Fundamental Media Insights


Media buying and planning

How Covid-19 has changed the mindset of prospective students

The concerns of prospective university students have changed since the pandemic

Key points:

  • More than half of prospective students are worried about getting a job when they graduate, a percentage that has doubled since the start of the pandemic
  • Many prospects are concerned that Virtual Open Days will not provide enough information
  • Universities could aim to take away some of these concerns within their messaging by providing more information on topics such as the future employment prospects for undergraduates and how Covid-19 will affect undergraduate study

The concerns of prospective students have shifted since the start of Covid-19, but universities could take away some of these worries by adapting their messaging.

Fundamental Media has conducted desk research and found that more than half of prospective students are worried about getting a job when they graduate, a percentage that has doubled since the start of the pandemic. According to a report by the Student Room, 63% of 2021 applicants and 67% of 2022 aplicants were concerned about getting a job after finishing their studies. Before the pandemic, this was 29% and 28% respectively.

Covid-19 has affected the university choice of 22% of 2021 entry respondents, while 14% said their subject choice had been affected. Not being able to attend open days had limited the university choices of some, while others are considering more local universities due to the uncertainty of whether classes will take place on campus or online only.

Just over half of 2021 entry respondents said they have enough information to make their UCAS application. Almost three-quarters (74%) wanted universities to tell them how Covid-19 would affect their studies and student life.

Due to the lockdown and social distancing, many universities have started offering Virtual Open Days to prospective students and it seems almost all of them planned to use this opportunity. However, many prospects are concerned that these events will not provide enough information.

Only 14% of 2021 entry respondents in the Student Room survey found Virtual Open Days very useful and just 2% were completely confident they would provide all the information needed to make a decision. Two-thirds were open to applying to universities they had never visited before, although first in family and free school meal respondents less so.

Course information and taster sessions were the most sought-after features 59% of respondents wanted to hear more about the specifics of the course and 51% wanted to attend taster lectures or workshops to see what the teaching would be like.

Just over half of 2021 entry respondents said they have enough information to make their UCAS application. Almost three-quarters (74%) wanted universities to tell them how Covid-19 would affect their studies and student life.

Virtual events and other communications need to provide information but also showcase what life is like for a student at that university. Just 28% of 2021 entry respondents said Virtual Open Days gave them a feel for the university.

Universities could aim to take away some of these concerns within their messaging by providing more information on topics such as the future employment prospects for undergraduates and how Covid-19 will affect undergraduate study, as well as providing more taster lectures and workshops.

Insights Media buying and planning How Covid-19 has changed the mindset of prospective students