More money for marketing
According to the University budget for 2015, international marketing will be getting a bigger piece of the pie: the department budget has been bumped up by 272,000 euros per year for 2015 and 2016. This year, their budget is 459,000 euros.
Communications director Piet Bouma says that the department’s actual budget was 252,000 euros in 2014 (including an ‘extra’ 75,000 euros) and 177,000 euros in 2013.
Marketing coordinator Jessica Winters says the increased funding should help the RUG become more competitive in attracting more international students. ‘We needed to catch up with the rest of Holland’, says Winters. ‘We were behind, but now, we’re the same’.
The budget increase has also made it possible for the department to employ two additional full-time staff members: an online marketer and a junior fair officer. That means that promoting the RUG on social media and at university fairs will become more of a shared responsibility.‘We can have a personal life again’, Winters jokes.
Winters explains that her department plans to use the funding to become more active online, attend more university fairs and encourage stakeholders – such as careers councillors and international baccalaureate schools – to become involved. ‘In the past, we would work mainly ad-hoc’, Winters says. ‘Now, we have time to set up a decent strategy instead of just running after the facts.’
The RUG International Alumni Ambassadors (IAA) network is another area that Winters hopes to develop further and has been working with international alumni officer Isma Moualhi to do this. ‘I would like [the ambassadors] to be a big part of the strategy’, says Winters, ‘but there’s still a lot of stuff to work out.’
International Alumni Ambassadors
Moualhi says the ambassadors will play a big role in the University’s wider marketing strategies and encourages all students to get involved. ‘When people choose an education abroad, they are looking for social proof’, she says.
Moualhi aims to start an online forum on the RUG website that will give prospective students easy access to the ambassadors. ‘Right now, it’s not very interactive’, Moualhi says, but she believes the project will enhance the ambassadors’ online presence.
‘There’s no better marketing than an alumnus saying that you’re the best’, says Winters. However, the alumni are not always ‘up to speed’ on developments at the University, and Winters highlights the potential problem with training the ambassadors in March for a season of promoting that typically begins later in September. A combination of marketing tools must therefore be employed alongside the alumni ambassadors, Winters says.