Marketing for colleges


On March 20, colleges closed their doors and faced an uncertain future. They sent home thousands of students with no tangible idea of when they might welcome them back.

Fast forward four months and they’re still uncertain about what lies in store and, with no return date set for opening their doors once more, it’s down to the colleges themselves to propel themselves headfirst into the new normal.

Virtualisation and EaaS

Virtual courses, remote learning and education as a service are all things colleges could be considering ahead of the new school year – something the Open University have been doing for decades.

As the UK’s largest academic institution, The Open University has around 200,000 registered students with 5,000 tutors and, although on a huge scale, it’s the type of education model colleges could take a leaf from.

Stats show that 99% of 16-24-year-olds in the UK have a smartphone; making the virtualisation of learning a real possibility. Offering a viable solution to prospective new students no matter what the situation may be when they’re looking to start college is an attractive proposition. From supplying them with a laptop through to a scheduled virtual timetable with an online class, online materials and access to their tutors throughout the day; an educational institute which still adds value to its students no matter where they are is a marketable product for any college.

Remote learning strategy

However, in order to establish a remote learning strategy colleges need to ensure they have the technology in place to implement it. Firstly, ensuring its website is up-to-date with the latest information is crucial at the current time. If the college website is being utilised as a remote learning tool it also needs to be responsive to mobile devices and built with UX in mind.

Not only that but the aesthetics and feel of the website need to be strong and reflect the aims of the college. For example, if the college has a dated website which doesn’t display properly on mobile devices yet they’re offering virtual courses; it wouldn’t persuade the audience to buy into the virtual courses as they’d have little faith that it could be delivered successfully.

Reliable internet connection

Ensuring students and teachers have reliable connectivity can also be a hurdle which colleges may need to overcome. Providing them with MiFi devices and installing a reliable VPN network into the college network could be a solution which colleges will need to explore soon.

Should colleges go online, the money they’ll save on campus bills, college stationary and supplies could be put back into investing into reliable connectivity for their staff and students as well as providing a device from which students can access learning online.

While normal marketing strategies would be to host video tours, hold open evenings, host taster events and portray their college as a bustling hive of activity; the current pandemic simply doesn’t allow for that.

But, while the traditional marketing methods are no longer effective, it’s time to be smarter about the way your college is portrayed. Having a strong online, digital presence is now essential and having engaging social media channels sitting alongside a strong, well-designed, responsive and optimised website which has UX embodied into it could be the strongest marketing tool a college could equip itself with to ensure they sail through the current choppy waters.