Guest blog: NCUK's new normal – getting a new perspective
To kick-start a new series of guest blog posts reflecting on the new normal for student recruitment professionals, NCUK's marketing Executive Sam Rogers tells us what he and his colleagues have learned from a rollercoaster year.
With the tumultuous year that’s taken place, the Higher Education system has had to quickly adapt in order to maintain a sense of consistency and fluid progression, and support students who are continuing their study journeys.
NCUK has supported students for over 30 years by providing quality qualifications that, upon successful completion, guarantee access to universities worldwide. With our Study Centres being located in over 35 countries, it’s been entirely necessary for us to adjust our way of working in order for us to not only help current students, but also collaborate in different ways to recruit for the newest academic year.
NCUK’s shift to digital and online learning was swift, in large part thanks to the dedication and hard work from our partners.
We introduced webinars showcasing NCUK Universities to our Study Centres in April and May, ensuring continuity and highlighting that progression to university was still entirely possible for our current students.
Alongside a larger number of webinars, we have developed the number of communications that are shared with current and prospective students, with many focusing on key topics such as university applications, mental health, study locations etc. Information on the NCUK website is constantly being added and edited in order to provide students with as much information as possible, with the COVID-19 pandemic giving us a different idea on what students may be looking for; whether that’s the response from universities, getting study ready, to finding new ways to communicate with us.
As, normally, NCUK staff would regularly travel to our Study Centres around the world to support them with conversion and recruitment events, we have had to look at different approaches on how to best reach large numbers of students at one time. It was imperative that we didn’t rush to put a larger event together until we could be sure that we would find a platform that was beneficial for all our key stakeholders.
With that being said, we are pleased to have started work on these larger scale online events, starting with the first NCUK University Global Fair which took place on Thursday 12 November. This fair, which saw current and prospective NCUK students attend, was a brilliant way for students to find out more about the NCUK Universities through dedicated sessions led by university and NCUK staff, booths that included videos along with useful links and documents, as well as the option to speak with university staff members one-to-one.
With over 1,000 registrations, it was a great start to this new initiative, and we will be looking to utilise this with future fairs - as well as smaller scale events through this dedicated platform.
The Access Platform (TAP) continues to be a wonderful source of information for current and prospective students. NCUK’s Ambassadors recognise the difficult year that it’s been, and so production of informative and fun content - whether that’s through videos, images, or FAQs - has risen. This is undoubtedly helpful, especially as many students would prefer to find out about information via their peers.
Over the last year we have also added a WhatsApp number to our website - which students can use to communicate with us - as well as a brand new online chat function that will allow students to instantly speak to an NCUK member of staff, again showcasing NCUK as a source of information and a way in which students can ‘Get There’ and achieve their dream.
Moving forwards, we are keen to continue looking at different ways in which we can promote NCUK and work with our Study Centres to support students through their studies to university as well as recruit for intakes throughout 2021.
Our view of NCUK’s new normal is to actively work together with digital functions to achieve as best results as possible so that, once the world returns to something resembling a pre-COVID environment, we can amplify our way of working - no matter if it’s in-person or online. NCUK is the best option for international students wanting to gain their university degree.
I would like to end by sharing a positive message from our CEO, Professor John Brewer who commented about the work and hardships that our students overcame this year after they successfully completed their qualifications.
He said: “It is a reminder that normality does still exist, and that the work that we do for our students, and for our Partners, is critical and can transform lives and deliver opportunities that many young people would otherwise not have had.”
Sam Rogers is a Marketing Executive at NCUK where he supports with content creation, communications to key stakeholders, providing partners globally with marketing support and leading the NCUK Ambassador scheme via TAP.