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National Conference 2024 Resources

National Conference 2024 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

KEYNOTE: Accessing the health of student demand: What the data tells us about the future of UKHELaura Scanga, Director of Business Development, dataHE

This session provided an overview of recent and future demand for higher education in the UK from Laura Scanga, who leads on helping universities use data for better decision making.

Reporter notes

Supporting Success presentations slides

KEYNOTE: Supporting SuccessKim Eccleston, Head of Strategy and Reform, UCAS

This session will explore admissions reform on the horizon as well as a future look at the challenges the sector will likely face together in the coming years. We’ll look at how we can pool our expertise and enthusiasm to ensure that students are well supported throughout ongoing times of change.

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Creating impactful virtual events – Freddie Knaggs, Jess Wells and Megan Soley, Unifrog

Join Unifrog for an interactive session where we’ll explore how universities can effectively leverage virtual events in the current recruitment landscape. Discover the value of crafting digital experiences that leave a lasting impact on prospective students, enriched by insights from the Unifrog community. We’ll explore strategies for maximising the impact of virtual events, illustrated through real-world examples and best practice from across the sector, whilst engaging in discussions about the ideal timing for virtual events, their execution, and efficient marketing techniques.

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Recruiting International Students in the UKFelicity Lloyd, International Partnerships Manager, UCAS and Caroline Feely, Deputy Head of International Recruitment (Undergraduate), University of Liverpool

This session will focus on creating successful UK International recruitment strategy, how home and international recruitment teams can best work together and the unique problems that arise in this market.

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T levels: where are we and how are we doing – Andy Cotterill, Head of Global Undergraduate Student Recruitment and Access, Keele University, Catherine Sezen, Director of Education Policy, Association of Colleges and Shelley Brown, Director of Curriculum & Performance, Newcastle & Stafford Colleges Group

Two cohorts of T level students have now completed their qualifications and moved onto work or further study, so how are we doing as a sector? This session, combining speakers from the Association of Colleges, Keele University and teachers leading on T level delivery in England, will look at progression routes for T level learners, their barriers to success and the brilliant skills they are developing on the courses. Most importantly, you’ll leave with a range of practical tools that you can use to bring your institution forward on T levels and create exciting pathways for our young people.

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Converting student prospects: how to connect from enquiry to enrolmentJasmine Gwalter, Community Manager, The Student Room and Barbara Bradshaw, Senior Market Consultant, TSR Insight

This session will focus on conversion activity from the perspective of enquiry to applicant, applicant to enrolment. We will be sharing student survey data from TSR Insight looking at what first year undergraduates said they found most valuable on their decision making journey into HE as well as sharing data from current 2024 applicants on what they need from you right now and in the coming months.

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Next Project presentation slide

UCAS Events – The Student PerspectiveAimee Okafor, Head of Events and David Penney, Director of Marketing, UCAS

Discover how 13-17 year olds are thinking, behaving and planning for their future choices and listen to the views and honest opinions of our panel of school and college students who have attended a UCAS event. They will talk about how they researched their future choices and their experiences so far. Get valuable first-hand insight from your audience and hear how UCAS have incorporated this into their 2024 event development.

Please note: This session at National Conference included a video that UCAS are unable to share post-session. There is a transcript of highlights from the video in the reporters notes below.

Reporter notes

Degree apprenticeship presentation slides

Everything you ever wanted to know about Degree ApprenticeshipsKaren Hinton, Associate Director Marketing, University of Suffolk and Emma Chu, Recruitment Officer (Apprenticeships) Manchester Metropolitan University

This session will outline what Degree Apprenticeships are, and how prospective students find and apply for them. However, while everyone might agree that Degree Apprenticeships are a good opportunity, the session will explore what is different about studying for Degree Apprenticeships compared to traditional study – both the positives and negatives. This session is aimed at Recruitment and Outreach Officers who would like to understand Degree Apprenticeships more, and aims to provide some key points to support you in delivering presentations or IAG about them.

