End of year exams have been taken, dissertations have been handed in and most students will have taken part in a mass exodus from campus in favour of less temperamental temperatures. The results have come in and graduation parties are well under way.
While this may be a quiet time for university students outside of the graduation gowns and days out with parents to celebrate, it’s often one of the busiest for higher education institutions. Marketing plans are in full swing with booking tours, organising events and planning meetings looking forward to following years.
Here are four key university marketing activities you should focus on to make the most of your summer:
1 – Researching new markets for international student recruitment
With student recruitment for this year completed, summer is an appropriate time to reflect on your efforts and to begin making plans for the following year. With time to do thorough research into which markets you want to target this time around, summer is an ideal time to speak with our consultants about new market entry research and recommendations.
Events such as the QS World University Tour are a good place to start and the earlier your university gets involved the more time you’ll have to prepare.
2 – Make use of summer courses as university marketing collateral
Summer courses are increasingly popular with students, whether they are used as a way to gain a new and valuable skill, or to get a ‘taster’ of courses they might be interested in studying full time.
According to HEFCE research, summer school participants were twice as likely to apply and be accepted into higher education institutions as those with similar backgrounds who did not participate, making said courses highly valuable to both students and universities. Students get a taste of courses and are more likely to gain a place on the full-time course, and universities see an increase in applications.
Your summer courses are the perfect chance to show off your university facilities to future students. Sending roundup emails of what has been covered during summer courses, or even filming some of the courses in action and showcasing them on your university website, will give a real ‘first-hand’ impression of what your university has to offer.
There will also be plenty of opportunity to leverage social media to show what is being learnt by interacting with students online, posting updates on lessons and projects and asking students to post their opinions and first-hand accounts online.
3 – Enhance student employment prospects
One of the things prospective students will scrutinise most about a university is the reputation it has with employers and the employment rate of its alumni. The summer break is an ideal time to foster connections with local businesses and organisations, working with them to offer summer internships and work placements to suitable candidates.
In a recent post we looked at how higher education fees have begun to form a more career-focused generation, with university graduates determined to get a career lined up while they are still studying. The QS Intelligence Unit report How Do Students Use Rankings? reveals that students place a high level of importance on how a university ranks in terms of graduate employment rates and employer reputation. Therefore the summer break is a time for many students to get experience on their CV and learn real-life skills that will add to their future employability.
Send out information over the summer that could be of interest to career-minded students in your student email newsletter. This could be information about courses your university will be running, workshops or events in the area that could be useful for students to attend and even whitepapers and reports on topics such as ‘How to boost your employability’.
4 – Exhibit the enjoyable student experience
Not every student will want to work through the summer; the academically quiet months are a great time to engage on a more personal level. Relaxed and well-rested students make for better students when term starts again. But this is not the only benefit – there are also plenty of opportunities for promotion of your university through events marketing and social media coverage.
This is a great opportunity to let prospective students see what a great time they could be having at your university when they’re not studying. This could be anything as simple as running group fitness classes and sports events like the University of Kent does during the summer months, to arranging larger social events for those students (and prospective students) in the area.
Create a hashtag for any summer social events or summer giveaways and ask students to post their experiences and photos on Twitter and Instagram using that hashtag. You can then tag and retweet the best ones on your own social media channels.
For example, York St John University gave out packs with free headphones to students telling them to “Press pause and relax this summer” to promote the hashtag #YSJLife.
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