HelloUni’s Welcoming Association app launch and whats next

On the 22nd, this Wednesday in partnership with the Welcoming Association, in Edinburgh, we throw a launch party and letting the world be aware that HelloUni powered Welcoming association app is available for downloading across the app stores. It was a release that ticked all the boxes of a tech start-up modern product launch: last minute bug-finding and fixing, frazzled back-enders, frizzled front-enders, sustained on takeaway food, working through the weekend and having team meeting at Starbucks. The debates of regarding the best and most efficient way of finding and fixing bugs, and with risking to postpone the product launch, we finally as a team realised that the app development does not stop at the launch day, it is a  multi-step, multi-variate process. As one can tell from the group photo, everyone who was at the launch party did enjoy the product and thought it was worth the trip.

Given, we know there are bugs in the app, you would be forgiven for asking whether the launch party was a success. The short answer is yes, we think so. We are a start-up and despite having limited resources and being under a lot of pressure, we still delivered and released the app on time within the original time-schedule. This goal being met is not achieved by many start-ups. We also wanted to get an idea as to how people might use the HelloUni Welcoming app, and for that we needed more people to sign up.

 Photography: Giulia Martini

We had just over 60 people showed up at the event day and over 25 were the members of the charity, the feedback so far is positive as they loved the simplicity of the design as well as the practicality of the software. There was also broad agreement in terms of what the most requested features are:

  • timetables to check in to see who else are also attending the same session;
  • connect feature allows users to exchange contents and information without prior friendships or relationships in a hyper-local context
  • checklist to better prepare to settle down in the country.

Apart from the end users, we also have had representatives from education establishments, Scottish Enterprise and Royal Society of Edinburgh. From the universities we have had Alan Monteith, Senior Recruitment Marketing Officer (Recruitment and International Office) at the University of Glasgow; Anna Morgan, Head of the International Pathway Centre at the University of West of Scotland and Andrew Campbell, International Development Manager from Forth Valley College. We have had Martin Togneri who was the founding Chief Executive of Scottish Development International and former Dean of the Business School at Glasgow Caledonian University to give the keynote speech as well as convening the panel discussion. The panel gave a very enthusiastic response and covered a broad range of subjects: from their offerings to the migrants and international students, to why they should be choosing one particular university, to career prospect after the degree as well as the financial supports that are available to international students.

The funding bodies behind HelloUni and who makes it possible for us to offer the app free of charge to the users at the Welcoming Association were also presented at the event. Gavin Laird from Scottish Enterprise and Anne Fraser and Colleen Tait from the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Check out more event photos,

What’s coming up

We are happy to announce that the app is now available to download in iOS app store, however, on the iOS it’s an older version, so our recommendation is for users to download the android version:https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ionicframework.welcomingnew262842

We are continuously working on the debugging and making sure the user experience is as smooth as possible and will be updating the iOS version of the app in the next coming week. Keep an eye on us!

Engaging with your applicants on a mobile application is the most efficient way forward

If you are reading this blog as someone who works in the student recruitment and engagement office within an education establishment, you would understand the challenges involved in capturing young applicants’ attentions, increasing their interest to your establishment; eventually persuading them to become registered students. Furthermore, once they graduate they would become a good ambassador for the university and help you to promote the brand and spread the love to the university around the globe!

A recent technology news published on Business Insider (link) shows that having your institute’s website poorly optimized for mobile devices can reduce your ranking in an online search result, lowering the amount of exposure it has. I have talked to many universities and many of them claimed that they already have a mobile-friendly website, usually through simple editing via HTML5-based programming tools, but are these mobile-friendly website appropriate for international applicants? Problems related to mobile-friendly websites are:

  • A need to show the content that website visitors want to see – If proper scrutiny is not performed and the wrong content is displayed, mobile device users may be unsatisfied and have a poor experience.
  • Optimising web content for all devices and screen sizes – There are so many different devices on the market that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, so a simple conversion of a website via HTML5 editing wouldn’t be the right size for all screens etc.
  • Consistency of web content on different devices -If a visitor can find one piece of information on a desktop, but can’t locate it again when they return on their mobile device, they are likely to be unsure of what services your establishment offers.
  • Requires separate maintenance – Content needs to be updated and managed twice over. This is generally the responsibility of your web agency, but it’s definitely worth bearing in mind when the time comes to update offers, etc.

