How to Engage with Students at University Open Days
In this article, we look at how universities in the UK engage with and attract potential students at their open days.
When applying through UCAS, students are only allowed to select five universities they wish to attend. To shortlist from the 130 UK universities, students attend campus open days with their parents as well as viewing the universities websites and course curriculums.
To gain an insight into the thoughts of open day attendees, we interviewed our company director, Angela Wagstaff, who recently visited six campuses with her daughter, Katie, who will be starting at university September 2018. After attending the open days, they will need to decide which university to remove from Katie’s shortlist and which will be her top two options.
1) What are the key aspects you look for when visiting a university?
“As a parent, my primary concern is my daughter’s safety and that she has a good all-round university experience. This includes accommodation and employment opportunities within the university and local area to ensure that Katie is as independent as possible. After all, the transition will be a huge culture shock and a massive milestone in both of our lives.”
2) Out of all the university open days you attended, what impressed you the most?
“Firstly the universities that were well organised. Clearly signposted campuses were easier to get to and slick registration processes were far more productive than those that were chaotic, resulting in aggravated parents and embarrassed children. The positive attitudes of the student ambassadors, who were clearly distinguishable in brightly coloured hoodies, definitely improved our perspective, especially when they elaborated by and relating to their own experiences. This really allowed Katie to visualise her life at university.”
3) Was there anything all the universities did similarly?
“All the universities gave away goody bags. It was interesting to see how everyone reacted to their freebie. A lot of parents compared the quality of the bag to others they had received, commenting on the design or whether they preferred another university’s bag. One university gave away a promotional A5 notebook, the excitement generated by the students over a standard item was unbelievable! Another university had staff hand out branded USBs and printed stresballs which triggered engagement and conversation. Button badges were trending throughout the universities, with faculty and course information printed on them. These seemed to be very popular because they can be collected and also evoke a sense of belonging. Signs and banners were also used to direct us to where we needed to be such as printed roller banners, flags and gazebos.
4) How did each university utilise promotional products to attract potential students?
“Freebies generate a buzz and that vibe is what makes my daughter feel like she wants to go to that specific university. Attending an open day with Katie made me see merchandise differently and how universities use it to engage with students. People were going to different tables to pick up a giveaway they wanted and would spend ages talking about the subject in matter. Pens weren’t so much of a big hit, but everyone loved big bowls of rock sweets and other edible giveaways such as cakes, tea and coffee!”
5) In your opinion, which promotional product was the greatest influencer?
“One university gave away lots of brightly coloured stressballs and practical products and as a result, they were definitely the busiest out of the six universities we visited in terms of getting students to engage with them. My attention was instantly drawn to brightly coloured products such as balloons and Amerciano mugs with a quirky design – anything with the feel-good factor! There was one university who didn’t give anything away at all and not only did that create a very dull atmosphere, but a couple of students commented that they wouldn’t go there because there’s no giveaways.”
6) What would you improve about the open days you attended?
“I would like to see more organisation, especially when it comes to registering as it really sets the mood for the day. The universities with upbeat student ambassadors also really made an amazing impression on me, so better student briefs too!”
It is apparent that utilising promotional products correctly is at the forefront when it comes to engaging with potential students at university open days. For more information about how we can assist with your university merchandise, please give us a call on 01245382600.