Consistently growing the numbers of students who enrol is the Holy Grail for university marketing teams and being able to attract a wider audience is key.
Opening days can often be the single most effective marketing activity for universities to convert enquiries into student enrolments. On the other hand, A level results clearing is another crucial part of student enrolment and admission for universities.
This year more students than ever have obtained places through the A-Level clearing process. To attract this uplift in students going through clearing, university websites act as their shop window to inform and educate students about their university offerings. To attract a wider, more diverse range of students their websites need to be accessible and inclusive.
Data from UCAS (as of 27/8/2019) showed that 44,000 out of the 476,000 UK students who gained places went through clearing, which is 4,500 more than the same point last year.
Attracting new students in a changing world
These figures underline how important it is for universities to get the most of their marketing spend during clearing and reach as many prospective students as possible. But they must do this in a rapidly changing world, as the UK’s population (and university intake) becomes more diverse.
Data from the ONS shows this population trend is set to continue for many years, and net international migration will account for almost three-quarters of UK population growth over the next 25 years.
So as our population becomes more diverse, there is a growing need for language support.
For example, many international students won’t speak English as their first language, so translation options (especially for complex information) will be essential for them to access communications. Also, in 2017–18, there were 458,490 international students studying at UK higher education institutions, which accounts for nearly 20% of the total student population in the UK.
All this means that for universities to succeed at attracting students they must ensure that their websites offer language support during clearing and for attracting people to open days as part of their university selection process. This can be done through various assistive technology tools, learn more about assistive technology in schools and education here.
Language translation is crucial for digital access
Universities like Cranfield University, which attracts students from over 100 countries across the world, use the Recite Me assistive toolbar to let anyone view their website in the way that works best for them.
This is a key part of their offering to attract international students (including those who don’t speak English as their first language) to enrol.
Recite Me lets people change elements such as the font size, plus the font colour and background colour contrast, as well as giving the option to have the text read out aloud. All of which are great for helping people with disabilities to access web content.
Crucially, Recite Me also gives people the option to translate any bit of written web content on-demand into over 100 different languages, including text to speech in over 40 languages. This makes it easy for people who don’t speak English as their first language to easily access all the information they need to on the university’s website.
As Amy Simpson, Head of Digital Communications at Cranfield University, explained, this combination of translation and accessibility features is ideal for universities.
She said: “We wanted to make sure the content on our website was accessible to as many people as possible.
“Recite Me provides us with a translation service as well as an accessibility solution, which is very important for us because it means that our international audiences can easily access our web content.
“There are so many different features on the Recite Me toolbar that it covers everything from an accessibility and language perspective.”
Ultimately, universities must ensure they meet the language needs of prospective students to flourish in the future.