According to our market research conducted on a sample size of 200 international students, the primary reason for applicants for not choosing a particular university is a low level of emotional commitment. While international students share some commonalities with UK-based students in the methods they use to choose between universities, they also exhibit different attitudes and behaviours. These differences arise because they (and their families who are often important influencers of the eventual decision for both financial and emotional reasons) have more complex information and support needs arising from their unfamiliarity with cultural, social, educational and other aspects of the locations they are considering. There are, however, ways to create and increase the emotional connection international applicants feel for the universities they are applying to. One of the solutions is to engage with applicants in a way that feels culturally appropriate to the ethnic group from which the applicant comes, as well as providing a fun and personally engaging means of outreach.

This Z generation of young people (age between 18-25) being so dependent on mobile-devices exhibit behaviour such as preferring virtual communication, searching for information rather than being told of what to do, etc. Their attentions are hard to catch through conventional ways such as prospectuses or a website which does not optimised for mobile usage; research has shown that people who are age between 18-24 spend on average 75 hours on apps per month, and 56% of them have used mobile devices when doing research about universities and courses information. In view of such statistics, it seems that the best way to attract international students for educational establishments would be through websites optimised for access through mobile devices, a conclusion supported by Euromonitor International in 2013.

It is my company’s belief that a mobile-driven solution is the way forward in fostering a greater commitment from the applicants to a university. Engagement with their educational institution on a mobile device is consistent with the “on-the-move” lifestyle of this generation of applicants. Research has done to show that the whole experience of being engaged in an instant manner by push notifications triggers the production of dopamine (Krista Peck in “The Role of Dopamine in Internet Craving”). In addition, this product can be utilised on existing students with some modification, e.g. It can be used for home students to prevent drop out.

Hence our decision to develop HelloUni as a means of addressing prospective international students’ information needs via a cross-platform app which they can use on their Android, iOS or Windows smartphones or tablets.

Some extra perks of studying in the UK

Studying in Scotland can be quite affordable, in the previous article we have already talked about the financial support available to students. Apart from the study and the experience of campus life, being a student can actually offer you much more. Here is a list of some of the practical advantages of being a student in the UK.

– Discount on housing: Council tax discount or exemption

Council tax is a local property tax that is used to fund some services provided by your local council. Generally speaking everyone should pay council tax. Council tax, on average can be around £100 each month for a two bedroom property however if everyone living in the property is a full-time student the property becomes exempt and you do not have to pay. If you live with non-students you still get a 25% discount.

– Discount on travelling

Want to travel around the UK while studying? No problem. Full-time students can get a 16-25 Railcard even if aged above 25. 16-25 Railcard offers 1/3 off on most train tickets in the UK. Students can also get discount on local travelling i.e. bus card.

– Many other discounts

As you are probably aware, there are many other discounts for students available on shopping, cinema, museums and admission to events. Most digital brands offer generous discounts to students in the UK for example Apple generally offer around 15% discount on their products. So your student ID could possibly save you £100 to £200 when you buy Apple products.

– Free student support

Most universities and colleges in Scotland offer free language support and career advice services to their students. Although many students may not be aware of them, these student services can add a great deal of value to studying itself.

International students can improve their English skills through free writing or speaking workshops. Before applying for a job, students can get their CV polished by an experienced career advisor and some universities also offer entrepreneurship workshops to help their students start their own businesses.

Of course, the range of services available to students varies from institution to institution, so take that into consideration before you decide which university or college you wish to study at.


– Medical and mental health support

Overseas students can register for health services and dental care. In today’s society the mental health of students has become more of a concern so thanks to these services you might also find yourself well supported when you most need it.


Research has shown that applicants on average apply between 5-6 universities at once, that is just in one country. Applicants can lose interest during any stage of the application journey. To foster and maintain the connections with applicants, especially those come from outside of EU, universities need to distinguish itself from other competitors by strategically sending and presenting contents and information in a way that are emotionally and rationally appealing to international applicants.

