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Education Advisory Board

Julia Weston

Current role: Head of Marketing and Communications, Faculty of Life Sciences at UCL

Why did you join the EAB?
I’ve worked in higher education marketing and communications for over 25 years and still find I’m learning new things! I gained a lot from the time I spent working with Jane and the team at Penna and I wanted to continue learning both from them and from peers in the sector. The broad spectrum of universities represented and the added value of input from specialists across the sector makes this a great opportunity for sharing and learning.

What key aspects you feel need to be discussed/addressed across our sector?
I think sustainability and climate change are very important to us as institutions, leading the way in research and expertise, as well in helping the next generation tackle these issues. This needs to come across clearly in our communications. The value of university education and the benefits it brings both to society and to individuals needs to be clearly understood and demonstrated.We need to ensure we are enabling widening participation and supporting equality, diversity and inclusion.

What do you think of the EAB sessions?
The sessions are informative and often thought provoking. It is really useful to hear from others about their challenges and solutions, and to understand emerging trends.

Catherine Thomson

Current Role: Head of Marketing and Communications, Robert Gordon University

Why did you join the EAB?
Joining RGU in September 2021 was not only a relocation of over 500 miles from London to Aberdeen; it was an opportunity to work in a very different university to the ones at which I’d spent my career to that point (UCL and Warwick).Meeting the Penna team went hand in hand with meeting my new colleagues: right from the start they felt like an extension of the RGU team. As I got to grips with student recruitment marketing at RGU, the Penna team’s insight and experience has proven invaluable. Joining the EAB was an obvious way of enriching that engagement and to connect with peers across the sector at the same time. In my experience, UK higher education is like an extended neighbourhood, where there’s an inspiring sense of camaraderie and willingness to support each other in addressing the common challenges and opportunities across our universities.

What do you think of the EAB sessions?
EAB meetings offer a regular opportunity to stay abreast of key developments relating to student recruitment marketing, and it’s always a pleasure to share experiences and ideas with peers across the sector.

Mhari MacDonald

Current Role: Head of Marketing, University of Dundee. Mhari manages a team of 20 to produce and implement marketing plans for schools and regions. Most of our work aims to generate interest in the University of Dundee from prospective students in priority international markets. We do this through a wide range of marketing tactics, but mainly focus on digital advertising.

Why did you join the EAB?
I joined the Penna EAB because I could see it would be a great opportunity to share ideas and to learn from colleagues who work in the same field. It’s also an excellent place to network, to meet people from other Universities and to discuss similar challenges and opportunities. Student recruitment is always at the forefront of my mind when I consider the sector, but particularly international student recruitment. International student recruitment is constantly evolving so discussions about remaining agile to adapt to the changes are key.

What do you think of the EAB sessions?
I find the EAB sessions very helpful and are an opportunity to step away from the emails and Teams messages for an hour to think about the bigger picture and the more strategic topics. I often find myself thinking about the topics for several days after the sessions are held.

Ailie Ferrari

Current Role: Associate Director, Advertising, Marketing & Student Insight at the University of Bradford

Why did you join the EAB?
With nearly 15 years’ experience in the sector, one thing I’ve learned is that Higher Education is both cyclical and constantly changing. Thanks to the team at Penna, the EAB gives me the opportunity to explore current issues and engage with colleagues from across the sector, benefitting from a range of different perspectives.

What key aspects you feel need to be discussed/addressed across our sector?
Our audience understanding needs to evolve as the world has changed. How we work within our teams and across the University also needs a re-think. Equality, diversity and inclusion, along with sustainability, need to be at the core of everything we do.

What do you think of the EAB sessions?
The sessions bring key topics to the table, with specialist input and an open environment for discussion. They are very thought-provoking and, as always, it’s what you do with what you learn that counts.

Jane Scott

Current role: Director of Marketing and Communications at Queen Margaret University

Why did you join the EAB?
To learn from the great community of senior higher education marketers, and agency experts, and to share knowledge with them.

What key aspects you feel need to be discussed/addressed across our sector?
With marketing, marketing technologies, and the operating environment changing so fast, there is always lots to discuss. On my mind at the moment is capitalising on technological developments, for example to all allow better personalisation in marketing communications, and to allow better evaluation of return on investment. More broadly, keeping abreast of the impact of AI in its widest sense seems key, along with consideration of the impact of the demise of third party cookies on advertising, the impact of changing demographics on the pool of prospective students, and the legislative context. Those are just a few examples of topics worth discussing.

What do you think of the EAB sessions?
I enjoy the diversity of content and the informal approach. I like the fact that presentations are brief and to the point.

Trina Everall

Current role: Founder and managing director of stori - a storytelling agency

Why did you join the EAB?
Regular meet-ups with people who are incredibly experienced, knowledgeable and interested in a subject I feel passionately about - education. What's not to like?

What key aspects you feel need to be discussed/addressed across our sector?
Access to higher and further education. I believe education should be accessible to all and it's the reason I focus on storytelling. If we see and hear inspirational stories from people who look and sound like us, we can imagine ourselves learning and growing more than we ever thought possible. We need to be investing in and supporting future generations to succeed. Traditional routes don't suit all and first-generation learners need parental engagement. Those are two good places to start!

What do you think of the EAB sessions?
Refreshing, informative and wonderful to see new and familiar faces.

Donald McLeod

Current role: Director of Change and Transformation (Digital) at University of East London.  My team's focus is the delivery of optimal customer journeys through the University's key digital platforms - web, crm and social media with a focus on process improvement and implementation of automation

Why did you join the EAB?
Higher education is a diverse and complex environment with a variety of different organisations operating and competing against each other. Having worked in the sector for over 20 years, I have always appreciated the opportunity to meet with colleagues from other institutions to discuss our shared challenges and experiences. The EAB provides an excellent forum for these discussions; in what are likely to be challenging times over the next few years.

What do you think of the EAB sessions?
Informative, strategic and good fun.