How is AI impacting higher education recruitment?

7 mins
TPP Recruitment

By TPP Recruitment

As artificial intelligence (AI) advances, governments recognise the need for regulations to guide its use. The Government’s AI Regulation White Paper clearly indicates this growing awareness. But beyond the regulatory discussions, AI is making a significant impact in education by becoming a powerful tool for work, organisation, and collaboration.

How exactly is artificial intelligence being utilised within education recruitment? How does this developing technology impact recruitment practices and education roles, and what are the risks associated with its use?

In this guide, we'll examine three key ways AI is currently being used in education recruitment, including its impact on talent acquisition within the academic sphere, its limitations, and its challenges.

How AI is being utilised in higher education recruitment

AI is becoming increasingly prevalent across various sectors, and recruitment is no exception. In higher education, AI is being used to transform how institutions attract and hire talent.

The aim is to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the hiring process. However, using AI in recruitment has its risks and difficulties. Concerns about bias, transparency, and the implications for human roles in hiring continue to spark debate.

In higher education recruitment, AI utilises advanced algorithms and machine learning to streamline processes. This results in more data-driven decisions, new insights, improved candidate experiences, and changes in job roles.

If this seems complex, don’t worry. We'll explore these changes in more detail in the sections below.

AI is being used to automate elements of the hiring process

AI is being used to automate aspects of the hiring process. Recruiting suitable candidates in the education sector is crucial for ensuring higher education institutions' success and students' well-being. However, the education sector is often bustling with activity, making it challenging to dedicate sufficient time and resources to recruitment.

Despite its importance, various factors can prevent the smooth execution of recruitment efforts, leading to issues along the way, including:

  • Time constraints: Busy leaders often have limited time for thorough interviews, which results in rushed decisions and incomplete candidate evaluations.
  • Administrative burden: Managing many applications and related documentation can be overwhelming, leading to delays and potential errors.
  • Multiple interview rounds and delays: Coordinating various interviews can be time-consuming and frustrating, causing delays and candidate disinterest.

To address these challenges, AI is being employed to automate various administrative aspects of the recruitment process:

  • Automated scheduling: AI-driven tools help manage interview schedules efficiently, reducing the back-and-forth communication required to set up interviews. This allows leaders in higher education institutions to allocate their time more effectively.
  • CV screening: AI can quickly scan and filter CVs to identify candidates who meet basic qualifications. This can save recruiters time during the initial screening process and ensure that suitable candidates are identified promptly.
  • Communication automation: AI can handle candidate communications, such as sending confirmation emails, reminders, and updates about application status. This can support consistent and timely communication, improving candidate experience in higher education recruitment.
  • Data organisation: AI assists in organising and managing candidate information by categorising applications based on predefined criteria. This gives recruiters a more precise and more organised view of candidate qualifications without making subjective assessments.

While AI is transforming some administrative aspects of recruitment, it is important to recognise that adopting AI in higher education recruitment may present challenges such as algorithm bias, loss of human touch, data privacy concerns, limited adaptability, and dependency on technology. 

AI is being used to support candidate experience and engagement

Some higher education institutions are starting to use AI to help with the administrative side of recruitment and to improve the overall candidate experience. A positive candidate experience is crucial for attracting and keeping top talent, but managing it can be time-consuming for staff. 

By automating these tasks, AI can free up staff to focus on elements of the recruitment process that require more of a human touch. Studies, such as the one by Glassdoor, show a 40% decrease in new hire turnover within the first year for those with a positive experience.

Here are some ways AI is being used to support candidate engagement and experience:

  • Communication and guidance: AI-powered chatbots can provide support and advice, ensuring candidates get timely responses and effective communication. This makes the recruitment process more accessible and responsive, helping candidates feel more connected and informed.
  • Targeted outreach: AI can analyse candidates' backgrounds to identify those who are a strong fit for specific roles. This helps institutions tailor their outreach efforts, offering more relevant job recommendations and interview opportunities, which keeps candidates more engaged and interested.
  • Predictive analytics: AI tools can predict candidate preferences and behaviours, allowing institutions to tailor their engagement strategies effectively and adapt recruitment processes based on emerging trends. This helps create more meaningful interactions with candidates.
  • Virtual assessments and interviews: AI supports virtual assessments and interviews, providing candidates with the flexibility and convenience of remote options. This removes logistical barriers and makes the process more accessible to a wider range of candidates, enhancing their overall experience.
  • Continuous improvement: AI-driven platforms can collect and analyse candidate feedback, helping institutions to continually refine their recruitment processes. By addressing candidate concerns and making improvements based on feedback, institutions can show they care about the candidate's experience.

