Universities: How can you get more interest in your master’s courses?
Master’s courses come in all shapes, sizes and durations, from heavily teacher-led top-ups to an undergraduate degree, all the way through to fully research-led programmes for those progressing into PhD territory – and, of course, a whole variety of options in between.
What unites all these different academic areas is that master’s courses all suffer from a lack of uptake when compared to the undergraduate sector. What with UCAS, government initiatives and societal expectations that a large proportion of school leavers should undertake undergraduate courses, it is clear to see why institutions can struggle to drum up support for their sometimes little-known master’s courses.
What can universities do?
The good news is that not only are students increasingly likely to progress onto a master’s once they finish their undergraduate courses, but this goes hand in hand with universities diversifying their strategies for uptake and retention.
Who are your target audience?
Some institutions specialise in retaining their own students from undergraduate study in order to fill their master’s places, whereas others focus on getting students from other institutions and even other countries for theirs. Attracting those from elsewhere is going to rely heavily on the uncertainty of social media or internet marketing, whose results are difficult to guarantee and quantify. However, if you are trying to recruit on campus, there are many effective methods of raising awareness of what you can offer students.
How to reach out to your prospective students
Many students are actively seeking master’s courses, but need to know more about how to decide which path to take. While your website probably offers all the information they could need, it cannot answer niggling questions or give students a flavour of the course itself. This is why on-campus events are a key strategy. These can range from graduate-focused ‘fresher’ style fairs, to special taster events where students can opt into a master’s experience for the day. The former is better for the undecided but is less well-suited for those looking for depth, whereas those who already have an idea will benefit most from the latter.
However, such events will require advertising themselves. Methods such as flyering will get the message around campus. It is often the case that word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool, so getting your courses visible is a key step to take. Alternatively, you can target your advertising more strategically by using subject-specific mailing lists or digital or physical alumni magazines to reach out to those already affiliated with your institution. This has a higher rate of success, as students often trust an alumni service over just any other old advertiser.
The bottom line is that there is a growing market out there for the master’s degrees, and becoming a visible presence is the surest way to turn investment in advertising into students attending your university.