Universities are having to ‘up their game’ in an increasingly competitive market place. They need to justify their existence and promote themselves in order to survive. Basically, only the best will thrive.

For many potential UK students it’s a balancing act. With University Tuition fees having risen to up to £9,000 pa, many students are now looking at value for money and post graduate job prospects to justify their application. There is also currently a large push by government to promote the benefits of alternatives to a university qualification – in particular the Apprenticeship Scheme. This is having an impact on young people’s choices when they are considering what to do when they finish school.

In addition, it has been said that the UK’s debate on immigration risks damaging the recruitment of overseas students. This is a valuable source of income for many universities, particularly those in London, and therefore effective communication that offers honest advice and help for overseas students is critical.

Is your brand ready for this new, more commercially-aware (and consequently choosey) student? Here’s 12 questions to get you started:

1.    Are you a student’s first-choice institution, or a safe second choice?
2.    Is your brand identity distinct and memorable? Ask a stranger.
3.    Do you / does your team understand what your institution is – and is not?
4.    Do you have a short, memorable mission, vision, and core values statements?
5.    Can your team remember your corporate values, unprompted, and explain how they live them?
6.    Do all of your promotional materials communicate your institution’s educational philosophy?
7.    Do you have, and communicate, a culture that attracts talent?
8.    Can you demonstrate that there is something different and authentic about your institution?
9.    Do your visitors feel that there is something special about your campus?
10.  Do they share that feeling with others?
11.  Can visitors recount one special thing that your institution has achieved?
12.  Do you think your team can solve these issues without expert help?

In 2014/15, most UK universities’ student recruitment flatlined. In fact, some institutions actually saw numbers fall by up to 2%. In that same year, Bell helped a now iconic university increase theirs by a massive 21%. In addition, it’s now voted, by young people, as being in the top-ten UK university brands. Not surprisingly, they’ve also won several awards as a result. If you’d like to know how, please contact us.

In the meantime, ask yourself the above questions about your university or college brand – they could be the key to your future success as an institution.

Ian Allison
Strategy & Creative Director