For many hopeful undergrads researching which university to apply for, travel costs for open events are becoming increasingly prohibitive.
With so much effort and money spent on widening participation schemes and student recruitment, just how open are your open days when so many prospective students simply cannot afford to attend?
Travel costs are a barrier that prevents students from fulfilling their further education dreams. Something that is often swept up and lost amongst all the chaos of university applications. Oh, and we know what you're thinking. But open days are free?
Yes. Until you factor in the travel costs. A prospective student travelling from the South West to the north of England would be looking at a train ticket of upwards of £150, not to mention the cost of overnight stays. For young adults reliant on parents or low paying part-time jobs, this is an indisputable problem for many families.
The BBC recently interviewed a number of A-level students, who commented on the unfairness of these costs and how making ‘blind’ decisions on universities will only lead to regrets. As a result, many desired universities and opportunities are simply taken off the table because of their expensive travel connections.
We know open days are an important factor for students when deciding enrollment, with the National Clearing Survey citing that 88% said that going to an open day influenced their final decision. And so, with open days currently not being accessible for everyone, what is the solution?
There are many. A handful of universities in the country now offer travel reimbursements which are available for attendees that have travelled over a certain distance from their homes. Going a step further, some institutions now also provide prospective students and parents free accommodation for those long travel days that need an overnight stay. And families value this. Working with one institution on their summer open day campaign, Natives found that the ads that publicised this helping hand were the best performing ads of the entire campaign.
Another way to allow students to explore your campus is by letting someone they trust lead the tour. And by that, we mean influencers, content creators and Study Tubers. We've spoken about this before, but there are some excellent examples from the likes of Eve Cornwell and Unjaded Jade. Both have created engaging and authentic videos based around their open day experiences that created a connection between the university brand and an audience in a way that the institutions would have been unable to do otherwise.
Many universities are working hard to widen access, and UK public transport companies are doing more to try and help address the problem. But the question of the moment is how open are your open days? It's time to put your university back on the table and look at the different ways to open your doors for many that cannot afford even to consider you.
If you haven’t already, don’t forget to download our free guide for student specialist marketers looking to smash their open day targets. If you would like to beat your open day targets or reach a new audience, then get in touch.