Since the announcement of Theresa May's snap election, over two million people have registered to vote, conflicting opinion polls have taken over the internet, and the Great British media have gone to town in outlining, praising and scrutinising key policies from various party manifestos.
Education always plays a key role in a party's election campaign. However, with Labour making big promises, the Conservatives passing the Education and Research Bill, and more registered young voters than ever before; Higher Education is going to be even more of a hot topic. So, regardless of who moves into Number 10 on June 9th, we've outlined how a few proposed policies might impact your Institution's student recruitment strategy.
In the Labour party manifesto, Jeremy Corbyn revealed a plan to deliver free Higher Education to everyone. Great, surely free education will attract more prospective students? True, although with Universities offering more courses than ever and plenty of FE Colleges now offering HE programmes, the competition is going to be on. So, make sure that your Institution is always a student's first choice. Brand awareness campaigns, which run throughout the year, are ideal for ensuring that your University's name is known to a wide range of prospective students.
The Conservative party believes that Higher Education should not be state funded. Under the Education and Research Bill, Universities could be given the opportunity to charge even higher fees each year. If your Institution falls into this category, then your marketing team needs to be doing all it can to ensure prospective students are not put off by the costs. Use compelling messaging, combined with an innovative concept to prove that your University is worth the price.Studies have shown that 63% of attendees remember stories, while a mere 5% remember statistics.
The Conservative government wants to tighten the international student visa process. This would make it harder for those wanting to study in the UK, as well as international graduates. Other political parties are concerned that tougher visa requirements, combined with Brexit, will make the UK an unattractive study destination. But, with uncertainty about international student movement in America, your UK university needs to be marketing itself as a friendly alternative; it might help you compete with Canada and other countries in Europe.
Your Institution should run campaigns, targeted to international students letting them know they are welcome to study with you. Here is an example of a campaign we ran with the University of Hull, promoting their international offering to overseas students, after Brexit.
You might want to offer a visa application advice service and run a series of adverts showing the support you can give to international students. Who knows, this could be the reason they enrol at your institution over a competitor.
The Education and Research Bill, introduced by the Conservative government, wants to see universities working alongside nearby schools, as part of numerous widening participation projects. Essentially, an Institution would help a nearby College, School or Academy operate to a certain standard by providing resources.
Your marketing team can use this opportunity to reach out to new students, who might be looking to apply to university in the future. Why not target students from widening participation backgrounds, showing your diversity and equality values? Consider building a bespoke landing page, which will allow you to collect valuable data on this demographic; this intelligence will become useful in your future recruitment campaigns. Have you monitored any key social media influencers? There might some influential alumni from your institution who were once students from widening participation backgrounds. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these influencers to help promote your University to prospective students.
While the outcome of the General Election has not yet been announced, it's safe to say that institutions will have to adapt their marketing plans and work closely with the new government to stay on top of their recruitment targets. Get in touch with Net Natives to discuss your marketing strategy.