Artificial intelligence can help with many candidate-focused tasks, but it's mainly used for administrative purposes. Personalised communication with candidates is crucial for engagement. While AI can ease the communication workload in higher education, it cannot replace the value of human interaction.

AI integration is changing the nature of today’s higher education jobs

Higher education is evolving quickly, with rising costs and demanding job responsibilities. After the pandemic, many staff members have found their workloads increasing and harder to manage. A recent survey showed most staff felt this burden.

This pressure is a big concern for higher education. Attracting and keeping talented professionals is essential. But is AI the solution?

AI is making its way into education, not by taking over jobs, but by helping in various ways. Here’s how AI could be changing job roles in higher education:

  • Making admin tasks easier: AI can handle routine administrative tasks like scheduling and data management, freeing up staff to focus on more impactful work.
  • Helping teaching assistants: By taking over repetitive tasks, AI lets teaching assistants provide more personalised support and directly engage with students' needs.
  • Aiding decision-making: AI tools can assist with data analysis, which can support curriculum development and personalised assessments, potentially enhancing the educational process.
  • Managing resources better: AI can automate tasks like lesson planning and assignment grading, which might help reduce the workload and ease some financial pressures.

While AI offers several potential benefits, it’s essential to carefully assess its role to ensure it genuinely alleviates staff stress and supports them effectively while also understanding the risks.

Considerations, limitations and risks

AI is changing higher education recruitment by automating routine tasks. While this offers many benefits, it's important to be aware of the considerations, limitations, and risks involved.

Privacy and ethical concerns:

  • Data handling: AI systems in education require a lot of personal data, raising privacy issues.
  • Communication: Automated interactions can feel impersonal, affecting candidate experience.
  • Ethical issues: Ensuring fair and unbiased communication is essential in the education sector.

Data security and usage:

  • Data Protection: AI systems are targets for cyberattacks; securing candidate data is critical.
  • Regulatory compliance: The use of data must follow strict regulations to avoid legal issues in higher education recruitment.
  • Transparency: Candidates should know how their data is being used by AI in education.

Monitoring and maintenance:

  • Ongoing management: AI isn't a "set and forget" solution. It needs regular updates and monitoring. Feeding and maintaining accurate AI data can be time-consuming in the education sector.
  • Human oversight needed: AI can help filter applications but shouldn't make final decisions in higher education recruitment.
  • Bias concerns: AI can unintentionally reflect biases in the data it was trained on, which is a significant concern in the education sector.

Key Points to Remember

If you are planning on using AI in higher education recruitment, it can be a great tool. However, remember to:

  • Balance AI and human interaction: Combine AI efficiency with human empathy and judgement in the education sector. Creativity and human input will never be replaced.
  • Focus on data security: Protect candidate information to maintain trust in higher education recruitment.
  • Regularly update and monitor AI: Ensure AI systems are up-to-date and functioning correctly in education.
  • Be transparent: Clearly communicate how AI is used in the recruitment process in the education sector.

By keeping these considerations in mind, the education sector can use AI to improve higher education recruitment while addressing potential risks.

To learn more about these challenges, check out our blog on AI in recruitment; benefits, limitations and considerations

Final thoughts on AI’s impact on higher education recruitment

AI is impacting higher education recruitment by automating processes, assessing skills, and assisting in matching candidates to jobs. It offers benefits like efficiency and objectivity. However, it also poses challenges, such as potential job displacement and education professionals' need for ongoing adaptation.

While AI is being used in the education sector, it is essential to acknowledge its potential and current limitations. A way forward that eases workloads, ensures positive experiences, and respects candidates and their data is also essential.

Combining industry knowledge with a powerful talent network

At TPP, our consultants have an in-depth knowledge of higher education recruitment. With dedicated teams specialising in monitoring industry hiring trends, we are well-equipped to assist you with various talent acquisition needs. Whether you need to diversify where you are searching for academic professionals or looking for support with the entire recruitment process, we can assist you. 

Contact us today to discover how our specialist team can support your higher education institution. 

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  • TPP Recruitment, Northern & Shell Building, 4th Floor, 10 Lower Thames Street, London, EC3R 6AF