Enhancing Southampton Univeristy's E-induction: A Case Study in Best Practices for Student Engagement and Belonging
As part of the University of Southampton’s response to Unite Students ‘Living Black at University’ report, we embarked on a collaborative project to revolutionise the University’s E-induction for incoming students. Our aim was to introduce the fantastic work being done in the University to new students, and to provide essential arrivals information to give students the best start to the academic year.
Here are our shared tips for success.
Tip #1 Start with a clear aim
Understand your key objectives and how to measure them. The aim should be short, simple, specific, and written in language that is easy to understand.
From our first project meeting with UoS the aim was clear; ‘to increase the sense of belonging for students at the University of Southampton’.
Once we had our aim we were able to build our objectives
💡 To encourage a sense of community
💡 To signpost to support services available at the wider University
💡 To amplify the student's voice
With a clear aim, you’re more easily able to define success. We built our aim, and objectives, into the reporting functions available in Browzer Welcome to clearly show areas of success.
This also provides a great benchmark to monitor year-on-year performance.
Tip #2 Set the tone before arrivals
Reduce anxiety and increase excitement. Before students even arrive, their journey begins. Once they secure their spot at the university, they start envisioning their new life and seek answers to numerous questions.
These discussions unfold online and on social media, with or without your involvement. Being part of these conversations is crucial, as your team can offer valuable guidance.
The platform that powers the e-induction is called ‘Browzer Welcome’. This is a mobile-first, student-friendly platform that gives students all the information they need to know before starting university. We enhance the content and identify areas where additional information and video content can make a difference. Furthermore, the platform includes robust analytics to track completion rates, performance, and engagement, ensuring ongoing improvement.
Tip #3 Above all else, be authentic
Actions speak louder than words. To create a sense of belonging for students, actions must embody authenticity. We incorporated input from Southampton students in our project, creating a partnership that offered detailed, genuine insights.
Our approach included:
💡 Peer-led video content featuring real students sharing experiences and tips.
💡 A diverse range of students from various backgrounds in the content.
💡 A dedicated section on the University's 'Student Charter' for respect and understanding.
💡 Clear guidance to professional support services at the University.
Throughout the student journey, emphasize diversity representation to help new students see themselves in the university community, accelerating their sense of belonging.
Tip #4 Make your media work harder
Maximise the value of your assets. Video is everywhere — it’s the most effective way to inspire, to motivate, to get your message across.
When you produce a piece of content, whether it be an image or a video, think about how many places it could be relevant, and how many times it could be used in the future.
This will help get more life — and more value — from these assets, increasing the ROI and justifying the initial outlay to do things properly.
For example, your latest Instagram Reel may, with a re-edit, be suitable to post on TikTok, YouTube Shorts, or whatever platform comes next. Or the arrivals video you posted this September could be re-posted NEXT September. It just needs someone to plan ahead to schedule it a year in advance.
By building this notion into our video project briefs, we were able to create video assets that were not only suitable to embed into the Welcome but also were suitable for posting on social media as standalone content.
We measure the lifespan of these videos in years, not weeks, so they can be relevant for future generations of Southampton students and provide more value to the University.
We're incredibly proud of the project's positive impact in its first year.
The 'Living Black at University' report sheds light on crucial issues of student belonging, emphasising the need for ongoing efforts to ensure a welcoming and supportive environment.
While Browzer Welcome has shown success, we're currently analysing its performance to enhance the student experience. Our commitment to learning and adapting remains unwavering, ensuring we stay relevant to student culture and address unique challenges each academic year.