Right now many hungover students have already started their first term at their respective universities. Considering our studio is just around the corner from the University of Warwick & Coventry University, one of the things new students do when looking at universities is check the ranking tables. Now probably the most popular ranking table is The Guardian University League Table, which judges and ranks university against a number of areas, as The Guardian breaks down the categories;
1. Ranking according to the Guardian formula
2. Name of institution
3. The Guardian score/100 is an exclusive rating of excellence based on a combination of all the other factors
4. Course satisfaction is the percentage of final-year students satisfied with overall quality, based on the National Student Survey (NSS)
5. The teaching quality score is the percentage of final-year students satisfied with the teaching they received, based on the NSS
6. The feedback score is the percentage of final-years satisfied with feedback and assessment by lecturers, based on the NSS
7. Staff-student ratio is the number of students per member of teaching staff
8. Spend is the amount of money spent on each student, given as a rating out of 10
9. Average entry tariff means the typical Ucas scores of students currently studying in that department
10. The value-added score compares students’ individual degree results with their entry qualifications, to show how effective the teaching is. It is given as a rating out of 10
11. The career score is the percentage of graduates who find graduate-level jobs, or are studying further, within six months of graduation
So what does this have to do with advertising? If you’ve noticed a lot more universities seem to be advertising more than usual. You’ll see more ads on buses, you’ll see them on the TV, you’ll see more press releases and events sponsored by them…why? Visibility. The more people see them and their activities, the more interest the universities generate. Because ultimately what do these universities need to keep running? Students.
And when you remember the rise in higher education tuition fees, the number of people applying to university dropped (to be expected). So universities have to do what they can now to put themselves out there and compete, essentially against each other. It may be in the form of TV commercials, press, buildings, exchange programs, billboards, word of mouth, sponsorship, web articles, events & initiative programs…I mean really, the list of possibilities is almost endless. If we look at the University of Warwick, you’ll see that they are already ranked in the Top 10 universities in the UK. With an illustrious alumni, capable teaching staff, great facilities and a thriving student populace. The university is currently undergoing new construction, as a long term solution to making their campus better. Fact is, a university like Warwick probably would need that much advertising as compared to say Coventry University, BCU or DMU. Because they are one of the best, they will always have students applying. But a little advertising doesn’t hurt. (Considering the student populace at Warwick seems so HUGE this year, swarming the campus and local buses everyday means something must be working!)
Coventry University over the years has been building up its reputation as a cool destination for students and it seems to still be keeping pace. It has broken into the Top 30 universities this year for the first time ever (last year it was at no. 33). Last year it was voted ‘Modern University of the Year’ according to the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2014 (and still is). And has also been voted this year best in the UK for the percentage of final-year students satisfied with feedback and assessment by lecturers. It’s also on top in the Midlands with the highest student percentage satisfied with teaching quality. You’ll see adverts for Cov Uni all over the city centre, not just inside of Coventry either. I remember back in 2011 I was on the underground tube in Singapore and I saw an advert for Cov Uni and I remember thinking “What the….Cov Uni’s gone international!”
So yes, I do believe advertising and design played in big part in these universities successions. Even Coventry University is also rated best in the country for film production and photography, including BA (Hons) Photography and BA (Hons) Illustration & Animation. How wonderfully ironic?
A previous article by The Guardian newspaper entitled “From freshers to focus groups: how universities are learning to advertise” is a worthwhile read into how universities have been trying to ‘court’ their students and promote their institutions.