Hong Kong University of Science & Technology

"We can track our goals of attracting a diverse student body and preparing them for success."

— Sean Ferguson,
Associate Dean of Programs & Director of MBA Programs

University connects talented students from around the world

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s (HKUST) motto is ‘Serve, Learn, Act’ – three words that capture the university’s commitment to nurturing students so that they become agents of positive change. To achieve this, the university must attract talented students from across the world and match graduates with promising employment opportunities. 

Too much paper and not enough time

When Pauline Cheung, Assistant Director - MBA Programs, joined HKUST Business School, teams were using different IT systems. “It was impossible to develop complex workflows and automate them.”

One of HKUST’s goals was to become better at managing the diversity of its student population. Not only in terms of nationality but also industry and academic background. To attract a diversified student body the university would need to collect more information from applicants and make better use of it.

At that time, HKUST relied heavily on paper applications from prospective students, The process was time-consuming for both future graduates and staff.

The solution: Salesforce Sales Cloud

Before deciding on Salesforce, the project team – led by the Associate Dean of Master’s Programs and Director of the MBA Program, Sean Ferguson, – considered a range of proprietary programs specifically for tertiary institutions. However, Salesforce offered the greatest scalability and versatility. HKUST team deployed Sales Cloud, Community Cloud and the Salesforce 1 Mobile App.

Now, Salesforce Sales Cloud streamlines the application process for the HKUST MBA Program, managing details for all prospective and current students. Reports and dashboards give Ferguson’s team an easy view of information about where students are coming from and what their credentials are. As students approach graduation, the university tracks which recruiters are providing them with the most valuable opportunities.

Capacity for handling applications up by around 60 per cent

One of the first challenges HKUST took on was to migrate its entire student application system onto the new platform. The university decided to start from scratch, rather than undertaking the time-consuming task of bringing data across from legacy hardware.

Prospective students now get personalised access to an online HKUST community where they can submit applications . Their information is stored securely, so that they can review their completed applications and revisit them at a later date.

The new process is quicker on both sides. It’s faster for students, and it now takes 60 per cent less time to process incoming applications. “It used to take three weeks to process an application, but now it takes only one,” says Cheung. “Better still, the amount of paper in our offices has more than halved.”

Importantly, Ferguson and his colleagues can now use Salesforce to generate reports on the incoming student population to make sure it’s both academically and culturally diverse. “Dashboard reporting also makes it much easier to award scholarships to deserving applicants,” he says.

HKUST has integrated Salesforce with Outlook for staff members. Any additional correspondence from applicants can be linked to the relevant student profile by simply clicking on the applicant’s name.

Matching students with the right jobs

According to Ferguson, it used to be quite difficult for HKUST to determine which prospective employers were most valuable to us. “It’s now much easier to pick out those businesses that regularly appear on campus, attend graduate seminars, and offer corporate development programs.”

According to Cheung, the team at HKUST has adopted Salesforce enthusiastically. “It’s a world away from having five or six different systems,” she says.


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