Hello, Dundee calling – how one University reached a global student pool


24 Jan 2020

Hello, Dundee calling – how one University reached a global student pool

How does a university on Scotland's east coast reach potential students in Canada, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Nigeria and the USA? This International Education Day we lift the lid on The University of Dundee’s worldwide student attraction campaign. Here's what it takes to inspire international interest.

The merits of an international education are hard to argue with. Exposure to different cultures, backgrounds and knowledge bases create rich and rewarding learning experiences for students. It can also open them up to greater employability opportunities after graduation. It’s great for the university too. Revenue from international fees play a positive part, with international students estimated to add £22.6 billion to the UK economy over the course of their studies. But it’s also about developing global brand awareness; helping cultivate important relationships with overseas alumni, academic talent and businesses.

For the University of Dundee, they knew they had a lot to offer students from countries outside the UK. The difficulty the University faced was reaching the vast pool of potential student talent across the world.

Dundee’s Offer:

Key to attraction was selling the very best parts of Dundee life. Marketing and Communications Manager at the University, Ailie Ferrari, says it’s about making your offer as relevant to the people you’re trying to talk to as possible;

“We have targeted relevant messaging to users by education level. For instance, we could reassure international students that Dundee is one of the most affordable parts of the UK, and highlighted to postgraduate students our Gold rating for teaching quality and our ranking as a Top 30 UK University. This targeted approach helped connect students from around the world to the information they needed to make the choice to come to the University of Dundee, which they are doing in record numbers.” 

The university had plenty of accolades to build on when fostering an international reputation – including being named as Scottish University of the Year 2016 - 2017. Ailie notes;         

“Dundee is one of the best places in the UK to be a student. We are University of the Year 2020 for Student Experience (The Times & Sunday Times Good University Guide) and rated very highly in the National Student Survey and the International Student Barometer. That’s a message we want to share with students around the world.” 

Getting the message out:

So how did Dundee, working with Penna, get their international sales pitch seen by potential undergraduates and postgraduates? 

Part of the strategy was, as Ailie notes;

“Recognising that `international students’ is a term that covers people from many different cultures and countries, around 150 of which are represented on campus here, we developed content that included student stories from different course areas and from a variety of regions, talking about their experience of Dundee.”

The international office and School of Business combined forces to enable increased overall spend and, to maximise its impact, we planned a campaign with bursts on Google and Facebook. These were timed to the lead up to various in-country recruitment events, targeting both potential students and their key influencers over a seven-month period.

In addition, we deployed programmatic advertising to reach specific target groups and placed a variety of advertisements, profiles, listings and banners on sites including Masters Compare, StudyPortals and the Complete University Guide. 

And the results?

The mix of media meant that Dundee was able to reach a number of different audience segments. This included those actively searching for opportunities (for example, through paid search) as well as the more passive, but highly targeted audiences (through programmatic and social media). The campaign generated over 2,000 qualified enquiries from prospective international students.

Want international exposure for your institution?  

Our Penna Education consultants deliver student marketing and attraction, creative branding design services and staff recruitment to our client base of over 70 UK institutions. Most of our education clients are UK universities or business schools; some are FE colleges, schools or private higher education providers. 

Contact Jane.Johns@Penna.com or Oona.Venermo@penna.com for more information.