Top five tips for teachers to build links with universities
Guest blog by Francesca Carey from the UK Student Recruitment Team at Brunel University London
I work with schools and colleges, teachers and advisers on a daily basis. Making informed course and university decisions benefits your students and us, as universities. So, we offer a variety of opportunities to find out about life at Brunel and what going to university is all about. Here are my top five tips on how to build effective links with universities:
1. Check out what’s already happening
There are a whole host of pre-existing events at universities that you can book to attend. For instance, at Brunel, we regularly invite school groups to Open Days, Inaugural Lectures, Public Lectures and arts events. These events are a great way to give your students an insight into a particular subject area and university life. They’re also fantastic opportunities to meet academics and student recruitment/schools liaison staff in person and potentially develop the working relationship. Drop the Student Recruitment Team/Schools Liaison Officer an email to ask how your school can be involved.
2. Know where your students go
This is really important. Take a look at which institutions your past students have gone on to in recent years. Making contact with these universities will maximise the opportunities on offer and also help to ensure your students find the experience relevant and engaging.
3. Content check - does this add anything?
We understand that you want to give your students the best possible chance of being successful in their university application, but applying to university is a formulaic process; we all look for similar things in personal statements, and the student finance process is dictated by the Government, not by the universities.
If your students have already had a presentation on budgeting for university, let the facilitator know what was covered. There’s nothing worse than standing in front of a group of 16 year olds hearing about the price of beans for the 5th time, apart from, I imagine, having to sit through a presentation on the price of beans for the 5th time!
It all goes back to helping us to do our best to make the experience relevant and engaging. We can deliver a standard Student Finance session to Year 13, but we’re more than happy to give a session on budgeting to a much younger cohort if given prior notice. Similarly, always bear in mind how the numbers of students participating might affect the way the session is delivered. If you’re after a practical session – small groups are great for that. If you’re after a standard speaker/audience session that can be delivered to a large number of students, consider if you can group year groups together to save the speaker repeating the same presentation over again.
4. Power in numbers: make links with neighbouring schools!
Consortiums of schools are on the rise and with good reason – pooled resource often equals more opportunity! Many of the higher education fairs and other events that universities are invited to list the other schools who will be in attendance. With a further audience reach on offer, the chance of attracting attendance from more universities is increased. You don’t necessarily need to be in a formal consortium arrangement – just make friends with your neighbours!
When making a request to a university for activities, I recommend offering at least three potential dates and ideally a half term’s notice. University teaching timetables are increasingly tight, so the more flexible you can be, and the more notice you offer, the more likely it is you will succeed.