Change within HE and at The Student Room in the past 3 years

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Back in 2008, in my role as Student Room Marketing Director, I was asked to speak at the very first Discovering Futures event. Last week I returned to speak at the 2011 event and took the opportunity in my presentation to observe the changes that have happened within HE, to TSR and to look to the future.
Part 1 of 3

Once upon a time in HE land…

The deligates were restless - Case Conference 2008


In 2008 the Higher Education sector had quite different challenges:

  • There was a focus on UG recruitment with newer institutes competing to fill their courses
  • More established universities and the Russell group had little reason to advertise for UK students.
  • The Labour government was looking to get 50 % of young people to university and students were being pushed to go, there we’re very clear alternatives.
  • Growing international student intake was financially important for universities
  • Clearing was an important time for students and some unis
  • Some unis were being penalized for taking too many students
  • Widening participation was being pushed but was it lip service?

Marketing practices were very different then:

  • Print was still widely used to promote to students
  • Those that did use the web used it in a similar way as they had always used print – display advertising
  • It was before Facebook and Twitter exploded in popularity
  • The prospectus was still the jewel in the crown of some universities marketing comms

Back then The Student Room was like the smart kid in the class that showed massive potential:

  • It was a well kept secret with almost a cult following among students
  • It wasn’t the most attractive site on the web but it had a really BIG personality
  • 3 of us worked full time behind the scenes with a team of about 15 passionate volunteer moderators
  • 400, 000 unique users per month about 100,000 members.
  • At the 2008 Discovering Futures event I spoke of my plans to give TSR a facelift and brand identity
  • My main leave behind at the time was for university marketers to visit the site and listen to what students where saying about them.

This was a hint of the future insight and engagement opportunities that universities now gain from social media.

This is part 1 of 3 – To read the second and 3rd parts of the presentation visit the blog links below:

Part 2 – HE marketing & TSR today

Part 3 – What next for HE marketing & TSR


The full presentation is available for download
Changes in HE and the impact on The Student Room and university Marketer – june 2011