management at universities are now realising that university strategy should not be isolated from the students themselves but informed, in part, by them.
Universities that consider all aspects of the student experience—and use authentic student reviews to do this—will ensure their institutions successfully adapt for the long term.
Conclusion about The Importance of Student Reviews
It should be clear now that student reviews, good or bad, are an important part of a universities marketing arsenal.
As more consumers turn to reviews in order to make more informed purchasing decisions, students will also increasingly look to previous students to make their final decision.
Students who review on the EDUopinions platform are asked to rate their university experience in nine different areas: facilities, professors, location, student life, accommodation, internationality, value, career prospects and their overall rating.
This offers prospective students a broad overview of the experience of the university in question, allowing them to make a more informed decision depending on their unique background and desires.
In order to verify all reviews and ensure that they are authentic, students who wish to post a review on EDUopinions must first login via their LinkedIn or Facebook account, or use a valid email address.
Afterwards, an algorithm detects if the reviewer is a legitimate student or graduate of that particular university. If the algorithm is unable to do this, then the reviewer will be asked to send proof of studies to EDUopinions.
So far, EDUopinions has received over 26,000 student reviews. Of that number, almost 5,000 were rejected for not passing the verification procedure. Contact EDUopinions and find out how to get verified student reviews for your institution.
Editor’s note: This article was first published on the 24th of August 2021. We’ve updated it for current readers.