Roundtable: How to run a successful student recruitment campaign

With the student firmly placed as the buyer and universities fiercely competing to attract new students, in the first in our series Cathy Parnham talks to Oliver Harrison

Oliver Harrison is Director of insight & engagement at Campus Life

Q. How has student recruitment marketing changed over the last five or so years?

The biggest change has been the shift in power from the university to the student. The dip in the number of 18-year-olds has meant that students now are in a buyer’s market, having the confidence to pick and choose where they want to go. We’ve seen this from the increase in students applying through clearing this year. Institutions need to recognise this change and be clearer in what makes them the right choice for the applicant.

Q. What are the key ingredients a successful student recruitment marketing campaign should have?

Students now are very aware when they’re being sold to and turn to peer recommendation more than ever before. So, it’s vital that you work collaboratively with your current students to share the messages you want to promote to prospective students in the way that students would share them.

Q. What has been the most effective channel for targeting this September’s intake for UK-based students – and which for international?

For Chinese students, most universities concentrate on WeChat and Weibo, but through our Chinese student focus groups, we’ve identified other sites and destinations like Zhihu and Billi Billi where Chinese students look for information but where most UK universities don’t have a presence. Make sure you really know your audience!

Q. Tell us about any new recruitment marketing tools you have for the 2020 intake?

We’re just about to launch our Digital Brand Ambassador service where we help universities work with their students not only to create engaging content but also to be in the right places online to answer questions prospective students have. It’s the perfect mix of authoritative information through a trusted source.

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