Universities must now battle each other to attract students. How is that changing them?
THE style is that of every other vlogger: breathless narration, rapid cuts between scenes, relentless cheer. “I really like visiting other universities, because I like to imagine myself in a different life where I’d gone to this one, instead of the one I ended up in,” explains Evan Edinger into a hand-held camera, before attending an open day at SOAS, a London university. Another reason, presumably, is because SOAS had paid him to do so. One hint is a small hashtag (“#ad”) at the end of his video’s title.
University marketing, once restricted to the three months before applications are due, is now constant, says Rachel Killian of Penna, a marketing firm. That reflects a broad shift in higher education as a result of reforms introduced by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government. In 2012 it trebled the tuition fees universities could charge, up to a maximum of £9,000 ($14,000). Then in 2014 it lifted a cap on student numbers which had controlled government spending by restricting how many places institutions could offer. Students once competed for a limited number of spaces; now universities do battle to enroll as many scholars as they can.