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The move to digital, which was fast-tracked as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, has seen a 36.9% increase year-on-year in provisional acceptance offers made to possible future Nelson Mandela University students.

In less than six months, from 1 April, in moving from traditional, face-to-face marketing to a new integrated digital strategy, the University has received some 45 000 applications from prospective students.  It expects this figure to markedly increase before late applications close on 30 September.

“The move to digital has given us a greater reach and greater visibility on a national scale. It has also allowed us to be more focused in our approach,” said head of the University’s student recruitment, Jo-Ann Daniels.

“We are a University whose overriding mandate is that of being in the service of society, and even more so in times of crisis. We’ve had to adapt to do so to remain cutting edge and sustainable.”

She said that while a digital first approach had been key, the role of radio as a powerful medium was still crucial, especially in reaching those who may not have access to social media platforms.

“The radio component of our integrated efforts has also been hugely impactful. There is a direct correlation in applications from those areas where our campaign advertisements were flighted.”

With the Student Recruitment team hastily upskilled to implement the new digital strategy, the dedicated student recruitment webpages were revamped, faculty marketing webinars hosted and a digital first approach introduced for its various recruitment campaigns. The switch had also helped to build brand recognition for the institution nationally.

“More and more people are getting to know about Nelson Mandela University, and what it stands for,” she said, referring to the increase in general inquiries from prospective students online.

Supporting analytics, derived from the integrated strategy, had shown an increase in the level of quality of the applications, and hence the institution’s ability to make more provisional offers to students who meet the criteria for their chosen qualifications.  

Dedicated websites

The University’s student recruitment website MyFuture@Mandela with its supporting Study@Mandela webpage have seen excellent growth.  The combined student recruitment social media efforts – on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the website – reached 620 000 individuals, with the Study@Mandela webpage garnering 109 385-page views between 10 July and 3 August alone.

Digital Open Days

With no possibility of hosting the usual Open Days as a one-stop opportunity to view what programmes are on offer on the University’s Port Elizabeth campuses and its George Campus, the University introduced a series of faculty-specific webinars.

These early evening virtual events, hosted by the Executive Deans, gave each faculty the opportunity to showcase its offerings to principals, teachers, prospective students and their families from around the country.

With online applications still accepted until the end of the month, prospective students may access the recorded webinars for more information on the respective faculty offerings via the link…

Digital Campaigns

Key metrics supporting the University ‘s Undergraduate Closing Date Campaign to increase awareness, educate audiences, engage with prospective students but ultimately to get them to apply, garnered 2.6 million social media impressions, 2.1million Google AdWord impressions (including nearly 74 000 interactions and was heard by 3.1 million radio listeners.

It has translated into 12 482 students receiving provisional acceptance to study at Nelson Mandela University, dependent on their final matric results. This amount excludes international provisional acceptance offers.

The exposure from the digital campaigns was to a great cross-section of potential students across quintiles and all nine provinces, but also to those aged 45 to 60, colloquially known as “influencer groups”, such as parents and educators.

Role of Radio

Supporting the above, an extensive national radio campaign in five of the official South African languages, across a range of national and community radio stations, was included to reach communities who may not have had access to the undergraduate closing date information.

Contact information
Mrs Jo-Ann Daniels
Deputy-Director: Marketing and Student Recruitment
Tel: 041-504 3084