With the landscape of international school admissions evolving before our eyes, artificial intelligence has emerged as a transformative force, reshaping traditional workflows and processes by offering unprecedented benefits for both schools and families. From streamlining the application process to personalising communication, AI presents a myriad of benefits that promise to revolutionise the family journey.

However, amidst the promises lie concerns and criticisms regarding transparency, accuracy, and the potential for algorithmic biases. As we dive into the topic of AI-driven admissions, it’s crucial to explore the dual nature of these advancements in technology, acknowledging the immense potential while remaining vigilant of any ethical implications.

AI Opportunities and Benefits

Reputation and Visibility

Schools can leverage AI to showcase their excellence and impact in various ways. For example, AI can help them generate and share high-quality and engaging content, such as multilingual videos (auto-translated into any language – see example here), podcasts, blogs, and infographics, that highlight their achievements, outcomes, and stories (for more ideas on how to build your school brand, check out our free guide). Generative AI can fast-track the creation of tailored content that schools can publish, to resonate with diverse audiences, thereby expanding their reach and engagement.

AI, alongside more traditional CRM analytics, can also help schools monitor and manage their online reputation and presence, by using sentiment analysis, web analytics, and natural language processing (such as in online meetings with tools like Zoom’s AI companion), to understand and respond to their audiences’ perceptions and feedback. By gauging families’ perceptions and engagement in real-time, schools can promptly address concerns, capitalise on positive sentiment, and shape their narrative strategically.

Recruitment and Retention

AI and data analytics can help schools analyse their data from various sources, such as student profiles, preferences, behaviours, and feedback, to create personalised and effective recruitment and retention campaigns. It can also help schools communicate with prospective and current students through chatbots, virtual assistants, and social media, to provide them with timely and bespoke information and support.

These AI-driven tools serve as accessible and responsive channels through which schools can deliver tailored information and support in real-time. For instance, chatbots equipped with natural language processing capabilities, offer immediate responses to enquiries, guiding families through the admissions process with personalised assistance. International schools can thereby establish a stronger rapport with current and prospective families as well as alumni, enhancing engagement, satisfaction, and ultimately, enrolment, re-enrolment and financial donations.

Improved Decision Making

AI algorithms can analyse large volumes of data to identify patterns and trends in applicant profiles, academic achievements, and other relevant factors. This data-driven approach can help schools make more informed decisions about which candidates to admit.

Through rapid yet meticulous examination, AI can discern correlations and predictive indicators, facilitating a nuanced understanding of family/candidate suitability and potential contributions to the school community. This analytical prowess empowers schools to prioritise candidates whose profiles align closely with their mission, vision and ethos. By using AI to efficiently extract actionable intelligence from potentially complex datasets, admissions teams can navigate their process with heightened precision and confidence.

Enhanced Personalisation

AI can be used to personalise communications with prospective families and alumni based on their interests, preferences, and past interactions with the school (to learn more about lead scoring from a student recruitment and admissions perspective, click here). This can lead to more meaningful engagement and a higher likelihood of conversion or participation.

This data-driven approach enables schools to craft bespoke communications that resonate deeply with each recipient, instilling a sense of connection and relevance. Whether it’s delivering targeted newsletters, event invitations, or alumni updates, schools can benefit from AI and ensure that each communication reflects an understanding of the student’s unique relationship with the school.

AI Concerns and Criticisms

Lack of Human Touch

This is perhaps the most prevalent criticism of AI, in an international or independent school admissions context. While AI can automate many aspects of the admissions and marketing process, it may also result in a loss of human interaction and personalised attention, which could be detrimental to the overall parent journey and student experience.

A personal touch remains essential in international and independent school admissions as it lays the foundation for genuine connections and understanding between schools and prospective families. Beyond metrics and algorithms, human interactions provide invaluable insights into student aspirations, character, and potential contributions to the school community, enriching the holistic evaluation process.

Data Privacy Concerns

Implementing AI in admissions and marketing involves collecting and analysing large amounts of personal data from applicants and alumni. Schools must ensure compliance with data protection regulations and take measures to safeguard sensitive information against breaches or misuse.

The data could encompass a spectrum of sensitive information ranging from academic records to personal preferences. In navigating this landscape, schools are responsible for upholding stringent compliance with data protection regulations, such as GDPR, ensuring that the handling of personal data aligns with legal mandates and ethical standards.

Bias and Fairness

AI algorithms may inadvertently perpetuate biases present in historical data, which is why it’s essential to strike a balance between technology and human expertise to make well-informed decisions.

For example, if the AI systems were trained on, and therefore influenced by, factors like demographic, political or socio-economic data, schools might replicate those biases resulting in communication or decision making that is less inclusive. Hence, it becomes crucial to take an approach where human oversight and intervention complement AI-driven analyses, enabling more nuance that mitigates the perpetuation of biases and ensures inclusivity in all aspects of the admissions and marketing process.


The future for international and independent school admissions is both exciting and challenging. AI has the potential to augment or replace inefficient, resource-intensive processes and transform both the staff and family experience by providing hyper-personalisation, business intelligence and automation. However, it also poses ethical and social risks, such as privacy, bias, and accountability. Therefore, schools need to adopt a responsible and inclusive approach to AI, and ensure that human values and skills are still at the core of their workflows.

To learn more about how OpenApply’s robust admissions management, CRM and advancement system is leveraging emerging technologies like generative AI, as well as our exciting plans to add more AI-assisted features to enhance the admissions process, book a free demo with a member of our team:

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