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National Conference 2023 Resources

National Conference 2023 was packed with insightful sessions to support our members. Find all the resources from the sessions that you attended, or that you missed below.

To download the session presentation, click on the image of the presentation. Alternatively, you can download the reporter notes for an overview of the session.

*Please note – due to the interactive nature of some sessions, there is no presentation.

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Student Recruitment

Postgraduate (Home) Student Recruitment and AdmissionsEmma Price, University of Birmingham

An introduction to Postgraduate Taught student recruitment, with a focus on Home recruitment. We will consider some of the current recruitment challenges and how we can engage with prospective students. We will also explore the differences in the postgraduate admissions process compared to undergraduate processing.

Reporter notes

Adapting to change: What we learnt from 5 years of integrated undergraduate conversion campaignsJackie Thompson and Sarah Colegrove, University of Edinburgh

The university year may well be cyclical, but that doesn’t mean that nothing changes. In the last decade, undergraduate recruitment marketing has evolved at pace. Shifts in the external landscape, from rising costs to changing demographics, coupled with innovations in the way we create and deliver content and events, mean that HE campaigns have had to adapt and innovate in order to continue to connect to their audiences.

Join the University of Edinburgh as we share the five-year evolution of an annual undergraduate conversion campaign. Find out what we learnt about how to engage with applicants as we adapted to a changing internal and external environment, and help us explore further ways to innovate as we envision what undergraduate conversion might look like in five years’ time.

Reporter notes

Recruitment and marketing for challenging course areasCaitlin Clifford, University of Wolverhampton and Charlotte Renwick, Leeds Beckett University Student Recruitment

Every recruitment cycle, there will always be courses that have challenges in generating interest, applications and ultimately enrolments. So what can we do about it? This session provides an overview of how we can be pro-active to be reactive and map out interventions across the student recruitment funnel. It was also create an opportunity to share best practice between colleagues.

Reporter notes

Enhancing UCAS events for students who are from disadvantaged backgrounds without clear pathwaysAimee Okafor & David Penney, Kathryn Mead, Ellie Rowley, HELOA UCAS working group

Combined HELOA & UCAS workshop to identify opportunities to enhance UCAS events for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Reporter notes

How to level up student engagement in the ever-changing higher education landscape!Chris Gibson, Gecko

Students have increasingly high expectations when it comes to their communication with universities. They want instant answers, seamless processes, and the kind of end-to-end digital experience that builds confidence and inspires them to act and engage at a deeper level.

The reality is that many universities aren’t consistently delivering timely, relevant student communications, leaving prospective and current students frustrated and unfulfilled. And if the student experience is sub-par, they’ll simply look elsewhere.

Reporter notes

Widening Participation

Black Access: A Student Collaboration to Develop and Deliver programmes for Black StudentsAndrew Hunter, Laura Whitelock and Soul Ferguson, University of York

This session is designed to introduce practitioners to Black Access. The session will explore why there is a need in devising a programme solely for students of an ethnic minority background with students sharing their experiences of being Black at university but also their experience of developing a programme such as Black Access. The workshop then will cover key focuses and themes of Black Access in terms of how the programme is developed and delivered, ensuring student voice is authentic throughout the programme. The workshop will all demonstrate how a programme can balance student voice/leadership with the universities and WP teams ensuring they are playing their part as an ally.

Reporter notes

Primary Outreach ProvisionAaron Mace and Abi Pritch-Williams, University of Derby and University of Nottingham

This session will focus on the below elements of planning and delivering primary outreach provision: Why work with primary age students/what does the research tell us? Which schools do we work with? What is different about arranging primary outreach? How do we evaluate? What programmes do we run?

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Minecraft and Autism: How To Use A Video Game for Outreach ProjectsFreya Morris, Cardiff University

Learn how Cardiff University’s Discovery Project uses Minecraft as a tool to help autistic young people prepare for university life.

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Community and Family Events in a WP contextKrishna Maroo and Gagandeep Chaggar, University of West London

During this session, UWL’s Outreach Team and external collaborators will explore and discuss why collaboration in the community is key to delivering dynamic outreach programmes that can lead to long-lasting change. Participants will hear about a variety of projects and some examples of best practice, and leave with lots of ideas to take this work forward in their own settings.

Reporter notes

Engaging with Alternative Educational ProvisionDr Alex Blower and Kate Venables, Arts University Bournemouth 

This interactive workshop session will explore alternative sites of engagement for university outreach activity. Using a pilot project run by Arts University Bournemouth with providers of Alternative Education Provision as a case study, the session will pose a challenge practitioners. It will offer a provocation to not only broaden the reach of widening participation activity, but to do so in a way which is meaningful and equitable for the young people who may participate.

