Students in schools and colleges require access to information in order to make informed decisions about their educational pathways. Normally, these sources of information have taken the form of in person information fairs in schools/colleges or large UCAS exhibitions alongside in-school/college careers guidance where available. These have complimented on-campus visits, open-days and other opportunities. The current pandemic has altered our world and provided limited opportunities to engage with prospective students in this way. Universities and other guidance providers have developed a multitude of distinct digital offerings over the last few months in an attempt to fill this void and support students. The use of TEAMS and Zoom are now common place amongst our outreach team although it is acknowledged that it is difficult to replicate the on campus experience through a digital lens. There are however some very valuable lessons learnt over the last few months which enable us to reflect on good practise whilst considering our output over the coming year;
- Is there a need to increase our carbon footprint, frequently travelling several hundred miles each week when these may be replicated through digital means?
- Is there a difference in the way key messages are received by the audience, either in person or through digital platforms when our target audience are so accustomed to digital engagement?
- What are the implications, with the reduction of travel and the move to digital engagement, on our team’s welfare and well-being?
Digital engagement does not necessarily need to wholly eradicate in-person exchanges – this does not need to be an either/or scenario. The last few months have demonstrated that there is a place for the roll out of digital output that permits the user to access content at a time and place that is suitable for them and those who support them. In addition to the many bespoke in-school sessions, my team have created fantastic resources aimed at different audiences;
www.exeter.ac.uk/teachers – Our Teachers and Advisers website contains a wide selection of resources and activities available to teachers/advisers to download and share with your students.
www.facebook.com/DiscoverUniExe – Students, parents & guardians can keep up to date with all our activities and events via our Discover Uni facebook page.
@DiscoverUniExe – a Twitter handle aimed specifically at teachers and advisers providing all the latest information about our activities.
https://www.exeter.ac.uk/teachers/activities/booking/login/ – Log in a request for outreach delivery via our dedicated School Booking system.
The forthcoming academic year is likely to see the team deliver a blended approach to outreach combining lessons learnt through our digital output thus far alongside our excellent opportunities to engage with our campuses when circumstances allow. Please do have a look at the above resources and engage with us through our different platforms. Where we can, we will help.
Dr Karl Devincenzi
Schools Relationship Manager