Virtual events in education

New research, produced by Clearhead the Luton-based global content agency in collaboration with the University of Bedfordshire, highlights the challenges faced by the education sector over the last 12 months, the innovation used and the potential long-term changes for student recruitment. 

Launched today, The future of virtual events in the education sector interviewed and surveyed education institutions from across the UK to get their insight on how technology has changed during Covid-19 and how it is shaping the way the sector works. The following key challenges were identified in the research: time commitment, the availability of technology and skills, design and development and content creation. 

Gavin O’Brien, CEO, Clearhead said: “The research shows that education marketers and academic staff have had to navigate quickly through these uncertain times to implement new technology and create the experience of student life through the ‘virtual’ world rather than traditional footfall visits.  

“Technology adaptation is becoming a mainstream activity bringing with it new opportunities, roles and skills – many of which will have a long-term impact on education marketing. We hope the research contributes to the work that many are doing to help establish best practice and a greater body of knowledge about the technological challenges and opportunities available for delivering virtual events in the future.”

A key finding from the results is that education providers, whilst sharing a number of common characteristics do differ significantly in the manner by which their services are promoted. For those institutions that actively recruit within a competitive and crowded marketplace the opportunities to showcase facilities, campus environment, location etc. are key drivers in the adoption of technology. 

Dr Rhidian Lewis, a member of the research steering group and Associate Dean of Enterprise and Employability at University of Bedfordshire Business School said: “We’re really excited to have been involved in this research and to be able to provide support in terms of questionnaire design and the use of quantitative and qualitative data capture methods. We supported Clearhead in the analysis of results and independent analysis of the findings and their application.” 

Victoria Murphy Head of Marketing and Communications and Northampton College took part in the research and commented: “The pandemic has significantly changed the way we work, and it is becoming clear that things will never be the same again. Physical open events have been cancelled, automated processes have been introduced, and the virtual world has become more important than ever before. Until we can safely open our doors to the public once more, we’re planning to deliver further online events, some of which will be on-demand. After that, we plan to introduce a mix of physical & virtual events and adopt some of the measures we have been accelerated into using for the long-term.”

As well as identifying the key findings, the paper provides recommendations for those working in the sector, some of which include: how to create memorable virtual experiences, personalising your approach and choosing the right technology.

The results will be shared with respondents and the wider education sector with the primary purpose of providing insight and best practice advice and to identify the tools and technologies needed to suit the future needs of the education sector.