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Prospectus Plus slides

The Future of the ProspectusNathan Monk, Co-founder, Prospectus Plus

They’ve been part of the student recruitment cycle for what seems like forever. And despite the world going digital-first and some pockets of innovation, many prospectuses have stubbornly stayed the same. However, as the needs and expectations of students change, what does the future hold for prospectuses? Are they still relevant or is it time for change? Nathan showcases emerging trends and explores the history of the university prospectus and some future possibilities.

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Widening Participation

zero gravity presentation slides

The Network Advantage: Is access to university Inherited? – Tom Cockbain, Undergraduate Talent Lead and Tom Haywood-Pope, Chief Operating Officer, Zero Gravity

Your network is your biggest advantage, but what if the system was rigged? In this session, the Zero Gravity team will be looking at how a powerful network can help drive students’ access to university and careers and the importance of closing the opportunity gap for future generations. Talent is spread equally; opportunity is not. Every year, 50,000 students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds achieve top GCSE’s, yet only a third make it to top-ranking universities. Even fewer enter an elite graduate career. A leading cause is the lack of an inherited network and the opportunities that come with it. This session will be looking at how the unseen network advantage is impacting social mobility, sharing some of the key findings from Zero Gravity’s community of 18,000 members, and how the organisation is scaling their tech platform alongside institutional partners to create the UK’s largest community of talent.

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care experienced student support presentation slides

Supporting our Care Experienced StudentsAl Blackshaw, Widening Access Manager and
Debbie Duncan, Senior Widening Access Support Officer, University of Strathclyde

This session will provide an overview of the University of Strathclyde suite of support for care experienced students from application to graduation.

Participants will hear about the range of support in place for care experienced applicants from initial contact to support during their studies and how we work collaboratively with internal and external colleagues to create a network to support their journey. This interactive session will give delegates the opportunity to ask questions, share good practice and ideas with colleagues.

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Leveraging Data to Enhance Widening Participation Strategies slides

Leveraging Data to Enhance Widening Participation StrategiesVicki Spink, Head of HeppSY and Helen Zhu, Data and Evaluation Manager, HeppSY/Sheffield Hallam University

Uni Connect partnerships have traditionally been asked to work with a national evaluator, previously CFE, to support large scale and longitudinal evaluation of the programme. In HeppSY we have ran this survey alongside our own local partnership learner survey to dive deeper into the perspectives of our learners, to support strategic decision making on the types of activities we have delivered and assess the impact of our interventions. Since the national survey was no longer a programme requirement we have maintained our local survey, with our most recent survey yielding almost 5000 responses, despite the target cohort now only covering 4 year groups.
This year we have been able to use the survey to inform our decision making on where we direct activity, whether this be traditional targeted outreach activities or strategic outreach and attainment raising outreach. Within this session, we will discuss what we learnt from our survey, how this has shaped our decision making and what we plan to deliver in light of our findings. We will also cover how we will be adapting our survey to support further data informed delivery and practice.

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Connection Counts presentation slides

Connection CountsHannah Simnett, Founder of ‘Cherished’ Charity

Hannah Simnett is an award-winning leader, speaker and influencer. Hannah founded Cherished UK at the age of just 18 years old, in response to her own personal experiences and seeing the attachment needs of students not being met.Hannah has trained more than 5000 professionals on the front lines of our community. This includes police officers, children’s charities, social and support workers and educators. She believes connection, kindness and empathy are the attributes that every educator needs to get the best results with children and young people. Tips on how this can be achieved will be presented during this event. Hannah brings passion, creativity and experience to help you navigate tricky situations you may encounter with the young people you are working with. The workshops Hannah will deliver are creative, hands-on, honest and real, ensuring you feel empowered, encouraged and equipped for the sessions you deliver in the future.

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Student Advisory PanelsJoanne McKenna Widening Participation Officer, Edge Hill University 

This session will cover the practical aspects of how we set up our Student Advisory Panels, alongside discussions around how they have guided University events, policy and projects, boosted diversity and inclusion, what we have learnt and challenges we have faced.

