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Insights from the industry

A Morning at the BBC

A Morning at the BBC

Posted on June 26, 2019 by Daniel Farrell

On Friday the 21st June Educate & university marketing professionals from all over the country descended on New Broadcasting House. Together with the BBC we curated a day which took a look at all things international student recruitment and discussed what comes next after Brexit. We also took a look at how advertising through can help you engage with 185 millions users worldwide and become a vital part of your digital strategy

Below is a summary of the day and just a few key learnings we (and the attendees) have taken away from it

First up the BBC Education Editor Branwen Jeffries walked us through how Brexit is currently effecting international recruitment to the UK and what could possibly happen in the future. The initial polling stats may be concerning but she showed us there is plenty to be positive about! There has been huge investment in campus facilities (with the recent investment at The University of Oxford being a particular highlight) and the UK’s high cultural capital has the ability to supersede political uncertainty.

Branwen also took us on a journey of the intention to study in UK based on the 2018 British Council Research 18-34 year olds in the G20:

  • The UK is currently in 4th place for overall attractiveness – International student have still not recovered from the referendum shock
  • Marginal drop in intention to study from 17% to 16%
  • Intent to visit the UK in the future down from 37% to 31%
  • 2018/19 Russell Group EU Enrolments down 3% overall. Modest 1% up for undergrads but down 4% postgrads

Next up Mark Garratt from The University of Bradford talked about the individual challenges they face when recruiting internationally. The market is buoyant but as it stands the UK’s share increase is disappointingly low. This is largely due to the fact that there isn’t a joined up plan to hit the governments lofty new international student targets. Even though having set a target itself is a positive step from the government. There’s also the negative effect Brexit is currently having on a student’s decision making and let’s not forget the negative impact changes to the post study work visa will have. With the plan Bradford has put together though (comprising of content marketing, alumni contributions and regional event participation) they have proved that a well thought out and relevant strategy leads to growth in a turbulent market. Their 8% increase in UG applications and 26% increase in PG prove this.

Marks key recommendations for a successful strategy include:

  • Having the skills where they are needed – Using local expertise in key markets
  • Putting the student at the heart of the system – Research student decision making, ensure appropriate touch points are built into that journey
  • Being in the right places doesn’t mean being everywhere – Selecting key markets
  • Making data driven investments – Identify opportunities
  • Redefining a global message
  • Using Student created Marketing content

This lead nicely to the panel discussion we had just before the break where 3 industry experts flexed their education muscles and talked up why we need to be positive about the future of international recruitment. Andrew Hargreaves, the founder of DataHE, told us that we shouldn’t let the last 10 years influence our attitude to the next 10 years. The 18 year old population is about to hit a huge period of growth meaning the opportunities are endless. That’s not even taking in to account the huge student population in China that is just waiting to be tapped in to. With the right data strategy any university can effectively target the right market for them and make sure their offering is communicated in the right way

Finally in the afternoon we looked at why the BBC is best placed to help universities with their student recruitment strategy. The BBC audience is a global one and Dr Hamish McPharlin, Head of BBC Insights, talked us through why they are the perfect fit for your UG & PG courses. They’re affluent, tech savvy, globally minded and 1 in 3 of them would like to live & work abroad. He also described the Higher Education Intenders audience that the BBC have. Who are Higher education intenders on BBC? A dynamic, motivated and curious audience. They care about their mind and body. They care about their community & the world, and believe in their ability to improve it. & they come to us (BBC) for knowledge, ideas and inspiration.

We also had a short talk from Richard Fisher, a Managing Editor of & BBC Global News. He walked us through the various features and contextually relevant opportunities for educational institutions to sponsor various segments of the BBC. These included engineering, technology & business. All 3 of the segments are visited by the Higher Education Intenders audience and allow for sponsors to engage with a pool of potential students in a truly unique way

For a more detailed look at the day please check out #EducateatBBC on Twitter

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