Reporter notes

Student Recruitment and Widening Participation

Ideas and creative ways to make workshops engaging for WP and Outreach* – Liam Norton and Kayleigh Lampard, Coventry University

Ideas and creative ways to make workshops engaging and interactive for WP and Outreach. Let’s share ideas on how we can leave a positive impression of HE. There’s no sitting down in this workshop as we explore exciting new ice breakers and activities using a wide range of equipment and props. Ignite your creative thinking to get young people excited about their future prospects. 

Reporter notes

Academic Panel* – Helen Merlane – Northumbria University, Rachel Avery – Durham University, David Knapton – University of Sunderland, Stephanie Jong – University of East Anglia, Nick Cook – Newcastle University

Across many Student Recruitment and Widening Participation projects, we work with a multitude of academic colleagues and we know this can look different depending on your project and institution size. In this session, we’ll have a range of academics from across different universities to form this interactive panel. This is your chance to ask questions and find out top tips for working together across recruitment, WP and marketing.

Reporter notes

School and College Targeting with Unifrog* – Freddie Knaggs, Unifrog

In this interactive session, we explore the use of data to find and engage with the right schools/colleges during the recruitment cycle. We’ll take a deep-dive into Unifrog’s pre-application trends, taking learnings from the university research of 200,000+ UK sixth-formers over the past year. We’ll identify how planning windows and student preferences vary around the country, and highlight best practice school engagement tips from some of our leading university partners.

Reporter notes

Qualifications ReformRia Bhatta, Pearson

This session aims to give you an overview of the latest updates in relation to the Level 3 Reform, focusing on vocational provision for 16-19 year olds, including BTECs. It will be delivered by Ria Bhatta, Head of Stakeholder Engagement at Pearson.

Reporter notes

Building and encouraging teams engaged in the sectorEdit Liebhardt and Sarah Whitaker, University of Reading & University of Westminster

More and more universities are setting up regional teams. Depending on the area covered, distance from home institutions and budget available to the team, it can be increasingly difficult to make sure these teams are cohesive, well looked after and effective. In this session we will discuss the most important practices we have found to keep our regional teams happy and working well and workshop with you methods that might fit your team the best. 

Reporter notes


Why Open Days will be three days long: a look at the hybrid futureRevolution Viewing & Carla Banks, UCLan

Some forward-thinking universities have started successfully extending their campus events to an online audience before and after, maximising their opportunity to reach and engage with prospective students.

In this session, Tom Greveson (CEO of Revolution Viewing) explores this new trend, how it’s working for the universities who are doing it and why a hybrid approach should be an essential part of university marketing strategy going forward. We’ll look at data from real university websites before and after physical events, lifting the lid on user behaviour and show you how to make sure you’re serving your website visitors the right content at the right time.

Reporter notes

How to ace Student Recruitment on social in 2023Hesham & Lewis, University of Gloucestershire

The high usage and easy accessibility of social media in the 15- to 25-year-old demographic makes the channel an ideal way to communicate on a large scale, build and manage a positive culture and reputation, and ultimately, increase interest and enrolments.

So, how are prospective students using social media in their college search and what do they want to see from a higher education institution’s social media page?

Reporter notes

Lessons from the Brand Police (the authority on authenticity)Rebecca Hollington, University College Birmingham

Learn all about the importance of your institutional brand from visual representation to essence and developing your brand story. Delegates will develop an understanding of key components of a strong brand and their crucial role in strengthening brand authenticity, as well as how they can use the principles of business branding in developing their own personal brand identity.

Reporter notes

Insight and Impact: Multi-channel Marketing* – Waterfall 

Award-winning education marketing agency Waterfall share how they use the latest insight to shape creative strategies and innovative multi-channel campaigns. Hear from their experts and get top tips as they talk through two insightful case studies.

Reporter notes

PG Matters – Obstacles and Opportunities for UK Postgraduate Recruitment* – Mark Bennett, FindAUniversity

Masters and PhD level study represent one of the most vibrant, diverse and important parts of the UK higher education sector; by definition, these are pioneering and innovative programmes attracting highly motivated students seeking to understand some of the most complex and important problems facing science, business and society. But all of this can make them difficult to stay on top of, particularly if you’re new to marketing and recruitment at this level.

Our workshop will draw on the unique expertise and data we’ve developed at FindAUniversity (publishers of some of the world’s most popular and respected postgraduate resources). We’ll explore recent trends in postgraduate recruitment and introduce key knowledge and current issues for PGT and PGR marketing, including shifting provision, funding challenges and international recruitment opportunities.

