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Durham University

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Understanding our students' journey to Durham, and beyond

(5 February 2021)

Have you ever wondered what makes our students select Durham over any other institution? What keeps them engaged as students while they are with us? And what brings them back to study as a postgraduate or connect with us as alumni? For the first time in our history, we are about to undertake an exercise to map our student journey and help us answer some of these fundamental questions. Not only this, but we’ll also be looking closely at how we attract and admit our students by better understanding the marketing, recruitment, and admissions activities we perform. Together, this will help us have a clearer picture of what we do today, and what we could do differently in the future to better meet the needs of our current and future students. Read on to find out more about this project and how you can get involved.

As a Top 100 global HE institution, we aspire to continually develop and grow our reputation, and our international presence. To support this, we need a student journey to rival the very best in the world.

The University Executive Committee has, therefore, initiated a project to better understand our current end-to-end student journey, and define the student journey we want to offer in the future.

Understanding our end-to-end student journey

This initial piece of work will map each step from the moment our prospective students first consider Durham, right through their time with us, and their relationship with the institution after graduation as valued alumni.

By talking and listening with the people who know and who do this work day in day out, we will be able to understand and map the current state of our student journey.

We will then use this intelligence, combined with industry best practice to benchmark our student journey, and identify a potential future student journey that is right for Durham University.

Once we have a clear picture of this, we plan to open it up to discussion, debate, and consultation. We hope this will be from April 2021, and we are keen for this to be an ongoing conversation that we are all part of.

Review of marketing, recruitment, and admissions activity

To have the very best students, we need to appeal to them wherever they may be in the world and develop a strong relationship with them that will lead to applications, conversion and enrolment of the strongest possible students from a diverse range of backgrounds.

We have historically been a selective University, heavily reliant on our home student market. While this market will always be important to us, we want to build a more diverse student body that at present, with students coming to Durham from a wider set of backgrounds and places than has hitherto been the case. And we want to do this at a time of growing national and international competition amongst the best Universities in the world as they seek, like us, to attract and recruit students with excellent potential and ability.

So, to recruit the best students, we must compare ourselves with the best institutions in the world, so we can compete effectively. This shift will require us to find new and innovative ways to reach and engage with our potential future students and convert them into enrolments.

This review seeks to build on the great work undertaken by the Recruiting the Next Generation of Students (RNGS) project. We want to build on this by going further and deeper to understand how we attract and convert students.

We expect this review will highlight ways we can improve our marketing, recruitment, and admissions activity in places, and will outline tangible changes that can be made in time for the 2021/22 admissions cycle. The project will also define areas where we can also improve for the 2022/23 recruitment cycle and beyond.

This is a review of the activity we do across the University that helps us to market to students, recruit and admit them to our institution. Importantly, it is not a review of the people or teams who do this work and is not a repeat of the MarComms review or the professional services work.

Have your say

We will be sharing more about these projects over the coming months and giving you the opportunities to have your say. John Hemingway, Chief Information Officer, is leading these projects on behalf of our Provost, Professor Antony Long. Any questions or comments should be directed to in the first instance.

John will be discussing this project at the upcoming Senior Leadership Townhall Meeting on Thursday 11 February 2021, 3.30pm - 4.30pm. To register to attend, click here.

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