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Innovation in literacy outreach slides

Innovation in Literacy Outreach: Oral Storytelling in West LondonJordan Campbell, Outreach Officer, University of West London

Our extremely popular storytelling programmes develop students’ literacy and oracy skills and builds their confidence in an engaging and creative way. Since beginning last November, we have delivered long-term programmes (6 to 10 weeks) to over 200 students aged 8 – 18 and have delivered one-off workshops to over 1200 students. The feedback has been outstanding, and demand has grown rapidly. As a result, we are already fully booked for the entire next academic year split equally between primary schools, secondary schools, and pupil referral units. Come and learn from a professional storyteller and outreach practitioner about what we do and why our storytelling programmes are so popular with students and teachers.

Reporter notes

Student Recruitment and Widening Participation

Reaching more people through Inclusive & Accessible Communication – Becki Morris, Lead Access Auditor and EDI Consultant Embed Inclusion Ltd

In our every day lives we create moments that matter as we engage and communicate with those around us. But how often to we take time to think about how we are communicating, what we are saying and the impact of that are people we are engaging with?

In this session we will explore the language and body language of inclusive communication, the words we use and the power those words have in flavouring how we experience each moment. We will also look at how inclusive communication differs from accessible communication, and how both are needed if we are going to create places and spaces where people feel they belong, just as they are.

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Leveraging Technology to Enhance Student Ambassador and Casual Worker Programs – Jacob Jones (Developer/Customer Support) and Jitandra Rav (CEO and Founder), DashboardTechnology

This interactive workshop delves into the pivotal role of technology in maximising the effectiveness of student ambassadors and casual workers, resulting in enhanced staff work satisfaction, recruitment success, and increased engagement. Attendees will discuss key factors to managing a student ambassador programme, common pitfalls and how to meet compliance requirements and how technology improve the process.

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Money Matters 101: Preparing students for university’s financial challenge – Tom Allingham, Communications Director, Save the Student

We’ll be looking at the financial challenges students face, including findings from our National Student Money and Accommodation Surveys. Using this insight, we’ll explore how to help students get to grips with money as they apply and, later, start university.

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Teacher and Careers Adviser PanelShelley Brown, Director of Curriculum & Performance, Newcastle & Stafford Colleges Group, Stephanie Hall, Head of Careers, St George’s School, Edinburgh, Anthony Moore, Careers Lead, Whitburn Church of England Academy and Gemma Hayes-Logan, Head of Careers and Skills, Wyke Sixth Form College

Join our panel of teachers and careers advisors to be able to ask questions and learn from their insights.

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How to build a widening access curriculum – Jon Coe, Access Development Manager (Future Students) and Megan Rostern-Thomson Senior Access Development Officer, University of Sheffield

Access Service at Sheffield has just finished our ‘Access Development Project. Having utilised Theory of Change methodology in our programme and evaluation design, we have created a service delivery model that covers students from primary age through to first term of undergraduate study, with a local focus in early years, expanding to local and national interventions from post-16 onwards. This session should give you the tools needed to to build a skills-based, evidence led widening access curriculum.

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presentation slides for uni taster days

A decade of UniTasterDays insights – five tips for building relationships with schools and colleges – Director and Founder, UniTasterDays

Reflecting on over ten years of experience running UniTasterDays, Founder Jon Cheek will share key findings from the journey. These insights are centred around tips for building relationships with schools and colleges and providing fantastic and mutually beneficial university guidance content and resources.

This interactive session will include research findings and reflections, tips for showcasing your university guidance opportunities, along with advice for those considering featuring (or running) a podcast. You’ll also learn how to benefit from platforms like LinkedIn and explore new engagement opportunities on UniTasterDays.

