When Queen Mary University launched Unibuddy, they had high expectations.
They saw the platform as an opportunity to engage more with their prospective students, to enhance their reputation as an open, accessible university, and to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
They had long recognised the value of their ambassadors, making strong use of them at Open Days, school visits and UCAS Fairs.
They wanted to give them a voice and make them even more approachable.
And of course they hoped for impact, not just on the quality of every applicant’s journey, but on the numbers of students applying and accepting their offers.
So they launched Unibuddy in Spring 2017.
Queen Mary had an abundance of well-trained ambassadors, and chose 30 to pilot the platform. They embedded Unibuddy on their website and put in clear, high profile links on the main navigation elements of their website.
The conversations started: questions from students making their final UCAS choices; students who had accepted their place, looking for support and reassurance with their preparations to come to London to study; and students from across the world starting to make their first enquiries about study.
The conversation topics were extensive and wide ranging; detailed questions about the course content and teaching style, chats about the accommodation, and discussions on life in East London.
What they all had in common was a focus on the real student experience. Prospective students wanted to know what life and study was actually like at Queen Mary – from someone who was experiencing it first-hand.
“The best things about Unibuddy? The fact that applicants can log in and ask questions whenever they want, no matter where they are in the world.”
In their first six months, nearly 800 students used Unibuddy. 30.6% were existing applicants for 2017 entry, with the remainder new enquirers to the University. Some came to ask a question or two, while others stayed, chatted, and developed a fantastic dialogue with the ambassadors.
The impact on enrolment was significant. Student who used Unibuddy and had accepted their offer were 34.8% more likely to enrol than those who did not.
Perhaps most importantly, the students love using the platform. In a survey of users, 100% said that using Unibuddy made them feel more positively about Queen Mary.