Top British universities failing to exploit social media

This blog post brings together two seemingly unrelated articles. One I noticed on a classmate’s Facebook page and the second, while browsing the Monday morning news.

The first article, related to the lack of ~aggressive~ use of social media by top-tier British universities generated a comment of “Who cares? Why should they?” on my friend’s Facebook page.

The second article perhaps provides a reason why they should.

Granted, it is overly simplistic to distill the ups and downs of admissions among top internationally-ranked universities to simply “they don’t tweet”, but the market they are in: high-performing and high-potential students, is ultra-competitive.

This year’s acceptance percentage among US Ivies and other highly competitive schools was said to be, overall, lower than previous years. Part of this is that the volume of applications to these universities has exploded over the past few years. Even if you increase the number of students admitted each year, your acceptance rate may still decline due to increased applications.

One thing to think about is that in a period when US manufacturing and exports appear to be declining, enrollment in notable US universities continually increases, particularly International students. Creating and “exporting” knowledge is a growth industry. And, like the tag-line in the GEICO commercial, “everybody knows this”.

University recruiting has some reliable, time-tested methods. High performing students are not sitting on their hands waiting for their university to seek them out. But sometimes, decisions can be swayed or a student can be made aware of an option that maybe they had not considered initially.

What is important is that decisions are made at the margins (I learned this in Organizational Dynamics!) and if your competitor is aggressively and astutely using social media…maybe you should too.

Top British universities failing to exploit social media

Karen MacGregor 18 April 2014 Issue No:316

Article here: http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20140417142829783#.U1PSeGYo_Zs.facebook

The United Kingdom’s 10 top-ranked universities have a combined total of more than 400,000 followers on Twitter, according to new research – but they are failing to engage with potential students and “stand out from the crowd through social media”.

Twitter followers represent a massive potential recruitment pool, but none of the top 10 universities “is sending out more than four tweets a day, let alone directly engaging with their followers”, said Brandwatch, a social media analytics company.

With fierce competition for students, pressure on universities to market themselves is intense.

“This is one of the first generations of digitally native students seeking a place at university. We already know from previous studies that students don’t feel universities make enough use of social media to attract them – and our research clearly backs this up.”

Some findings

  • A demographic breakdown for the UK, provided to University World News, showed that in the top 10 universities, Oxford had 123,000 followers and Cambridge 109,300, and then there was a sharp drop-off to Edinburgh with 35,100, Bristol with 29,900 and Imperial College London with 26,600.
  • University College London has 24,500 followers, King’s College 24,300, Durham 14,100, the London School of Economics 13,400 and Manchester 3,400.
  • The study found that Oxford University tweeted the least frequently among the UK top 10 institutions, sending out on average just one tweet a day. But it is the second most tweeted university, receiving 86 daily @ tweets.
  • “Used predominantly for broadcasting university-specific and industry news, most universities have a less than 10% engagement rate for their tweets (percentage of total tweets that are @) –” Oxford, London School of Economics and King’s College sent out no direct tweets.
  • “The most recruitment-related chatter surrounded the University of Oxford handle, with the least around Imperial College London.”

Where the followers are

Looking in more detail at five universities – Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Bristol and Imperial College London – the study found high proportions of overseas followers.
Just over one-third of followers of Oxford and Cambridge (both 36%) were based in the UK while 32% were in the United States.

A similar breakdown for five top-ranked US universities showed higher proportions of American followers – 65% for Harvard, 81% for Stanford, 72% for Yale, 62% for MIT and 71% for Princeton. Canada or the UK provided the second and third largest proportions of followers, between 2% and 4%. Ecuador came in fourth for all except MIT, with Spain fourth.

Now, here is why maybe they need to add some focus on Social media:

English higher education faces enrollment slowdown

By PATRICK BLUM
THE INTERNATIONAL NEW YORK TIMES APRIL 20, 2014

Article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/21/world/europe/english-higher-education-faces-enrollment-slowdown.html?ref=europe&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=*Morning%20Brief&utm_campaign=MB%2004.21.14

English universities risk higher financing costs

The credit ratings of English universities risk being damaged by a slowdown in their enrollment of full-time students from outside the European Union, according to a recent credit outlook paper published by the Moody’s rating agency.

The agency cited a recent report by the Higher Education Funding Council for England that said enrollments had stagnated for the past two years, following strong growth in previous years, raising fears that Britain might be losing out to rival international education providers in the United States, Australia and Canada.

The change hurts the credit rating of the universities, making it potentially more expensive for them to borrow money, because foreign students make an important contribution to revenues. Fees for students coming from outside the European Union were an average 12 percent of all university revenues in 2013, up from 8 percent in 2008, and were the fastest-growing revenue source from 2008 to 2012.

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