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SMRS presentation slides

The Art of ConnectionJo McLaughlin, New Business Consultant and Smita Choban, Client Partner, SMRS

Making meaningful connections with prospective students is essential for effective student recruitment. This session will provide research-backed insights to help you understand and engage this audience across the decision-making journey. We’ll explore findings from SMRS MediaMapper, a unique research project into prospective student media habits and consumption preferences to understand the best channels and strategies for connecting in different contexts.

Armed with these data-driven insights, you’ll be equipped to evolve outreach and marketing efforts in an increasingly competitive environment, and you’ll leave with a clearer understanding of how to align your approach to engage, recruit and support prospective students more effectively at each step of their journey.

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IDP Connect presentation slides

What are the key factors influencing students’ decision making? Ingrid Daujoti, Account Director and Jon Montgomerie, Associate Head of Client Success, IDP Connect

Join us in this engaging session as we present valuable insights into student sentiment from our longitudinal UCAS deadline survey alongside real-time behaviour data drawn from the busiest UG research sites, Whatuni and Complete University Guide.

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Vepple slides

2023: The Future Student Odyssey – The role of online across all stages of the Recruitment Journey Jonny Harper, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Victoria Littler, Account Director, Revolution Viewing

A winning content strategy is one which gives your audience exactly what they’re looking for when they are looking for it – we all know this, it’s not a secret. But how do you know if you’ve got one?

Your audience are prospective students. Again, not a secret. But it’s the ‘when’ part of this that becomes a bit more interesting. Can you genuinely say that you know when your audience is looking for what they need?

Just like Stanley Kubrick did with his groundbreaking film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, let us take you on a journey to give you an unprecedented exploration into when students are engaging with online content and a futuristic, accurate detailing of what they are looking at in particular.

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gecko slides

Creating impact throughout the student journeyChris Gibson, UK Sales Manager, Jonny Urquhart, Head of Customer Success, Gecko and Jonny Atkinson, Hybrid Delivery Manager – Student Recruitment & Events, University of Liverpool

Gecko and University of Liverpool are going to identify trends in comms, events, crm and student engagement. The session can focus on common challenges we have found in 2023 and what solutions came to tackle them, looking ahead at what types of activities and engagement opportunities are ahead of Higher Education professionals and facilitating a discussion on where our attendees can influence the discussion and add value. It’ll be ideal for those new to marketing/events roles and for those who have some recruitment experience with varying responsibilities.

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AI presentation slides

Positive & Purposeful Disruption with AI – Ben Whitaker, Educational Consultant, Round Peg Square Holes Ltd

This session will be a hands-on session looking at ways that AI tools can help educators and students to save time, embrace emerging technologies that can help us succeed and do this in an authentic and collaborative way. We will look at ChatGPT particularly, as well as a number of other tools available in this space.

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Scaling the power of communities across the student journey – Emma Froud, Director of Business Development and Ian Pierson, Customer Success Lead, Unibuddy with Andy Jackson, University of South Wales,

This session will be a hands-on session looking at ways that AI tools can help educators and students to save time, embrace emerging technologies that can help us succeed and do this in an authentic and collaborative way. We will look at ChatGPT particularly, as well as a number of other tools available in this space.

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FAU presentation slides

Postgraduate Study in 2024 – What Can We Really Expect?Mark Bennett, Director (Audience & Editorial), Find a University

Postgraduate enrolments have been on a roller-coaster over the past few cycles, with the coronavirus pandemic and the graduate route boosting domestic and international recruitment respectively… before the cost of living crisis and changes to student visas had the opposite effect. As a result, understanding and supporting prospective Masters and PhD students has never been important, both for maintaining internationalization and widening participation and for supporting the vital specialisms and research areas that postgraduate programmes and skills sustain.
Presented by our expert insights team, this session will offer an honest exploration of who prospective postgraduates are, what they’re looking to do and, crucially, how universities can help them succeed.

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presentation slides for hybrid engagement

Making Hybrid Engagement work; developments and opportunities for PGAndrew Cooper, Hybrid Delivery Coordinator, University of Liverpool

In this session, we explore when and how we should hold in-person events vs virtual events and how we can ensure each activity is complemented by the other for postgraduate student recruitment.

