Brandon University reaches ’round the world with international virtual open house

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Brandon University faculty, staff and current students put out the digital red carpet for prospective students from all four corners of the globe with an international conference held online last weekend.

“We were thrilled with the interest and enthusiasm from these future students, who are so eager to come learn here, and from everyone at BU who showed these students what a great and welcoming community Brandon University is,” said David Rowland, Director of International Activities at BU and the organizer of the two-day conference. “We’re exhausted, but it was so worthwhile, and we are already planning for two more in February and in May that will be even better, with all that we’ve learned.”

Over 70 prospective students from more than a dozen different countries took part in the information sessions, small-group chats, and feature presentations over the weekend. Typically, this type of information would be delivered in person, with Rowland travelling to special educational fairs in different countries to meet with students and their parents in person. With travel curtailed due to the pandemic, Rowland instead leveraged video-conferencing to bring even more of BU directly to the students.

“This was a true team effort, and students were so impressed with the overwhelming level of support on display,” Rowland said. “Rather than just talking to me, they were able to connect directly with their future professors and classmates, as well as many of the BU community who will support them once they are here.”

Along with a general stream of information, the open house was organized with regionally-specific breakout rooms so that prospective students from, say, the Caribbean, could meet and chat with immigration consultants, faculty and current students who are also from that region. They also had engaging presentations from BU staff and administrators, including a virtual walkthrough tour of residence, and important admission documentation and application information.

Rowland said that the presence and openness of the BU community was a difference-maker at the conference. He said students came impressed by the fact that deans and directors were involved. Many prospective students leapt at the chance to hear from and to chat online directly with BU President Dr. David Docherty.

“We had some wonderful chats, and I came away inspired and energized,” Docherty said. “It is heartening to hear such enthusiasm from people who are ready to make the huge move to Canada and who are entrusting their futures to Brandon University. We are ready to welcome them, and we showed that this weekend.”

Rowland says the one-on-one opportunities over the weekend help demonstrate the value of coming to a smaller institution like BU — where students can regularly run into and get to know some of the most senior academics and administrators on campus.

“We’ve carved our niche, and we are giving them exactly what we say we will — a personal, unique experience,” he said. “They are so pleased they are able to connect with us, and they love how engaging and supportive our staff and faculty are here at BU.”


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