So you’ve communicated your value across your undergraduate courses in the run-up to Clearing and Results Day, but what about your postgraduate opportunities? Do you know how your prospective students feel about applying for a Master’s course amid the pandemic? 

This month, Akero’s Student Pulse found that increasing numbers of students (47.1%) are saying they would prefer to go into work, rather than continue on to postgraduate education. 

postgraduate student statistics

But the numbers are still there. Applications to postgraduate taught courses are increasing 10% year on year. Your courses are still in demand. But students need to understand the value of postgraduate study, the financial support in place, and what a Master’s can do for a CV in this tough employment market. 

The Student Pulse revealed that institutions and their communications with their students are the number one factor in decision-making, followed closely by family and friends. So you’re in a strong position to convince the students that studying with you is an excellent choice. So, what now? ​

Before we delve into the tips and tricks you need to successfully nurture and engage your aspiring postgraduate students, let’s take a look at how they differ from their undergraduate counterparts. 

How do prospective postgraduate students differ from undergraduates?  ​

We know that students considering postgraduate study behave differently to those looking for undergraduate courses. To understand the key differences, we need to look at their motivations and barriers. Factors such as cost, proximity to home and flexibility are salient among postgraduate students, who are often older, looking to work alongside their studies, and have other commitments. Let’s delve deeper into the stats.

  • 7% more prospective postgraduate students (than undergraduates) say that affordability is very important in their decision making. 

  • 6% more postgraduate students reported that being close to home is ‘very important’ when compared to aspiring undergraduates. 

  • Postgraduate students are looking for study that fits around them, whereas 10% fewer undergraduate students prioritise flexibility. ​

Now you’ve heard the stats, here’s our guide to communicating the value of your postgraduate courses so you can get ahead of the competition. 

How should institutions position themselves to cater to their prospective students? 

1. Overhaul your positioning and messaging strategy

Your messaging needs to reassure students and leave no doubt in their minds that postgraduate study is the right option for them. Staying up-to-date with their latest thoughts and feelings is crucial so you can pivot your strategy as the recruitment period progresses. That’s where the Student Pulse comes in. But for now, take a look at how we helped NYU Stern School of Business address the students’ concerns in their postgrad Open to Excellence campaign

2. Inspire and engage the students 

They’re less interested in the what and more interested in the how. Make it easy for your students to access information on applying, grade requirements and what their next steps are. ​

Once your students know the how, focus on the what. Build creative and effective copy around job prospects after graduating, plus the benefits that studying with you will bring to their CV. Whether you’re promoting a course with vocational opportunities, excellent facilities or your careers service, use student success stories to allow your prospective students to step into their shoes. ​

3. Support your students holistically

Show your students that you’re there to support them. Just as the Akero team discussed in their Conversion Masterclass, students’ habits are changing in 2021/22 and so should your approach. Those looking to apply last-minute will expect 24/7 contact services to answer their questions. They’ll also be looking at how you support your students after graduation, in addition to your approach to mental health, as this was highlighted as a barrier to learning for 11.7% of those looking to study a postgraduate degree.

Generate excitement around studying through dynamic ads, student success stories, and user-generated content. Weave your key messaging into disruptive ads and copy that your prospective students can’t ignore. Whether it’s boosting job prospects, guaranteed milestone events like balls and graduation, or excellent support networks after graduation, you need to be shouting about what makes you unique. 

Recruitment in 2021/22 is anything but traditional, and attracting a downbeat demographic can be difficult. But with the right strategy you can change their perception of postgraduate education while tying together their pain points with your offerings. 


If you’re looking for more advice on how to attract and engage prospective postgraduate students, get in contact with us today. ​

Article by

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Lois King

Digital Marketing Assistant