Anyone who registered at TU/e for next academic year via Studielink will receive a phone call in the coming period, starting with those who live outside the European Union and still haven’t decided whether they actually want to study in Eindhoven. “The aim is not to convince them,” says Maarten van den Dungen, team leader education at TU/e’s Communications Expertise Center, “but to help them make a choice. Are there things that remain unclear, do they have any questions about TU/e or Eindhoven, or the Netherlands? We will also call students in Europe, but there is some urgency with non-European students because they need to apply for a visa.” The deadline for registration is set at 19 June for this group – until further notice; nothing is impossible in times of corona.
It’s not an easy assignment, three thousand internationals registered for a Master’s program and eight hundred for a Bachelor’s program. “A significant number will drop out, because they don’t meet the requirements or because their applications are incomplete, but we’ll probably end up will two thousand phone numbers. Everyone will receive an email in advance informing them that TU/e will phone them, and a second attempt will be made when people don’t answer.”
Communication between students
The calls will be made by people who are trained in information and recruitment activities. TU/e has a central group of sixty students at its disposal for this purpose, and each department has its own advisors. Van den Dungen estimates that some two hundred students can be deployed, twenty or thirty at a time. “We prefer student callers to staff members because students speak the same language and understand each other’s situation.” Organizing everything is quite a task, just think of the time differences. “We try not to wake anyone up with our phone calls,” Van den Dungen assures. Questions that can’t be directly answered will be written down and answered at a later stage.
The university will also seek contact with internationals who have already payed their tuition fees. Van den Dungen: “This shows that it’s not about recruitment. Our goal is to provide some certainty in uncertain times.”
Another way in which TU/e tries to show its warm touch, is by seeking contact with parents of prospective students. “We will hold three webinars during which parents can ask questions after a presentation. The first session – for Dutch parents – was very successful. MS Teams can take 250 people, and it didn’t take long before we reached that number. That is why we will hold a second one. In addition, we held an English-speaking webinar.”
It’s certainly useful, and sometimes funny as well, Van den Dungen noticed. “Because it says on our website that we work with mums and dads during the Intro, some of the parents asked us whether they could play a role.”
Giving advice about renting or not renting a student room is difficult at this moment. “We too don’t know with any certainty how the university will organize its education in September. But we explain what blending learning can look like and that it’s possible that students will be expected to be present on campus this calendar year. We even expect that teaching activities will take place on campus; we just don’t know in what proportion.”
The mailing cycle to students who registered via Studielink provided by the CEC in collaboration with ESA contains information about broader issues. A new message appears every two weeks. “We did that in previous years as well, but we’re extra empathetic this year. What does it mean to start in Eindhoven as a student in these times? We hope to show our involvement to the students.” A mail has been sent to listening line Hearme as well. “An invitation to prospective students to contact us, if they wish to do so.”