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presentation slides for Access Postgrad

Access Postgrad: PGT Home widening participationAlice Brereton, Postgraduate Recruitment Manager, University of Bristol

The case study ‘Access Postgrad’, for progressing undergraduate students, will initiate a discussion on the emerging area of PGT widening participation. During this interactive session we’ll consider how the scheme has developed over the last six years, challenges encountered, ambitions for the future and practical tips for colleagues looking to introduce a widening participation scheme.

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Using Employers in Postgraduate RecruitmentSteven Joesbury, Student Recruitment Manager, The University of Law

Employers are one of the key stakeholders that universities work with, and getting their buy in to events and recruitment activity is crucial, as if prospective students feel our links with employers are strong, then this can be a real driver for their applications as they feel their prospects will therefore be strong. Join The University of Law, a specialist university, as they discuss how they have maximised their relationships with law firms and businesses and used them regularly in their recruitment activities, and how this helps prospective students to consider ULaw as one of their top choices for postgraduate study.

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Personal Development

Y I don’t give an F anymore: a personal journey in resilience – Keir Robinson, UG Recruitment Manager (UK), The University of Edinburgh

Everyone struggles, right? Everyone has challenges, the world sucks, right? Having a happier life doesn’t hinge on turning lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. In this workshop we will explore what resilience means and how I have used specific resources that have helped me overcome my challenges. As you may tell from the title, this workshop will have some swear words in it – it is unavoidable. If the F bomb offends you, then probably best to sit this one out… they drop frequently!

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Making stress your best friendDaria Oliver, Executive Consultant & Facilitator, Charlotte Wiseman LTD

Managing stress proactively not only makes us more physically healthy but empowers us to make effective decisions, think more creatively, and be more resilient. Ineffective stress management can lead to a state of anxiety, low productivity and chronic health issues.

This practical and interactive workshop will explore stress and resilience, inviting participants to consider the potential benefits of stress and sharing the science of Eustress (healthy stress). We will then explore practical skills to regulate the stress response when we are feeling overwhelmed and to boost motivation when we need a little boost. These skills are crucial to expand our resilience zone, making stress performance & health-enhancing so we can all be more adaptable, productive, and healthier.

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presentation slides for the dragon, the thistle and the shamrock

The Dragon, the Thistle and the ShamrockLlinos Angharad Williams, HELOA Wales Chair, Calum Fraser, HELOA Scotland Chair and Niamh Gallagher, NW&NI Vice Chair (Memberships & Comms)

An interactive session which covered qualifications and HE systems in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as student finance differences. Myths will be busted, prizes to be won, no Welsh nor Gaelic required!

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presentation slides for Regional Recruitment

Regional Recruitment: The Good, the Bad and the UglyEmma Jubbs – Director of Marketing and Recruitment at University of Lincoln, Curtis Reid – London Stakeholder Manager at University of Lincoln, Jeff Chilton – Student Recruitment Officer: Central England, Aberystwyth University and Catherine O’Mahony – School and College Engagement Officer (London) University of Exeter

How does an Outreach team who is regionally based make it work for a university? This session provided discussion and tips of the pros and cons of this way of working.

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presentation slides for higher education policy

Making sense of policy – David Kernohan, Deputy Editor, Wonkhe

Higher education policy – what is it, where does it come from, and what does it mean for you?

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presentation slides for working with partners

Working with Partners: We have an MoU, now what? – Moyra Throssell, Quality Manager (Partnerships), London Metropolitan University

This session will explore the language of UK partnerships; we are commonly asked by Schools and Colleges for a range of agreements, including progression agreements, service level agreements, Memoranda of Understanding, strategic partnerships, articulation agreements amongst others. The workshop aims to explain what each of these are, the purpose of them, what use they have and how they can be an effective tool in UK recruitment.

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