Competition to get the attention of students is fierce, and that would still be an understatement. We’re talking 3,000 ads a day fierce, that's how much advertising your typical student sees every day. And universities really don't have it easy. With the sector riddled with cliches, near-identical USPs and contradicting league tables, the question everyone's asking is, how do you really stand out? Take note people.

By aligning to a bigger cause (and don't forget it must be authentic), your brand can resonate with students who are telling us loud and clear they care more about the world around them, than any other generation. With that in mind, we're going to take a look at how striding toward social consciousness could be the key to getting the attention of Gen Z.

News broke this month that Goldsmiths University seeks to become carbon neutral by 2025 and from September this year, all-beef products will be scrapped from their campus.

And how do student’s feel about this bold and burgerless move? Well, in actual fact, a recent survey found an outstanding 93% of students believed that brands should take a stand on environmental issues. And 77% are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products. In addition, 82% are more likely to buy a product if it’s environmentally friendly. So with higher education being increasingly commercialised and degrees being seen as an investment, it makes sense to be aligned. And we know most universities are, so why not showcase that?

"Declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words. I truly believe we face a defining moment in global history and Goldsmiths now stands shoulder to shoulder with other organizations willing to call the alarm and take urgent action to cut carbon use."

- Frances Corner, Goldsmiths' Warden

And as a generation of ‘plant-based’, ’free-from’ and ‘#soyanotsorry’ individuals, fighting for global justice, the burgerless campus is a celebrated move. Almost a quarter of 18-24-year-olds have turned vegan in the past year, and Waitrose found that people in the 18-to-34 age group were the most likely demographic to switch to veganism, many citing environmental concerns as the motivation. Going green (and beef-free) isn’t just great for the planet, but also for connecting and engaging with this woke demographic. 

As the instrumental pillars that universities are to society, concerning themselves with global causes in today’s climate, is a given. And while it’s important to tackle these issues in a way which is unique to your brand, whether it’s with a Plastic Pledge, a drive for green energy only, or with a burger ban, sustainability is something students will get behind, regardless of the specifics, as long as it’s authentic. Need evidence? Check out this example.

“It’s encouraging to see an institution like Goldsmiths not simply declaring a climate emergency, but acting on it.”

- Rosie Rogers, Climate emergency campaigner for Greenpeace UK

Join the conversation students are evidently passionate about, take note from the likes of Goldsmith and Hull and find a way to leave your mark with your audience, without leaving it on the planet. Launch new green initiatives on your open days and campus events and make it interactive and engaging. That way user-generated content will naturally flood in, oozing authenticity, and students and influencers can become your advocate. 

If you need help getting your message out there to the student audience, get in touch.

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Article by

Eleana Davidson Native Author

Eleana Davidson

Senior Marketing Executive