Times are changing. Time to adapt.

Back

21 Aug 2018

Penna Education, Higher Education

Times are changing. Time to adapt.

There’s been a shift in the higher education market. The power has moved from the hands of universities to the hands of students. It’s a big change. So how has this happened? And what does it mean?

In 2017, applications dropped by 5% from UK students, and by 7% from EU students. It’s a significant decline. And it means there’s a smaller pool of future students for higher education institutions. Plus, 80% of applicants are receiving all 5 offers and many of those are unconditional. So it’s great news for students, but bad news for universities. 

There’s more pressure than ever to attract and retain applicants over the entire cycle, so we need to provide a consistent marketing approach that establishes and reinforces your brand. It’s a big opportunity to make a big change. 

Students are constantly being met with bland adverts telling them to “apply now”, or to “book your open day here” without any context or reasoning. These messages tend not to consider the audience needs or user journey, and fail to differentiate from other competitors.


A creative campaign needs to excite our audience, show off the unique sells of an organisation and persuade them to apply. But one advert alone will not do this. So a campaign needs to reflect the applicant needs as they go through their decision-making journey; informing, engaging and inspiring at different times, through different platforms. It’s not about telling the audience what to do, it’s about helping them to make the right decision.

From generic ‘the benefits of higher education’ content to specific advice to parents on how not to embarrass their child at an Open Day, adverts that are informative can give the audience the information they need whilst also reinforcing your brand values.

So there’s no doubt about it – universities are finding it tougher to attract interest, let alone cherry pick talent. But there’s a simple solution. We need to create a useful, exciting student journey, and we need to start straight away.

If you’d like a fresh look at your advert messages and content, contact Andrew Collins on 07712545397 or email Andrew.Collins@penna.com