Student Mindset Conference agenda

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Early choices: key insights to prepare for the next generation

Replace the myths and generalisations about Gen Z and Gen Alpha with huge new insights from UCAS. Use our research to see how pupils in Years 9 to 12 really view their future choices.

  • University or other progression routes?
  • Future career paths and workplaces?
  • Jobs that might not exist yet?

We can now reveal these hard-to-reach mindsets to help you understand their considerations. Plus how these decision-making experiences affect the choices they ultimately make. With significant qualitative and quantitative discoveries – plus tips to refine your recruitment strategies and the channels you use – you’ll be perfectly positioned to reach your future applicants.


Jo Richards, Senior Insight Lead – UCAS

Gaining understanding of students and applicants – across behaviour, satisfaction, and experience – means Jo can help you place them at the heart of your strategies.

Overseeing UCAS’ approach to insight across their customer groups and markets, Jo has previously set up and developed market research teams in universities – including as Associate Director of Market Research and Insight at the University of Warwick, and Head of Market Intelligence and Strategy at the University of Liverpool.

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Student decision making - the hidden factors

There are some very influential psychological factors that drive school and college leavers to choose their university and future path. But these aren’t always obvious. Hear more about what these influences are from a leading expert. Discover why they are so powerful when it comes to decision making. Get some great insight from the UCAS early choices report from a psychological perspective, to help you tap into student mindsets.


Katharina is a Business Psychologist and Managing Director at IB. Together with the IB team, she advises businesses on how to integrate Psychology, Behavioural Science and strategy into business activities to create more commercial impact.

She has advised global brands such as HSBC, Virgin Atlantic, UCAS, Guidedogs, the BBC and many others in relation to finding the hidden psychological influences on retention, purchase decisions, engagement and trust and how brands build these insights into their communications, marketing and business strategies.

She has a great understanding of the strategies that can be applied to change organisations’ cultures and people’s behaviours as well as the importance of uncovering people’s conscious vs non-conscious behaviour.

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Deep dive: influences and role models

What are students planning for their futures, what drives them and helps them make these choices? Megan Edwards will talk through the qualitative analysis from the survey, with a focus on the factors and individuals shaping their decision-making, who influences them and why, and how you can use this insight in your recruitment strategies.


Megan Edwards, Principal Insight Consultant, UCAS

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The art of connection

Making meaningful connections with prospective students is essential for effective student recruitment. This session will provide research-backed insights to help you understand and engage this audience across the decision-making journey. We’ll explore findings from SMRS MediaMapper, a unique research project into prospective student media habits and consumption preferences, to understand the best channels and strategies for connecting in different contexts. 

Armed with these data-driven insights, you’ll be equipped to evolve outreach and marketing efforts in an increasingly competitive environment, and you’ll leave with a clearer understanding of how to align your approach to engage, recruit, and support prospective students more effectively at each step of their journey.


Jon Kirk, Lead Client Partner, SMRS

Smita Chohan, Client Partner, SMRS

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Antiviral content: Life after social media

Social media has peaked. Every other person on LinkedIn has a podcast, Mr Beast is teaching at Harvard, and Meta just launched Threads to the tune of 100 million users. But here are some other metrics:

  • Cases of teen depression have doubled since 2010.
  • Community-driven sites like Reddit and Twitter are becoming pay-to-play.
  • Google has just announced that EVERYTHING it indexes will now be used to train AI.

Put differently, we’re at a crossroads.

As marketers, we can either turn a blind eye, feed the machines and risk the health of future generations. Or, we can choose to create something meaningful that gives young people a sense of hope, connection and, maybe, helps them discover their place in the world.

Join Kyle Campbell, Founder of Education Marketer, for a new playbook. One not just rooted in building engaged audiences, but creating content that is never forgotten.


Kyle Campbelll, Founder and Managing Director of Education Marketer

Every week on a Tuesday, Kyle publishes the Education Marketer Newsletter, a quirky overview of higher ed news, analysis and demand gen strategies. He is one of The PIE's top 50 voices in international education, and brings over a decade of experience for education marketers looking to build and monetise student audiences. He likes Nintendo.

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Delivering what your future students really need

What do your future students actually want on their journey to studying with you? And are you delivering it?

In this session, Emma Froud and Poppy Hall from Unibuddy will take you on a whistle-stop tour of student mindsets today, and how they're evolving with your 2024 and 2025 cohorts. They'll also demonstrate how you can tailor your student experience from discovery through to arrival, and beyond, by building scalable student communities that resonate with each and every applicant. 


  • Emma Froud: With over 15 years of experience working in higher education, starting as a postgraduate researcher in social mobility and most recently working as Head of Student Recruitment and Widening Participation at both Oxford Brookes and Queen Mary University of London, Emma Froud is passionate about educational equity and making sure that students from a diverse range of backgrounds have access to the same opportunities. Emma now works as Unibuddy's Director of Business Development, working with organisations across the UK to better engage and support students throughout their higher education journey.
  • Poppy Hall: With 10 years of experience working in marketing and events roles, Poppy Hall currently heads up the Industry Marketing function at Unibuddy, where she's been for the past four years. Leading on Unibuddy's events, thought leadership, and PR strategies, Poppy is especially focussed on taking our market and student insights to encourage collaborative working within the Higher Ed space. Having previously worked at Royal Holloway, University of London, Poppy brings this student recruitment facing experience in to inform her day-to-day at Unibuddy.

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