Read our education marketing insights wrap up


On day one of the EdTech conference in Melbourne, I had the absolute pleasure of hearing from Pascale Quester, the Vice-Chancellor of Swinburne University. Pascale is a former marketer – which we love in a VC. I find that brand reputation grows when you have a VC who understands the benefit of a marketing communications and recruitment focused model.

As someone who has been closely watching the incredible content that Swinburne has been producing of late – click here to check out some of their epic UGC – I was pumped to hear what she had to say on the future of education.

Here are my insights from each session on the first day!


Technology is driving change and transforming learning


This session highlighted how Swinburne’s dual-sector offering across TAFE and University means they have a unique perspective and broader representation of the edu cohort. Fun fact: there are only six dual-sector Universities in Australia, four of which are in Victoria.

To paraphrase Pascale, “the expectation of learners has changed, in their willingness and capacity to express their needs. Students have become more confident in telling us what and how they want to learn. We must now engage them with authentic experiences and assessment, offer them licence to design parts of their own education, and be the centre of their learning process.”


Listen to the student voice


What really stood out for me in this session was how Swinburne is creating more space for the student voice within campus planning, curriculum design, assessment and the student experience. At the moment, Swinburne are re-designing their new campus heart, and there has been a lot of feedback from professional staff and academics around the way it should be set-up, but Pascale is saying ‘this is for students, not for you’.


On-campus exams, be gone!


One of our education partners, Deakin, is another university that is responding to the student voice in its approach to exams – even with campuses back open, they are not moving back to on-campus exams, they are now all digital, and a lot are open book. A recent Deakin student round table had students saying, “DO NOT BRING ON-CAMPUS EXAMS BACK.”

Hear this, and tell me this concept isn’t archaic. “We are asking students to sit in a room, writing for 3 hours, in silence, WITH A PEN. Great, we’ve tested their capacity to sit quietly with a stick in their hand.”

Universities seem to be adapting to how the students actually want to learn. Is it a bit late? Yes. But I am glad we’ve made some of these changes. As an employer of marketing graduates, the grade you got in your brand management exam has never been important to us.


Showcase the digital learning experience


There have been some incredible discussions today around education technology and the investments education providers are making to change the learning experience but I am not seeing institutions showcasing the unique experience of digital learning enough – no one is doing this well from an advertising or digital content point of view.

It has made me think, is our marketing content too focused on career outcomes and graduate testimonials, and are we missing showcasing the actual current student experience and specifically, what the learning experience looks like per provider? Do we need to, as a cohort of education providers, showcase more of the university sector’s commitment to change?


Foster meaningful connections


Pascale also mentioned that in 2021, students started asking for in-person lectures back… (we all laughed and many eyebrows were raised) but her thought was that it’s actually the desire for quality lectures. Lectures with the key purpose of engaging content, as opposed to just for helping achieve a learning outcome.

Post-COVID, students have a stronger desire to engage with each other and universities need to create more space to allow deeper connection with other students and academics. She asked us, how can we create a place where students want to be, not have to be? Students have missed the social connection, so the universities offering this will win.

HOWEVER, through a lot of the Open Day campaigns we’ve just wrapped up, one of the key things we noticed is we’re still seeing lower registrations for on-campus Open Day events compared to pre-COVID times. Is this because the traditional Open Day model doesn’t give students anything different to what they can access online, or is there still a hesitancy to be back in big groups of strangers?


To summarise


Universities that adjust their student experience to really LISTEN to what students are looking for, are the ones who will succeed.

I’m really hopeful off the back of this session, that the learning experience is changing. And I’d like to see more universities really speaking to what they are offering to better differentiate them in the market.

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