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York St John University – widening participation and geographical reach of undergraduate recruitment

Victoria Tomlinson posted this on

York St John University appointed Northern Lights in April 2011 for a six month campaign to help

  • increase applicants to the university from outside of York and North Yorkshire and
  • demonstrate the value of York St John to students, the economy and wider society in the light of the new fees regime and turbulent economic times

With employability high on the agenda for universities and careers advice in schools being cut, we created the ‘stand out’ campaign. It was designed to help 16 and 17 year olds stand out in university and job applications using out of school activities.

‘Stand Out’ gave York St John the opportunity to reach prospective students across the North of England and beyond and position itself as a student-centred institution producing well-rounded graduates.

Online resources were created with

  • practical tips on what universities and employers look for in new recruits
  •  how to make the most of part time jobs, hobbies, sports, faith groups and other extra-curricular activities in your UCAS personal statement
  •  video featuring admissions tutors, students and graduates bringing the campaign to life.

Phase one of the campaign focused on youth groups and clubs

  • more than 3800 organisations were contacted about the online resources available and workshops being held in their area
  • of the 115 organisations we spoke to, all were enthusiastic about the campaign and not a single one had a negative comment
  • They all passed on information to the young people they worked with.

The campaign was re-worked with workshops targeted at schools and using the same ‘stand out’ message.

For phase two of the campaign we organised interactive events in Sheffield, Newcastle, Hull, Leeds and Nottingham.

  • we contacted heads of sixth form from local schools to bring groups of students or invite them to attend as individuals or with friends/parenta
  •  All the teachers we spoke to were crying out for this kind of support  – those that couldn’t attend the events circulated information to students or requested a visit to their school from the York St John team.

The events included

  • York St John student ambassadors who could talk directly to school students about their own experiences
  • workshop session on making the decision to go to university – what is involved including student fees and finance
  • tips on what admissions tutors are looking for besides academic achievements
  • common mistakes university applicants make
  • how to show passion for your chosen subject
  • opportunity to critique example personal statements

Around 200 students, teachers and parents attended the events and feedback was excellent.  York St John is following up contacts made and offering bespoke help, including visits to schools.

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