Sun, sea, sand and sexing up clearing

August 17, 2007

Universities are embracing the latest technological trends in a bid to make themselves heard amid the annual clamour of clearing.

This year has seen campaigns targeting social networking websites, while universities have produced podcasts giving advice on clearing and are offering their own mobile phone ringtones.

As well as marketing its courses at the "V" music festival this month, Staffordshire University will be testing the impact of advertising on networking site Bebo. Graham Brown, Staffordshire direct marketing manager, said: "We're using Bebo because it allows us to attract students globally, as well as focusing on 18 to 19-year-olds across the West Midlands and Cheshire, where 80 per cent of the students we recruit through clearing come from.

"The costs are low and trends suggest that this audience is more likely to consume our message online than via print advertising."

Thames Valley University has produced a chat-show-style video for its website after it polled more than 1,300 pupils and found more than two thirds were not confident that they knew how clearing worked.

Wolverhampton University has a clearing video on the video clip website YouTube.

As part of its radio advertising campaign, University of Wales Institute Cardiff has produced a soundtrack students can download to mobile phones. Ben Lee, UWIC's marketing officer, said: "Around 90 per cent of our target audience of 15 to 24-year-olds own a mobile phone."

Southampton Solent University is sponsoring the weekly chart show on local radio station Power FM .

Plymouth University is holding a clearing event on Fistral beach in Newquay. Students and career advisors will be on hand for support and advice, while at the British Surf Association headquarters, the university is installing laptops and phone lines for prospective students.

Huddersfield University is piloting a mobile-phone format that students can request either via their mobiles or through the university's website.

In the trial version, would-be students can receive information about courses, career options and special programme features, straight to their mobile.

The university has reported that tests involving small focus groups of students were "highly encouraging", and it is planning to launch the full service this autumn.

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