The Think Student Awards are the only awards of their kind - judged by the students themselves - and they’re all about measuring real impact. From institutions making an impact on the world, to conveying brand purpose and highlighting the power of education to transform students’ lives, these campaigns went above and beyond to make a difference. 

Hats off to those shortlisted; these institutions have supported their students in one of the toughest academic years on record. But, through harnessing the power of social media and understanding the potential of the platforms, these institutions have curried favour with the students. But the question remains - who took home the gold?

Here are the winning Social Impact Champions, judged by our very own Student Pulse panel:

(Images will be coming soon.)

Best Use of User Generated Content: BIMM Institute: Music at the heart

As part of the #MusicMadeUs Campaign, Music Made Me provided BIMM students with a film camera and a chance to show the music city they are part of. Creating organic images of students enjoying their life at BIMM.

“The students were really impressed by the authentic, student-led approach to this campaign, using music as a universal language to connect with all of their students, no matter what their background.”

Runner-up: University of Aberdeen

Best Campaign Supporting Sustainability: University of Leeds: #2023 plastic free

Leeds was faced with a dilemma: How to get students to reduce their purchase of single-use plastic water bottles and switch to refillable alternatives? Through a design competition, the #2023plasticfree pledge encouraged students to get creative and showcase their work campus-wide. 260 students took part, with the winning poster illustrating that with every plastic bottle we throw out, we pose a threat to animals that share the ground we walk on. And this message resonated with the students.

“Our panel felt that this empowering campaign made a real, measurable difference and allowed the students to really get involved.”

Runner-up: University of Bristol Students Union

Best Campaign Supporting Student Wellbeing: Plymouth College of Arts Student Union: Food bank

Plymouth College of Arts Student Union is run by a small team focused on student wellbeing, mental health and welfare, providing an inclusive, welcoming environment. The dedication of the SU really shines at Plymouth College of Art, with president Harriet running the SU Food Bank from her flat during the first lockdown, hand-packing and coordinating the delivery of parcels of food, sanitary products and toiletries to students self-isolating or experiencing financial hardship. 

“The students loved how Plymouth College of Art went above and beyond to support their students during the pandemic, providing tangible help and access to essential items.”

Runner-up: UCLAN Students’ Union

Best Campaign Supporting Diversity: The Union, Manchester Metropolitan University: The big change project

Championing BAME Ambassadors, The Union, a student-led scheme at Manchester Met, created the Big Change Project. The project involved senior leaders from faculties across the university and Students’ Union putting themselves forward for interviews with BAME Ambassadors - bringing in-depth conversations that often happen behind closed doors, out onto social media for the students to get involved in, improving the quality of BAME student educational experiences and committing to making a positive change for the future.

“The student panel were impressed with how BAME students were truly at the heart of this campaign, giving them a voice in key conversations and allowing their voices to be heard.”

Runner-up: Blackpool Sixth

Best Campaign Promoting International Study: City, University of London: Key to city

The #KeyToCity campaign combined tech with novelty keys to get students, both close and far from home, excited about the year ahead. 

With a digital key and a QR code, students were given a novel way to connect to each other and their new home. As we know, connection is important, especially amid the pandemic, and City supported this campaign with email communications, encouraging students to share their experiences on social media, uniting students and keeping their spirits high as they returned to campus after a challenging year.

“The students loved the creativity of this campaign, giving students the chance to connect with others in the same boat and making great use of technology to bring people together during the pandemic.”

Runner-up: Coventry University

Best of Instagram: Manchester Metropolitan University: A glimpse of life

Manchester Metropolitan University used Reels to connect students with life at university through their ‘A Glimpse of Life at Manchester Met’ campaign. These campus snapshots provided useful insights into how to get around campus and what there is on offer. As well as a platform to celebrate success, such as dissertation hand-ins and the amazing things MMU students and alumni have achieved, that can be found around campus. Their account is more than just sharing information; it’s a way for students to connect with their surroundings, their peers, and more importantly their own student journey.

“The fun, interactive approach of this campaign impressed our student panel, with dynamic content that showed Manchester Met at its best, allowing prospective and current students to connect with the campus.”

Runner-up: Nottingham Trent University

And before we go, a shout out to our Platform Champions, powered by Edurank, the social ranking tool for the HE and FE sector. Showcasing the best Social Media Performance among UK Universities, UK Colleges, Business Schools and US Institutions. You can find all the details over on Edurank. Huge congratulations to every institution listed here for being truly the best of the best. 

And that’s a wrap for the 2021 Think Student Awards!

Article by

Eleana Davidson Native Author

Eleana Davidson

Senior Marketing Executive