Getting the Most from Your Postgraduate Recruitment Campaign

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All statistics in this article were taken from the HESA website – https://www.hesa.ac.uk/

Postgraduates are a core part of the university student landscape. 21% of undergraduates continue on to further education and postgraduate enrolment has seen a 5% increase in the UK over the past five years. A postgraduate student represents a key investment into academia for a university, and so student recruitment in this area is crucial.

It would be naive to assume you can recruit them the same way as undergraduate. So what do you need to take into consideration when targetting these students?

Targetting – Who are you promoting to?

One of the best things about online marketing is the level of targetting all platforms now offer. Whether it be search or social, you can segment your audience down to make sure your ads are being shown to the right people.

So who are the right people? We would definitely recommend using the age demographic. Due to the requirements for postgraduate study, its a fairly safe bet that most of your potential students will be over 21. However, you can go more specific than this if you want to. Don’t forget about mature students returning to studying mid-career as well. The HESA data for 2017/2018 found that whilst 35.6% of postgraduate students sat in the expected 21-24 age range, a surprising 39.6% of postgraduate students were 30+. A good starting point is always the demographics of your current postgraduate students, which you can use to inform your own targeting strategy.

Of course, there are lots of other criteria to look at for targeting, and it’s up to you to select what you think is most appropriate for the course in question. Postgraduate study, by its very nature, is more niche and specialised than its undergraduate equivalent so you can use this information to inform your targeting.

One final tip on targetting – don’t forget your international market. 54% of full-time postgraduate students came outside of the UK in 2017/2018 so by neglecting this in your campaign you could be cutting yourself from a huge pool of potential students.

Platforms – Where are you going to promote?

Digital marketing now encompasses a huge range of different platforms and formats, so its key to know which ones you are going to use and why. It’s easy to get blinded by choice and think you need to be running campaigns on every platform available. This, however, runs the risk of wasting valuable budget that may be more effective elsewhere. For the postgraduate demographic we would recommend a focus on platforms with older audiences such as LinkedIn and Facebook over flashy/trendy locations like SnapChat or Instagram. And as always, Search can be a hugely powerful tool, so long as you use it correctly.

Timing – When are you going to promote?

Good timing can make or break a student recruitment campaign. Students will start to consider their options as they come to the end of their studies, but this will be at different times depending on their course. Undergraduate programmes often finish at different times to a Master or MPhil programme. Students will also differ personally as to whether they want something lined up before their current course ends, or if they want to wait until after final exams are over before worrying about the next step. If you have any data on this already, it’s worth looking at when your university tends to get the bulk of its organic inquiries for postgraduate study and use this data to inform your student recruitment timeline.

It’s also worth stressing when students can and can’t apply to your courses. Undergraduate study in the UK is centralised by the UCAS process, but this is lacking for further study. This means each application process for each institution represents a whole host of new deadlines and forms that can be daunting. Make sure your application information and deadlines are clear so students know how long they have to consider before making a decision.

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