Engaging Prospective Postgraduates; Approaches Across the Sector
This webinar took place at 10am on Wednesday, 8 December and was presented by Jonathan Atkinson, University of Liverpool; Jack Clare, University of Wolverhampton; Jen Barton, Durham University; Elliot Newstead, University of Leicester; and Jamie Graney, University of Liverpool.
We wrapped up our 2021 PG Marketing Conference Webinar Series with a whopper of an event which discussed engagement strategies around shifting messaging, transitioning, collaborating and the student voice. Here a some of the highlights from the event.
Make your messaging postgrad specific
There is a danger for universities to use the same messaging for undergraduate and postgraduate audiences, especially when referring to the city and support services. Feedback from postgraduates indicates that they don’t feel like a valued customer when the information is generic. USP’s for undergraduates might center around their sense of place and student community, but for postgrads, especially those on a one year Masters, they want to know about the subject, the funding and their career prospects.
Some of the best initiatives have been those that allow for in-depth conversations with current students and staff through taster lectures and Q&As. The key thing to remember: there’s so much more choice for prospective postgrads, it’s not just 5 institutions in UCAS, it could be 55, so standing out from the crowd is critical.
Focus on transition for recruitment and retainment
The transition to postgraduate study is only just starting to be a key focus for universities. Postgraduate recruitment is very diverse, with students coming from just around the corner, 50 miles away or abroad, straight from undergraduate education or coming back after a decade in work, and this initial transition needs time to be properly mapped out and resourced.
The University of Leicester created their HeadStart campaign to provide support around using the library and academic writing to students who had been out of education for a while as a way to help support this transition period and their success last year has resulted in the initiative being continued and broadened for the next cohort.
There is also more that could be done to encourage current undergraduates to stay on for postgrad study. Ideas included working with Careers Services to embed the possibility of postgraduate study into the curriculum and make it part of their graduate discussion.
A problem shared is a problem halved
Together we can make postgraduate education be seen as a viable option for all, by focusing on levelling the playing field and showcasing all the available options. Don’t just showcase the postgrad courses on offer at your institution in conversations with undergrads, but also the opportunities elsewhere and put the student’s needs at the heart of the conversation.
Remember that there isn’t one single student voice
We know how diverse the student body can be, but do we always listen to the student voice enough to showcase this effectively? When government and institutions started using the term ‘student experience’, it resulted in some groups feeling excluded because they didn’t fit the mold of a ‘typical’ student. This sense of disconnect can be carried into their postgraduate education so the sector needs to shout loud and proud about the diversity of the student population.
The student voice is a choir of singers so, in order to hear them all, do large-scale surveys, get feedback from events, use your webpage analytics, look at chat records, do focus groups with student ambassadors and keep conversations going with course reps to help inform your marketing. Students may even feel more satisfied with their university experience as they’ve been listened to.
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Find out what we learnt from marketing and recruitment professionals across the sector.