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Challenge: How do you change student perceptions and experience?

Challenge: How do you change student perceptions and experience?

Lancaster University consistently ranks as one of the Top 10 universities in the UK, yet potential students frequently perceived it as a lower-ranking university.  

We have worked with the university on a number of projects that aim to improve both student perception and experience.

In an overcrowded market, it’s important for any brand to be clear about who they are and what that stand for.  Without fully developing its points of differentiation, Lancaster University was risking potential students walking away and choosing an alternative.

In 2015 Groundswell Innovation was selected to define the brand narrative for Lancaster University.  The process was described by the Head of Global Recruitment as ‘the most straightforward branding process he had taken part in’.

“Following the project with Groundswell innovation, we developed a clear brand definition, and were also able to introduce a ‘tone of voice’ section to the Brand Guidelines for the first time.  This has been used in both the student recruitment and video campaigns and we are rolling it out across all our future communications.”

Clare Riding, Head of Marketing, Lancaster University

In 2018, we led an exploratory research project to understand the usage patterns of social spaces by students who lived on and off-campus at Lancaster University.  This insight was used to inform an extensive campus re-development plan, which involved the creation of new College facilities and communal spaces.

The research process itself, demonstrated the full range of students’ social and down-time needs, which differed by cultural background as well as neural spectrum placement. This helped the project management team to understand the impact of small details on the wellbeing of students.

Development Manager, Josh Dean stated of one project:

“This study has been invaluable in highlighting to University leadership the importance of improving the visitor experience we provide and has led to significant re-development of our planned offering.”

Every additional student we gain via optimisation of student experience means an extra £27,000 in fees for Lancaster.  In 2019, Lancaster was named The Times top University in the UK for student experience.  Unlike other top-flight universities, they are not seeing a drop-off in European student numbers post Brexit or a significant reduction in international student numbers now that Covid restrictions have been lifted. 

Since that point, we have been involved in strategic research projects for the Health Innovation Campus and Faculty of Health & Medicine; Knowledge Transfer Partnerships; Prospectus design and student recruitment; and community engagement strategy setting. 

We have also worked with all Universities in Lancashire as well as Manchester Metropolitan University and The University of Sheffield. 

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