University advertising to prospective students doubles in cost over three years

THE UNIVERSITY OF EXETER spent more money annually on advertising aimed at prospective students between 2010 and 2013. The University reported a total advertising spend, not including prospectuses and subject brochures, of £66,114 in 2012/13, an increase of 128.1 per cent on the figure of £28,982 in 2010/11. The spending on advertising has increased at a consistent rate, as the University spent £46,029 in 2011/12.

The spending in advertising has increased in contrast to the spending around prospectuses, which has stayed relatively consistent over the past few years. Spending on undergraduate prospectuses has only slightly increased from £97,432 to £105,308 over three years, whereas spending on postgraduate prospectuses has actually decreased from £28,518 to £14,978, hitting a lowest figure of £14,223 in 2011/12.

The increase in non-prospectus spending can be said to have encouraged a rise in acceptance numbers. The University of Exeter, as reported by theTimes Higher Education Supplement, has recorded a 35 per cent rise in acceptances of UK full-time undergraduates between 2011 and 2013, leading to an expanding student population.

When Exeposé contacted the Russell Group Universities, establishments such as Leeds reported recruitment advertising spending on prospective students as high as £564,900 (for 2011/12, including prospectuses). In contrast, universities such as the London School of Economics, Imperial College London, Bristol University and the University of Cambridge reported that they do not spend any money on advertising for prospective students.

A spokesperson for the University said: “The increase in advertising spend is entirely due to a non-recurring initiative to raise awareness in Cornwall of our Penryn Campus. The campaign worked exceptionally well, almost tripling the number of Cornish students at the campus, and contributing to a record level of undergraduate recruitment in Cornwall. We will continue to promote the Penryn Campus throughout Cornwall in the coming years, but by outreach to local schools rather than direct advertising. Our student advertising budget will therefore revert back to the minimal  levels of previous years”.

They added: “League table position is important to all universities and driven by a number of factors and metrics, however the amount of advertising spend is not one of them”.

Kayley Gilbert, a History student, commented: “It is encouraging that the growth in Univeristy spending on advertising has led to greater student intake, however it is worrying that this could lead to overcrowded on-campus accomodation”.


Author: Louis Doré

Freelance Journalist studying at City University, London on MA Newspaper Journalism.

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