Just about every element of our day to day lives has been impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak and those with businesses to run have had to adapt at pace to make sure they can keep their heads above water.
University applicants have had a double shock, not only are they studying at home now but their exams have been cancelled. So for thousands of applicants, their whole world has been turned upside down in just a few short weeks.
At this time of year most would be visiting UCAS events and visiting university open days to find their perfect course but under new restrictions, all activity has been cancelled.
Our enquiries team were getting lots of calls and questions so the team behind the Staffordshire University brand sprang into action and within two weeks had produced a series of three virtual open events to support applicants in their decisions.
The first event was for the Stafford Campus, closely followed only a week later for the Stoke Campus and finally the London Campus.
One of the biggest challenges for the team was making sure they had some spaces to work together and collaborate. Claire Frays, who works in the Marketing and Communication department commented “We are a really close knit team and lots of our ideas would be discussed in the kitchen, the lunch room or after work in The Ember Lounge (a bar) so Shaun Kelly created a fun hangout for us all so we could keep meeting whilst we were disconnected at home. It’s not only helped us to come up with the ideas quickly, it’s helped our mental health too, we’ve been sharing recipes and music so we feel like we are still together.”
There is no substitute for visiting a campus for real but we knew that lots of videos would be key to giving our applicants a taste of what was on offer. Jamie Sergeant, the Technical Specialist at our London campus was tasked with creating four videos in four days. “I jumped into action and filmed videos showcasing the specialist equipment, campus, and student experience. Once the campus closed, I was sure I had all the footage we needed and I could edit at home ready for the open day. This was a highly truncated schedule, normally this sort of thing would take a week per film. I hope the films will allow students to have a better understanding of our London Campus and what we can offer. It’s hard to communicate exactly what our courses can offer remotely, due to the specialist nature of the subjects and equipment, but my hope is that it gives an overview of what makes the London campus special and encourages people to visit the campus once we’re back.’
The experience has helped everyone in the University to work together. Each academic school has an Associate Dean for Recruitment and Laura Walton-Williams who works in the School of Law Policing and Forensics said; “As a group of Associate Deans, we have to work with teams across the University including Recruitment, Marketing and Education Liaison and this experience has inspired us all to work as a team to produce innovative talks and masterclasses for our applicants. The positive approach to transitioning to a completely online way of working gave confidence to colleagues and empowered them to adapt other aspects of their delivery.’
Juliette Platts who works in the Outreach team and organises The National Saturday Club had to suspend activities on campus but was keen for it not to affect the club members. “We’ve adapted and changed the Saturday Clubs to online webinars to discuss topics and they include interactive practical sessions where members can demonstrate their work and ask questions with tutors. We also delivered Art and Science packs to club members including sketch books, paints, pencils and canvases plus engineering and science kits. This meant the club members could still participate in and continue the club activities with our guidance. We’ve even got involved in offering advice on home schooling to parents because we know how stressful it can be.”
But it’s not all about work, we also want our applicants to know what a lively community they are coming into when they join Staffordshire University and Marshall Hitipeuw who works at the London campus – home to the University’s BA (Hons) Esports – said: “In the wake of our in-person recruiting events being cancelled we were left with a large hole in our outreach activity. As well as our virtual open days I’ve been organising online games tournaments with the help of our current students. Our first event will be a 64-man worldwide FIFA tournament organised and managed by two first-year students that will bring our applicants and student communities together and give them a feel for the kind of fun activities we do outside of class.”
Staffordshire University is at the forefront of what it means to be curious and daring, the team behind the brand are no exception and have whole heartedly made us #proudtobestaffs.
Rachel Gowers, Director of Staffordshire University London