Almost 60 Higher Education and Business Education institutions launched digital activity in April

Key points:

  • Visits to Higher and Business Education institution websites in Europe were up to four times higher at the end of March compared to January 2020
  • Almost 60 Higher Education and Business Education institutions launched digital activity in April, of which roughly three quarters were campaigns targeting Europe and Asia
  • We expect to see a significant increase in activity in May as universities work to increase their profile as students start to look towards Clearing in August

As with most sectors since the Covid-19 outbreak, Higher Education has been in a state of flux, necessitating pivots to online learning and remote teaching as well as a larger revaluation of application criteria and future delivery of courses and programmes.

What has become clear is that both current student and prospective student visits to institution websites as well as student information sites has risen exponentially. In Europe alone ComScore saw visits increase by up to four times at the end of March compared to the first month of 2020. Whilst some of this traffic has come from current students, many Fundamental L&D clients are reporting an uplift in interest from prospective students, particularly in the Business Education space.

This increase in activity is also reflected in the number of new campaigns launched in April, with almost 60 Higher Education and Business Education institutions launching digital activity as recorded by Fundamental Monitor. Of these, roughly three quarters were campaigns targeting Europe and Asia.

Business Education

A significant portion of advertising has been focussed on promoting MBA, Executive MBA and Master’s programmes, with 72 separate campaigns generating over 60 million impressions between 1-27 April. Whilst many schools are maintaining a ‘business as usual’ approach to their messaging, others are championing their online MBA and Master’s programmes as well as giving additional weight to their scholarship messaging.

Schools have largely pivoted from on-campus information sessions to virtual ones, some also promoting more intimate 1-2-1 chats with faculty and programme directors rather than larger webinars.

Advertising promoting Executive Education has decreased by almost 60% since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, as schools postpone many of their programmes rather than deliver them online. There are some notable exceptions such as LSE, which is promoting four-week virtual courses to be held in June, Imperial College Business School which has launched a programme in Digital Marketing and Analytics, and INSEAD with its Design Thinking and Creativity for Business programme.

Higher Education

April has seen 46 universities advertising with over 100 different campaigns.

The pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty for universities, particularly where school leavers’ exams have been cancelled and moved to calculated grades and other assessments. In the UK, Clearing 2020 could be more important than ever as school leavers consider options outside of their confirmed offers.

June usually sees the majority of universities hosting Open Days, which are a crucial part of the decision-making journey, and we’ve seen many universities promoting online alternatives to increase prospective student engagement. Where March and early April saw research content from faculty on Covid-19, the latter part of April saw more universities taking a more BAU approach, promoting their brand values as well as individual courses. There has also been a notable uptick in universities promoting their scholarships and bursaries.

Some institutions have been moving to promote their online courses above a more general recruitment message. The University of Glasgow has been showcasing their Population Health Sciences Master’s, combing a hot topic with an online offering.

We anticipate we’ll see a significant increase in activity in May as universities work to increase their profile as students start to look towards Clearing in August.

All data comes from Fundamental Monitor, an innovative technology tool developed by Fundamental Media providing real-time insights into the advertising campaigns by asset managers across the globe.

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