Attracting a diverse and broad range of students is one of the top priorities for most universities and higher education institutes.
Institutions are always looking for ways to bring in students from around the world, and in our recent panel discussion, 'How can higher education providers realistically present diversity in their marketing', we explored exactly how they are tackling the challenge.
Led by George Olesen, CEO at The Ambassador Platform, the line-up was top-notch: it included Customer Success Manager Ciara McNally, NCUK Marketing Manager Helena Torre-Sevillano, Royal College of Art Marketing Manager Jeroen van Dijk, and student ambassadors Bahana and Nikki.
The deep dive delved into the experiences of staff and students, exploring the challenges of marketing to a diverse student base from a recruitment perspective, and navigating the experience of diversity in London and the support they could access from a student viewpoint.
The student perspective on diversity
Bahana and Nikki, two international students in London, shared their experiences with moving overseas and the challenges they faced in building a picture of their future in a new city.
With no way to talk directly to current students, they turned to social media to find information, with Bahana using LinkedIn to connect with other Indian students in London, and Nikki turning to Instagram to connect with friends who had experienced the city.
It wasn't easy for them to find valuable connections and information on traditional social platforms, especially on key issues such as housing, cost of living, and the international student experience.
When asked about diversity in higher education, Nikki emphasized the importance of seeing someone who looks like you within the faculty during the application process, something that made her decide to become an ambassador herself. Bahana's perspective on diversity highlighted the need for collaboration and learning from each other.
Positioning marketing to attract a diverse student base
Marketing to a diverse, global student base is a tricky (but not impossible!) business.
Helena from NCUK believes that the key to success is understanding your audience on a regional level, and whether issues like using a different language might become a barrier.
That's where The Ambassador Platform comes in handy: with ambassadors from all over the world, she could get insights into what prospective students are really looking for (and in turn, build well-segmented and effective marketing campaigns that cater to the needs of the students).
Jeroen from RCA shared this view, adding that it's all about breaking down your audience into smaller segments.
The Ambassador Platform provides valuable insights into the most common concerns and queries from students from different regions. For instance, Indian students may be more interested in career opportunities and progression, while American students might focus more on what life is like in London, and what scholarships are available. Understanding these nuances can help any recruitment team improve its marketing communications and create content that resonates with its audience.
So, if you're looking to attract a diverse student base, it's time to start thinking regionally!
Building an authentic and brand-focused ambassador team
According to Helena and Jeroen, transparency, honesty, and trust are essential for building a strong team of ambassadors. Giving them the freedom to communicate openly and support prospective students with their queries is crucial.
This approach ensures that the student ambassadors can offer an authentic perspective on life in London or their new home, leaving administrative and application-based queries to staff ambassadors.
Ciara from The Ambassador Platform also shared a fantastic example from the University of York's Black Access Programme. The programme empowers black students to take control of their communications and share their unique experiences with prospective students.
By giving students the reins and some guidance, universities can build a powerful and authentic ambassador program that resonates with prospective students on an individual basis.
What drives students to become ambassadors
To attract and support student ambassadors, you need to know what motivates them to take on this important role. According to Nikki and Bahana, access to The Ambassador Platform was a key factor in their decision to become ambassadors.
With the platform's user-friendly interface, ambassadors can easily connect with and help prospective students from their phones, making it a convenient and rewarding way to give back to their communities.
Both Nikki and Bahana stressed the importance of having access to ambassadors with similar backgrounds and experiences, something that can be very hard to find online.
The Ambassador Platform offers a solution to this problem, allowing students to connect with peers who have already navigated the challenges of studying in a new country. By understanding these motivations and providing the necessary support, universities can recruit and retain a diverse and engaged group of student ambassadors.
Top tips for driving diversity with The Ambassador Platform
To bring everything together, Ciara emphasised the importance of segmentation in marketing and promoting diversity, echoing Helena and Jeroen's thoughts. She highlighted that proper segmentation enables institutions to connect students with ambassadors who have first-hand experience of the country they are considering studying in.
By matching students and ambassadors by region, course choice, or other relevant factors, institutions can build confidence in prospective students and attract them to their institution.
The Ambassador Platform allows you to connect your ambassadors with prospective students all over the world. Your institution can build a community around the platform and help future students build up an authentic picture of what life will be like when they come to your university.
The platform can also feed directly into your marketing campaigns and allow you to create properly segmented content to attract students from regions around the world. Get in touch today to find out more and to book a demo with our team.
If you're not currently using the platform why not get in touch to find out more, we'd love to hear from you!
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