Alana Kaye College in the Northern Territories and the Engineering Institute of Technology in Western Australia met these challenges head on. Three factors brought success and helped them grow: technology, resilience and a big dose of creative thinking.
23 Feb 2021
Adapting the campus experience
Alana Kaye College was founded by Alana Anderson in 2011. It offers a suite of nationally recognised courses including Community Services, Early Childhood Education and Care, Leadership and Management, and Project Management. Today it delivers nationally recognised courses to students from more than 40 countries.
When the pandemic hit and travel halted, the college needed to act fast. Neither trainers nor students could attend the campus. International student numbers dropped. Staff members couldn’t even travel to promote the college.
This forced Alana Kaye College to completely rethink its campus environment and how it delivered courses. And it needed to do this while protecting students and staff and keeping its doors open.
Practical steps to aid international students
The college immediately put all learning materials online, so students could study while in lockdown. Then Alana Kaye College implemented a series of policies that focussed on the needs of its staff and students. This involved:
making it possible for trainers to teach online from home, which kept them employed
changing the scope of registration to allow international students who were not able to return home to continue studying at the college
setting up payment plans for international students who lost their jobs during lockdown
changing student timetables and breaking classes into smaller groups to safely enable the resumption of face-to-face classes
providing students with mental health support
providing food for students while on campus
Planning for a bright future
With an eye to the future, Alana and her team quickly changed their marketing approach. They focused more on attracting onshore international students. They also used social media to market overseas, and worked with a marketing officer in the Philippines. This means there will be international students ready to enrol once borders reopen.
The college is also working closely with education agents locally and overseas to attract more students. This will help Alana Kaye College continue to grow as restrictions ease.
“We are very proud of our continued growth during this time, and this is partially due to our positive attitude,” says Alana. “It is also a result of listening to our student and client needs, and working with our networks to continue marketing our college as a provider of choice.”
Growth in the face of adversity
In Western Australia, the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) faced similar challenges. When COVID-19 struck, EIT had to cancel its conferences, halt onsite training and reimburse fees. Enrolments of international students dwindled at two campuses. Some staff members suddenly faced uncertainty as their work dried up.
EIT quickly transitioned all its training to its online learning platform. This provides live, interactive webinar sessions and virtual laboratories connected to real equipment. EIT also awarded scholarships to students who lost income due to the pandemic.
“We decided to think creatively, work harder and forge ahead,” says Dr Steve Mackay, EIT’s Dean of Engineering.
To keep student numbers strong, the marketing team delivered sensitive, country-centric campaigns. As a result, student numbers have grown significantly and EIT now has students in more than 150 countries.
Lateral thinking leads to new opportunities
Out of all the uncertainty, EIT identified new opportunities. With so many education providers scrambling to go online, EIT realised that its in-house, tried-and-test invigilation software had commercial potential.
The institute has now signed contracts with several education providers, including South Africa’s largest university, UNISA. This has created a new source of income and allowed EIT to redeploy some existing staff.
The institute is also preparing its engineering labs for commercial use, which it hopes will generate extra income.
Despite the many disruptions caused by COVID-19, EIT has expanded its course offerings, reached more students globally and redeployed staff. It has even recruited new employees, thanks to the additional sources of income.
“We remain agile, driven and passionate,” says Steve. “This enables us to embrace new opportunities and look to the future.”
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