February 26, 2024

Сhatbots In Higher Education: Full Guide 2024

Do you wish to explore the latest trends in using chatbots for higher education institutions but don’t know where to start? Our guide offers information on chatbots higher education providers can integrate into their daily work, what they are used for, and how to choose the right one.

Written by
Serhii Uspenskyi

Educational institutions have been using chatbots to automate different processes for many years. These products answer other questions about facets of academic life without requiring live operators of faculty members. Recent developments in artificial intelligence have breathed new life into this technology.

The likes of ChatGPT and Claude demonstrate just how versatile these products are. Our article covers all the nuances of chatbots, which higher education organizations can use to benefit learners and educators, the best examples of these solutions, and how to select the right one.

Table Of Contents:

What Is A Chatbot?

These products work like personal assistants that help people get information about different subjects. In the context of higher education institutions, they answer questions concerning organizational structure and the academic process. Chatbots for higher ed offer an alternative to hiring vast support staff, as they are cheap to implement and answer questions 24/7.

By the end of 2024, the global chatbot market is expected to exceed $1 billion. Institutions such as Deakin University, Georgia State University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison use these solutions for various tasks. This integration has brought many benefits for students and institutions:

  • According to Mobile Marketer, 58% of organizations claim that chatbots improve their services.
  • Chatbots in higher education save over 30% in customer service costs.
  • In a study by Ivy.ai, 94% of students claimed that chatbots were helpful during enrollment.
  • An experiment by business school professor Emilien Nizon showed that 91% of participants reported improvements in their educational experience thanks to chatbots.
  • These solutions help reduce summer melt (acceptance without enrollment), which affects 22,8% of high school graduates.

The Purpose of Chatbots in Higher Education

Chatbots used in the learning industry have a single purpose: to make the educational process helpful and less stressful. These solutions handle most routine tasks ordinarily performed by the staff and help students during different steps of their academic journey.

One of the most common goals of chatbots at higher education organizations is to provide information. This includes details on courses, campus locations, and other data. These solutions also tutor students, offering guidance in different disciplines or pointing them toward professors who can improve their knowledge and comprehension of study materials.

Using these chatbots is indispensable when it comes to streamlining tasks at educational institutions. Colleges and universities use them to make schedules, communicate with parents, answer routine questions, and handle other mundane assignments.

This comprehensive approach towards both sides of the learning process saves time and resources while providing the necessary information instantly. Implementing a higher-ed chatbot also fosters cooperation and creativity among participants, leading to a mutually beneficial environment.

Types of Сhatbots For Higher Education Organizations

Regarding chatbots used for education, no solutions handle all tasks in a single package. Instead, there are several types of these solutions, each offering help with different functions and facets of academic life. Higher education institutions can use the following products to their advantage.

  1. Academic advice chatbots. They offer help with students' academic lives. Such chatbots explain the curriculum and aid in selecting courses, preparing for exams, and planning schedules. It's possible to use these products to offer tutoring services and study resource information.
  2. Admission and enrollment assistants. Such chatbots provide information about application deadlines, documents, criteria, and program offers. Their task is to make the admissions and enrollment process more accessible and less stressful.
  3. Campus information and navigation chatbots. This chatbot type offers information about campus facilities, activities, clubs, and events. Such solutions also aid in navigation, giving the location of lecture halls and libraries.
  4. Feedback and survey chatbots. These apps gather the opinions of staff and learners about different aspects of the processes within organizations. They conduct polls and surveys to improve the daily work of institutions.
  5. Financial aid and scholarship chatbots. The role of these solutions is to provide data on tuition fees, scholarships, and financial aid. They check if students are eligible for assistance programs, offer payment plans, and explain the application process.
  6. Library assistants chatbots. Such products help faculty and students find the right books and services. Additionally, these solutions explain access to digital databases and borrowing policies.

Use Cases of Chatbots In Higher Education

Chatbots are highly versatile in applications. Here’s how organizations involved in higher education use these solutions to improve the educational process.

Career guidance

Chatbots provide information on different careers based on student strengths, weaknesses, and interests. This approach lets individuals better decide where they will apply their knowledge.

Language learning

Some chatbot solutions serve as language tutors, allowing collegegoers to improve their grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. They also offer feedback on language skills.

Mental health support

These solutions offer mental well-being support. They provide information on mental health issues, coping strategies, and support for students suffering from depression and anxiety.  

Personalized learning

Advanced chatbots provide tailored education assistance based on a student’s learning preferences, pace, and style. This approach leads to customized study plans and better results. It’s possible by combining artificial intelligence and higher education practices.

