How the University of Sunderland turned the tide on the pandemic to recruit hundreds of students

Lockdowns and travel bans proved no problem for the University of Sunderland which managed to recruit hundreds of students – the virtual way.

Saturday, 4th July 2020, 7:00 am
Staff and ambassadors pictured during the university open day.

Covid-hit open days were replaced by virtual events at the university where senior figures beat the coronavirus restrictions by teaming up with a firm called The Access Platform.

It led to more than 400 prospective students being recruited and the system means new recruits can also speak to students already at the university.

They can also find out more about life on campus, the societies they can join and about sports teams at the university – as well as asking questions about the academic side of it all.

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Emma Cottle, the university's digital content manager.

Emma Cottle, the university’s Digital Content Manager, said: “We implemented TAP very quickly due to the need to move all open days online as quickly as possible, we wanted to give prospective students the opportunity to connect and engage with our students, academics and support services.

“The platform is available all of the time to those wishing to chat to us and it is a pivotal part of our open days, with our staff across the university available to chat.

“At the University of Sunderland, we pride ourselves on our inclusivity and support as well as excellent courses, and it was important for us to have the opportunity to continue this virtually.”

The technology developed by The Access Platform allows prospective pupils considering an application for a course to interact on a personal level with existing students and ambassadors.

The University of Sunderland.

They can get the answers they need from their peers currently studying at the university.

Nik Higgins, co-founder at The Access Platform said it was ‘fantastic to see how the university has used TAP.

“The virtual open day concept acknowledges the value of that personal experience, but gives it contemporary relevance - allowing students to explore the institution online, in a way that is most accessible and convenient for them.”

Since TAP and the University of Sunderland first collaborated together at the start of March, the university has reported more than 400 prospective students have signed up to the platform.

Emma said: “We now have 51 students ambassadors trained and available on TAP.

“The University of Sunderland welcomes everyone from all backgrounds, our 51 student ambassadors are from all over the world studying a variety of courses, all with a unique perspective and they have lots to share with others who are considering Sunderland as an option for them.

“They have recently been sharing their experiences of learning online and topical areas, it is a great opportunity for students to have their voices heard too through the content creation area.”

The University of Sunderland has almost 20,000 students, and 36 per cent of them are international students.

They are based across four campuses; two in the North East, one in London and one in Hong Kong.

The university was ranked 16th out of 131 universities in the ‘University of the Year’ category of the Whatuni Student Choice awards 2019.

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