Reporter notes

Personal Development

Innovation Made EasyMichael Coates, Protostar Leadership Development

Innovation is probably one of the core values of your university, or appears prominently on job descriptions and leadership frameworks – but what does it look like and how do you “do it”? In this session, Michael Coates (a visiting professor of innovation and cultural change) will start with the basics and define innovation, before demonstrating some easy to remember techniques for generating innovative ideas, products and services. The session will also cover the conditions needed to create a culture of innovation, allowing you to assess your own department or faculty.

Reporter notes

Professional Development through School GovernanceEmma Harris and Rosalyn Webster, Governors for Schools and University of Manchester

Governors for Schools and the University of Manchester have run a successful school governor programme together for over a decade. University colleagues have made a fantastic contribution to supporting schools, impacting the education of thousands of children and young people.

Becoming a school governor will allow you to share your expertise, gain new skills and deepen your understanding of the education landscape. You will gain valuable CPD whilst improving education for the next generation. This session will explore the role of school governor, the process of joining a school and the ongoing support available to you.

Reporter notes

Writing Blogs: Policy and ConfidenceSunday Blake, Wonkhe

The first part of this session will be a technical look at how to write a blog for Wonkhe – using your knowledge as a higher education worker – that is interesting, appropriate, and accessible! This section will focus on the craft of writing some compelling – from how to start with a good hook, to how to end with a punchy call to action!

The second will be how to find the confidence to speak your truth, and use experiences in higher education, to form an argument or discussion in a way that links to education policy. This part, in particular, will talk about why it can be difficult (due to systematic structures) for marginalised genders and people of colour to find the confidence and time to publish in the public domain. We will talk about how Wonkhe can help these groups find the confidence to write, and publish, something that many people read, find useful, and act upon.

Reporter notes

Work life balance and supporting staff when travelling* – Katie Whitmore – University of Birmingham, Emma McShane – University of York, Geraldine Musajjakawa – University of Leeds, Ailsa Mackenzie – University of Leeds, Sarah Bouvier – University of Hertfordshire

Following an unprecedented break in our usual SR & WP events during the pandemic, 2022 has seen a gradual return and increased demand of in person events and travelling across the UK. In the excitement of being back on the road, some teams have seen themselves taking on more than they may have previously and balancing our commitments with our work travel has become much more complex. In this session, our panel members will discuss top tips for encouraging a healthy work life balance especially in our busier periods and also share their experiences of management support/supporting their own teams when travelling for extended periods of time.

Reporter notes

An introduction to effective Project ManagementAmy Manktelow, Nottingham Trent University

Following an incredible session at our September Professional Development Conference, this session will be a second chance for anyone who missed that event to have an introduction and overview to project management, and the essential steps and key skills needed.

Reporter notes


How to get the most out of your events programme for applicantsThe Student Room Group

Join Barbara Bradshaw (Senior Market Research Consultant) and Victoria Littler (Senior Account Director) as they share research conducted by our TSR Insight team, looking at what Year 12 and 13 students want out of both virtual and on campus open days and if the cost of living crisis will impact the events applicants go to. We’ll also be exploring applicant days and the role they play in conversion.

Reporter notes

Delivering an Inclusive Residential (Hybrid Session)Claire Edden and Alex Tansell

This session will seek to explore how we can create and deliver an inclusive residential for students who identify as having a disability or with increased student mental health and anxiety. Using a case study approach and highlighting top tips, this interactive session will give delegates the chance to ask questions, share good practice and ideas with colleagues.

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Effectively running a student ambassador schemeMyles Smith, University East Anglia

At UEA we employ nearly 1000 student ambassadors to deliver impactful Recruitment and Outreach activity. Come along and find out the systems and processes we use to do it!

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Antiracism and Allyship – Hannah Alipoor, University of Huddersfield

This workshop covers privilege, microaggressions and how to be an ally, whilst also creating a safe space for members to ask questions, share experiences and reflect on previous behaviour. The outcome of this is to widen knowledge and get colleagues to reflect on their position of privilege, microaggressions and allyship.

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Tik Tok Masterclass: Supercharge your university recruitment* – Ranulf Kinloch Jones, Beyond the Blackboard

This masterclass is run by Ranulf Kinloch Jones, who has built a secondary school student following of 45K Tik Tok followers on his education / careers channel Beyond the Blackboard. He has helped several universities, companies and charities boast their applications by up to 600% with just 1 video. The world of student recruitment has drastically changed, and in order to stay ahead universities need to be communicating with students. In this session, you will learn how to build a highly engaged following of potential students, how to make consistently viral videos, and how to build your universities brand.

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Where are we heading with access and participation?Dr Kate Wicklow, GuildHE

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What do graduates do? – Dr Charlie Ball

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