Case Study - International Student Acquisition and Retention

Australian Catholic University





Case Study

Australian Catholic University has contracted Successful Graduate to support the international student acquisition and retention process.

ACU is ranked first in Australia for graduate employment. (Graduate Outcomes Survey – Longitudinal 2022, medium-term, full-time employment 2020–2022 for domestic undergraduate students). We are proud to directly support this ranking with our products.

Our platform is being utilised to support student preparation across key stages of the student acquisition lifecycle, and is also helping to support student retention through the release of employability material for first year students.


Early intervention in higher education refers to the proactive identification and support of students at the earliest stages of their academic journey. There is a new trend emerging which involves layering employability, academic and pre-departure online training courses into the University value proposition for future students, taking early intervention to a new level. Leading universities in Australia are now offering online employability and student preparation training courses as part of the application to offer to acceptance to orientation components of the student lifecycle. Many of these universities, including ACU, are providing the courses as incentives, releasing these micro-credentials to students who apply for, accept or confirm offers. The results have been outstanding.

ACU commenced incentivising international student enrolment conversions with micro-credentials on their Successful Graduate platform at in late 2022. QS and Successful Graduate both work with ACU to support enrolment conversions. Since the launch of the project, more than 1,950 international students from 933 overseas locations have moved through the enrolment conversion lifecycle on the ACU Successful Graduate platform.

The Process.

Despite adverse market conditions, the most recent year-on-year ACU international student data (Sem 1 2023 vs Sem 1 2024) has seen an increase in student enrolments, with increased engagement (quadrupled, year on year) by students throughout their decision journey to converted enrolment.

ACU has put in place a methodical approach to drive an increase in student diversity, an increase in applications and enrolments, a higher level of engagement with future students and has utilised outstanding qualitative feedback from these future students to further enhance their experience and interaction with digital tools that are used to support the student recruitment process.

From August 2023 to February 2024, ACU automated several of these digital tools, across multiple platforms, namely from the StudyLink platform linking students to the platform and from the QS platform doing the same, to create a seamless experience for students as they interact with ACU. The result from this automation has seen a large increase in engagement with online micro-credentials, with more than 1950 future ACU students receiving Successful Graduate training courses as incentives to move through the student recruitment funnel. An Academic Readiness Course, a Pre-Departure Course, a Finding Part Time Work Course and a 5 Steps to Self-Leadership Management Course have been strategically released to future students as they have responded to automated ACU/QS/Studylink nurture campaigns that have encouraged students to apply to study, accept offers, and confirm their enrolments.

Apart from the impact these digital tools may have had upon student engagement and enrolments, what matters most is how the students have responded.  Qualitative data in the form of student feedback about micro-credentials they have received from ACU and Successful Graduate has been overwhelmingly positive, with an average net promoter score satisfaction rate of 97%. When asked how likely each student is to confirm their enrolment with ACU as a result of receiving their first micro-credential at the front end of the recruitment funnel, the net result has been 92% likelihood.

The experience shows the importance of linking digital tools with the student experience and useability to deliver information as and when required by students at each stage of their decision making process. This in turn creates an enhanced future student journey that is supported by both digital and human interactions. By understanding human needs at different stages of the student acquisition process, ACU has been able to deliver information digitally that both reinforces their value proposition and provides much needed information to students.

ACU has recognised the importance of differentiating its support to UG and PG students upon enrolment. Accordingly, the university is providing all enrolling international Masters students with the Successful Graduate 5 Steps to Self-Leadership Mastery course as an enrolment incentive. Leadership is an essential component of all Masters courses, whether they be related to ACU’s Business, Legal, Education, IT, Sporting, Theological or Healthcare faculties.

Contact us to learn how we can incentivise your students to apply, enrol and remain enrolled.

Adapted to enable third party access.

Future students with this client are able to access our materials through a contracted third party (QS). This party encourages students who are at key stages of enrolment with ACU to complete our courses on the contracted ACU Successful Graduate site. These students complete our products as incentives to confirm their enrolment.

Enrolment Incentive

One objective being met by the installation is the increase in confirmed international student enrolments. Successful Graduate courses are being deployed to future students at different stages of the enrolment process. Conditional and unconditional offer holders are registered for our products when confirming their enrolment with ACU.

Postgraduate student recruitment

Postgraduate ACU international students are offered our 5 Steps to Self Leadership Mastery course as an incentive to confirm their enrolment with the university. All international Masters students are advised about the course in their letter of offer. Course access is released upon confirmation of enrolment.

Diverse Campus Locations

ACU now boasts 8 different campus locations – 7 across Australia (Ballarat, Blacktown, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, North Sydney, Strathfield), and a new campus in Rome. Regardless of their location, all future and first year international students have access to our Successful Graduate platform.

Improving quality applications.

Integration with third party enrolment service provider.

Demonstrably supporting client student retention strategy.