With the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019 (#WUSCA) fast approaching, we caught up with Ann Wilber, Recruitment Marketing Manager at the University of Glasgow, to find out how winning the International Category at the 2018 awards has benefited staff, students and the broader university community. For WUSCA 2018, over 36,000 students from across the UK cast their votes across a variety of categories, including ‘University Facilities’, ’Job Prospects’ and ‘Accommodation’. Of 148 participating institutions, the University of Glasgow came out on top as voted for by international students. Here’s what Ann had to share.
Why do you think the University of Glasgow won the ‘International’ category at WUSCA 2018?
Our international students are generally very satisfied and happy living and studying at the University of Glasgow. We’ve created a warm and welcoming environment and our staff members are known for being particularly friendly and passionate about what they do. I think this rubs off on our students. Our international students often comment on how the local people go out of their way to make them feel welcome. When you ask for directions in Glasgow, our locals are known for walking you to your destination! Many international students have told us that they find this extraordinary.
How do you go about welcoming and supporting international students?
We offer a jam-packed orientation programme, which includes many opportunities for students to get together and mingle. We have students from 140 different countries, which means that our campus culture is especially diverse and tolerant. Many of our international students (particularly those who come from the US) love our university’s historic buildings. They say that it feels as if they’re in a Gothic fairy tale!
How did the university celebrate and receive this award?
Winning the international category at the WUSCAs was a fantastic achievement for us and incredibly well received by our international community, which includes international alumni, agents and counsellors, and partners. It takes many people to win an award like this and it’s suitably been owned by everyone in our university community.
We made sure to shout about it on our social media channels and via our marketing communications, and our staff members added the winner’s badge to their email signatures. It’s been brilliant to see our international office and agents around the world using this award as a marketing tool when talking to prospective students. Overall, it’s been a boost for us, especially seeing that it’s the first award we’ve won in four years! On the awards evening, we all celebrated by going out dancing!
How has this award benefited your university in terms of recruitment?
I think that this award reaffirms the message to prospective students that we value the student voice and strive to meet the needs of our students. Our aim is to give our international students an outstanding experience that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. This award has helped our agents and counsellors in selling the University of Glasgow to prospective students. The fact that the WUSCAs is based on independent student reviews gives it a lot of credibility and also makes institutions aware of how to continuously improve the student experience.
How has winning this award benefited your university in terms of brand development?
I think that it’s inspired us to continue driving home the message that students are at the heart of everything we do, from providing student-focused facilities to having the most passionate lecturers.
How has winning this award boosted the morale of students and staff at the university?
We work year-round to ensure that our students have a fantastic experience, so when that gets recognised it means a lot to all of us. Importantly, I think this award has reaffirmed our students’ decisions of choosing the University of Glasgow in the first place.
In your opinion, what makes this award so valuable?
The fact that it independently represents the student voice, telling us that we are getting things right. All we want at the end of the day is happy students. It’s also hugely valuable, as it may be the final push prospective students need when deciding where to study.
How has winning this award guided your future strategies?
We want to keep listening to students to continuously improve the student experience and give them a warm welcome to minimise the culture shock of moving to a new country. In terms of the WUSCAs, we’ve now set a new benchmark for ourselves to win even more categories at WUSCA 2019!
Find out more about the Whatuni Student Choice Awards and how your students can get involved.