Enter HelloUni, our current software provided as a service to universities clients:

helloUni supports

HelloUni is a cross platform mobile application that can be easily customised and integrated into universities’ current international student recruitment marketing and promotion packages. Because the application is built with web-based technology, it can be customised to complement the universities‘ existing websites. Leveraging the attractive functionalities of a cross-platform mobile application, HelloUni can positively impact the universities’ overall recruitment and engagement with international students. Utilising a proprietary data-driven process, HelloUni allows universities to attract the right calibre of applicants and improve the prospect experience, to help convert enquirers into applicants and applicants into registered students.

Here is a demo of the product:

Information to get you started on your application to universities and colleges in Scotland

The benefits of obtaining further and higher education

If you are a migrant from with the EU and are looking to improve your career prospects in Scotland, getting an extra qualification by going to a university or a college is a good option. The most obvious benefit is that further education in Scotland is free of tuition fees, unlike in England, where applicants within the E.U. can pay up to £9000, and applicants outside the E.U. can pay up to £17,000.

A summary of benefits of getting a higher qualification (according to research):

  • Greater opportunities in the UK & abroad for both employment and academia.
  • Having a degree will often result in a better pay as you are better qualified for a larger job market.
  • Bodies exist to help support living costs of students, e.g. the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).
  • Research shows that parents who attained a degree from a university institution benefited their child or children’s development in early life.

Higher and Further Education in Scotland

There are 15 universities in Scotland, with four out these ranked in the Times Higher Education Top 200. There are 20 colleges in Scotland; these colleges offer vocational training such as diplomas for people over the age of sixteen. These bodies of higher and further education will supply the qualifying education most suitable for your individual circumstances and career direction.

Some good introductory websites for why you should study in Scotland:

It is worthwhile to understand the differences between higher and further education. The type of qualification also affects the duration of learning and financial supports you will be able to apply. These websites should help you understand what each type of education grants what qualifications.

Further education

Further education means courses taken at college, excluding degree level courses. Further education tends to be more work-focused (vocational) and is usually fully funded.

Further education includes:

National Qualifications

City and Guilds vocational courses

Access courses


Higher education

Higher education is degree level education and can be taken at university or college. Most degrees in Scotland take four years to complete and can be vocational, non-vocational or a mixture of the two.

Higher education includes:


Higher National Certificates (HNCs)

Higher National Diplomas (HNDs)

Postgraduate courses such as PhDs

Note: you could choose to start off doing a FE access course at a local college and later on move on to HE to study a degree so these two are not in conflict.


UCAS also has produced a guide for further and higher education institutions comparing school level international qualifications to UK equivalents and provides a guide to the marking schemes for certain countries.

Step three: Getting started

Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) http://scqf.org.uk/

For funding and admission purpose, it is important that you get yourself familiar with the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). This is the national credit transfer system for all levels of qualifications in Scotland. It is used to assess and decide how many your previous learning qualifications can be transferred into the universities and colleges in Scotland. When you [are] looking for jobs or applying for further education, this framework will be used to calculate your level. The aim is to make it easier for employers and education institutions to understand the level to which an applicant had been educated. A secondary aim is to remove prejudice against vocational and non-traditional qualifications.

Other sources related to SCQF are:

UK National Academic Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC) http://www.naric.org.uk/naric/

[This] is the National Agency responsible for providing information and advice on worldwide qualifications. Comparisons cannot be made on how grades for the international qualification will compare to its UK counterpart, meaning that UCAS points will not be given. Official comparisons by UK NARIC will incur a charge; however they do have an advice line for students with simple queries.

Equivalent European qualification Framework (EQF)


For European qualifications, you can compare between EU countries through the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). This provides an overview of what the equivalent qualification is within the UK, although does not provide information on the grading system. European Qualifications Framework

Process for applying to college or university

Application process

Check out HelloUni.mobi to interact with peers to get real insights about living and studying in the universities that you wish to apply for.

Funding and scholarships

If you are serious of going ahead to apply for a further qualification, then the next step is to sort out your finances! Whatever your age, abilities or family responsibilities, there are a number of financial supports available to you. Funding can come as a grant or a loan or, in some circumstances, as free course fees. Your income will be assessed to see what you are entitled to and there is different support depending on the type of course you want to do. Here is a list of websites that can help you find what level of support you are entitled to.