Bridging the gap – Hannah Morrish about connecting students and government

On Wednesday 14th November we welcomed government representatives to join us at our first ever Bridging the Gap in London.

We came together to share insights into the minds and behaviour of young people with the objective to bridge the gap between students and government.

Hannah Morrish, Student Choice and Higher Education Lead at TSR, took attendees on a journey through our community and gave insights into what matters most to young people.

A PLATFORM FOR DIALOGUE

“The Student Room is a window into the student world [and] student life. So, anything a young person is going through is talked about on-site.”. Hannah emphasised how the anonymous nature of the site supports authenticity, users can have open and honest conversation and make informed and impartial life decisions with the guidance of peers and trusted advisors.

She further explains how the community can sometimes seed relevant discussions but it’s ultimately our users that decide what’s worth debating. Those taking part in the conversation can be segmented by our personas, Hannah highlighted the impotance of two groups: the “magpies”, those looking for specific information to select what matters to them and the “bumblebees”, those that pollinate threads and forums by getting involved in conversations all over the site, maintaining our healthy and engaged community.

DROWNING IN INFORMATION, STARVING FOR WISDOM

Young people are exposed to vast amounts of information. Notorious for their shorter attention spans and constant competing priorities, how can they be expected to work their way through a minefield of data, advice and information every day? The internet makes all of this easily accessible, but Hannah believes someone to guide students through this is missing. She commented:

“If we start listening and reply in their language, if we start supporting them, we will gain their trust, so they begin to listen to the important messages coming from government which will then bridge the gap.”

POLLS – THE ULTIMATE WINDOW

Hannah ran through a mixture of polls on-site over the last years to demonstrate which key themes resonate with our student audience. Brexit, the general election and sexual health are all things our community felt strongly about, other key findings included:

  • Poor provision of sex education at schools
  • Being happy is the biggest long-term motivator for students
  • Young people feel very much in charge of their pathway decisions
  • Ongoing debates about cost and value of education in the UK
  • General election polls predicted high percentage of Labour votes from young people

We know young people talk and care about the big issues they have to face and The Student Room is a space where can do this in a safe, anonymous and trusted environment.

BRIDGING THE GAP

The Student Room is the natural platform for young people to engage in open dialogue with their peers. If authorities manage to listen and encourage the conversation, that’s when you can have a powerful impact on the decisions and lives of young people, whether it’s about education, life around learning or government legislation.

If you want to find out more about our work with government and how you can get involved, have a look here. The second Bridging the Gap will take part on the morning of the 7th February 2019 in London, sign up here to secure your space.