Test preparation

Such programs aid students in preparing for exams. They provide quizzes, review materials, and practice tests. This practice and feedback help students better refresh their knowledge.

Tutoring services

Institutions often use chatbots as a low-cost replacement for tutoring services. These solutions give a personal learning experience, improving understanding of subjects.

Virtual teaching help

In the higher education setting, chatbots work as virtual teaching assistants, offering support outside of classroom hours. This reduces the teacher’s workload and provides constant guidance.

Best Chatbots For Higher Education

The chatbot market has never been so robust, with over 3000 firms involved in developing these solutions. Despite the strong competition, several companies excel in this process better than others. Here are the top chatbot offers for higher education institutions.

  1. HubBot (HubSpot)

This AI-based chatbot service works like Amazon’s QnABot and IBM’s Watson. HubBot answers student questions, book meetings, and tracks communications through integration with existing HubSpot CRMs. HubBot offers life-like answers and interactions thanks to the ML and NLP technologies at its core. This makes the learning process more streamlined for staff and students.

  1. Intercom (Intercom)

This solution is more than a chatbot, combining proactive support and help desk capabilities. Intercom handles education requests, recruitment procedures, and student engagement. This versatility frees up university staff and speeds up the response rate to academic-related requests. Intercom works with Magoosh and Knewton education platforms.

  1. Mongoose Harmony (Drift)

This solution is a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence. One of the best chatbots for higher education is for better student engagement. Mongoose Harmony helps organizations make the learning process more accessible. Drift’s solution provides relevant content and guides students to appropriate persons within the institutions.

  1. Ocelot (Ocelot)

The platform combines artificial intelligence and higher education to help with enrolment and student retention. Ocelot is designed to deliver supplemental content and provide a tailored learning experience. The chatbot can be combined with existing campus systems. This approach gives institutions complete control over the student experience, providing timely support and access to all information they might need on the academic journey.

  1. Watson (IBM)

Bolton College and other universities in Europe, the US, and the UK use Watson to automate daily work. The chatbot answers student questions, provides documents, and processes requests through a technology called Watson Conversation Service. Thanks to a combination with IBM's Cognitive Platform, higher education providers can easily use the platform to make tailored solutions.

  1. QnABot (Amazon)

Amazon’s chatbot combines the power of Amazon Alexa and Amazon Lex to provide a comprehensive conversational platform for students. Here, they can ask different questions about the academic process. This chatbot for educational institutions explains the enrollment process. Higher learning organizations can customize the platform with additional features. Currently, it's being used at St. Louis University.

How To Choose Chatbot For Higher Education

During the research stage, an organization can become overwhelmed with choosing the right chatbot. A systematic approach will lead to better results and ensure the institution won’t regret its choice later. To make the process easier, follow these steps.

  1. Determine what you wish to achieve with the chatbot. Before starting the search, an organization must clearly understand the end goal of chatbot integration. These include taking the staff's workload off, providing application information, or improving student engagement with the courses.
  2. Establish the type of chatbot the organization requires. Next, it must determine the most suitable version of the solution. Depending on its needs, it can be a simple task bot, a keyword-based solution, or an AI-enhanced product.
  3. Find a chatbot development firm. In most cases, higher education institutions cannot build these products independently. If that’s the case, finding a third-party developer with a proven record of delivering chatbots in this sphere is vital.
  4. Evaluate the price. Another critical factor is the final cost of building a solution. It must be aligned with the organization’s budget and goals. Usually, the fewer features a product will have, the cheaper and faster it is to develop one.
  5. Ask the provider if they offer ongoing support. Next, looking for vendors that offer post-release maintenance operations is vital. Ideally, the developers should include this in their offer, as chatbots can malfunction and require updates.
  6. Request examples of previous solutions. Lastly, it's essential to ask providers about their previous projects and see how these work. Some developers even offer demo versions of such chatbots, further streamlining decision-making.

Final Thoughts

The many examples of chatbots for educational institutions show their potential in the field of higher education. Institutions will continue investing in these solutions as they become more affordable and versatile. Artificial intelligence will play a significant role in process automation and handling many aspects of running higher education organizations. We’ll gladly help them discover the best ways of integrating chatbots and tailoring them to their specific needs.

Customer retention is the key

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What are the most relevant factors to consider?

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Don’t overspend on growth marketing without good retention rates

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What’s the ideal customer retention rate?

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Next steps to increase your customer retention

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