The Student Recruiters: Craig Dove at the University of Sussex

Craig Dove, Acting Head of UK Student Recruitment at the University of Sussex

Students are the lifeblood of universities, and those that recruit them play a crucial part in enabling universities to achieve their enrolment goals. We spoke to Craig Dove, Acting Head of UK Student Recruitment at the University of Sussex about how he started in his student recruitment role, why he’s stuck around, and his favourite moments in the role.

Please can you take us through your work experience?

Straight out of university in 2010 I entered a really saturated graduate job market, so I joined a management graduate scheme for the pub chain I worked at. After two years, I wanted a career change. Off the back of a conversation with a customer in the pub, I ended up working in healthcare policy, working with Trauma and Orthopaedic surgeons and based in the Royal College of Surgeons in central London. I was a Policy and Programmes Officer for about 18 months, before I decided it wasn’t for me. It was my now wife that sent me a role at the University of Sussex for a Schools and Colleges Visits Coordinator – I really liked the sound of the role and I’d been heavily involved with my Students’ Union whilst at the University of Kent, so was keen to share those positive experiences with others.

Why do you like working in student recruitment and how did you get into it?

Two reasons – I love changing the perceptions of young people about university, and I mostly love the people that work in HE (especially those in Student Recruitment). Though I don’t do it as much as I used to, there’s such an amazing feeling you get when young people tell you they’re now thinking about going to university after hearing one of your talks. I remember saying to a colleague when I first started at Sussex, “everyone is so nice here!”, he said to me “just wait and see” and I’m still waiting. Compared to the people I worked with in London, everyone in Higher Education is so nice! I find that because of the nature of Student Recruitment work the people you meet are very friendly and warm and I love that about the sector.

Do you have a favourite moment in your job?

It’s hard to choose just one, but delivering a session at the UCAS National Teachers Conference with the person that hired me (who’s now a Director of Global Recruitment and Admissions) felt like a really big achievement. It highlighted how far I’d come.

What are the challenges you’re facing in recruiting international students?

The UK has just become a less appealing place to study generally and there’s work to be done to make international students, particularly those from the EU, feel like studying in the UK is worth it again. Competition is fierce, so highlighting what makes our institution special is really important at the moment.

How do student recruitment events help you in your efforts to recruit international students?

They’re vital. Nothing quite sells the institution like getting a student on to campus, but we do a lot online to help get students acquainted with Sussex.

What is your advice to international students looking to study at your university?

Universities thrive and are enriched by having multicultural communities and it’s something that we pride ourselves on, Sussex is a warm and welcoming place and we’re always only too happy to help support your application.

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