Posted on 24 May '24

5 Takeaways from the Student Panel at Our Spring 2024 Marketing Conference

On Thursday 16 May, we hosted our first Marketing Conference of 2024 at Channing Hall in Sheffield. Back by popular demand, our student panel featured prospective and current postgraduates who shared their experiences of higher education so far.

If you missed out, don’t worry - we’ve put together five key takeaways from the panel to help inform your recruitment strategy! You can also sign up for our London Marketing Conference taking place this September.

#1 Many current undergraduates would prefer not to study their Masters at a new university…

All of our panellists expressed enthusiasm about the idea of studying their postgraduate degree at the same university as their Bachelors. Alumni discounts, familiarity with the city, campus and lecturers, as well as having an established social network, were all strong motivating factors for staying put!

The sole reason cited for considering a new university was to study a specific course not offered at their current one. Prospective Masters students were apprehensive about having to settle at a new institution for a single-year course, and seemed keen to avoid this.

#2… but more resources should be directed towards recruiting them

Despite so much potential for recruitment to Masters degrees among current students, many did not feel that they were being provided with enough information about progressing to the next level. Some reported relying on academic staff for advice about postgraduate study, with little coming from university marketing departments.

One panellist also mentioned wanting assurance that they were ‘good enough’ for postgraduate study. Academics are well-placed to provide this – but so are marketers! Messaging that encourages undergraduates to have confidence in their ability to study at the postgraduate level could provide a personal and reassuring touch.

There is plenty of room for more targeting of undergraduates, whether via email, on social media or using prominently placed assets and information within Virtual Learning Environments. This is a key audience for postgraduate recruitment – so don’t let it go to waste!

#3 Virtual open days are declining in popularity

Members of our panel expressed a strong preference for in-person open days over virtual ones. One panellist felt that the impersonal nature of virtual events was unsuitable for postgraduate study specifically, which she felt was all about getting more deeply involved with her academic department. Another student mentioned that a big draw of physical open days was getting to see university facilities in person.

Several panellists said that they’d be willing to travel a significant distance for a physical event, but only if they’d received plenty of communication about the day ahead of time so they knew it would be worth it!

#4 Bulky paper prospectuses are fast going out of fashion

If there’s one thing our panel agreed on, it’s that 100+ page prospectuses detailing every course on offer at a university are more of a hindrance than a help . Students are not keen on rifling through reems of pages to find information that is actually relevant to them! That said, there was still a desire amongst students to have some kind of paper souvenir from any events they attended, such as a subject-specific pamphlet with information about their prospective course (especially one with a handy campus map!). There was also considerable enthusiasm for free tote bags.

#5 Postgraduate study fairs are catering to a real need

Multiple panellists expressed that it would be useful to attend the postgraduate equivalent of a UCAS study fair, where they could explore all of their options under one roof. If only such a thing existed.

To be clear – and also to probably ruin the joke – such a thing does exist, in the form of our Postgrad LIVE study fairs (we promise, we didn’t plant that question, it came up as part of the conversation naturally!). You can now book your stand for October 2024 and February 2025!

Our next Marketing Conference will be held on Thursday 12 September in London. You can book your tickets early now!

FindAUniversity take pride in being experts in postgraduate education. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram for regular insight, comment and case studies.

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