Universities UK Appoints MHP To Promote Universities

MHP Communications has been appointed by Universities UK to develop and launch the first part of a major public-facing campaign, MadeAtUni, to promote the public good of universities.

At a time when the UK’s higher education sector is under increased scrutiny from the media and politicians, MHP is helping to devise a campaign which showcases the impact that universities have on people, communities and lives.

Launching next month, the MadeAtUni campaign will aim to humanize the work that academics do and bring to life the everyday impact it has on people up and down the country. The campaign will incorporate earned and paid-for media, design, influencer engagement and content creation.

48% of adults in the UK think positively about universities, with 31% neutral

Activity is being informed by public opinion research, carried out by Britain Thinks, which shows that 48% of adults in the UK think positively about universities, with 31% neutral. Of those that are positive, however, only 11% are likely to advocate for universities because they have little idea of the benefits of universities beyond undergraduate teaching.

The campaign has been designed to target those currently neutral towards universities (the ‘floating voters’) with the aim of shifting them into the positive bracket. Britain Thinks’ research indicates that there is a 13 percentage point increase in the proportion of the population who are positive about universities when information is shared about the impact universities have on our everyday life.  It also shows that the impact of university research on everyday life is the biggest benefit of universities, in the eyes of the public.

The account is being led by Nicole Martin, who leads the agency’s growing education portfolio and is a former Daily Telegraph reporter. She recently supported the Committee of University Chairs, the body that represents the heads of university governing bodies, to launch its new guidance on the pay of Vice-Chancellors and other senior staff.

Universities are having to increasingly demonstrate they offer value for money following the introduction of tuition fees

MHP also helped to launch the Dads4Daughters initiative at St Paul’s Girls’ School, which focused on engaging fathers in the achievement of full gender equality in the workplace. As part of the campaign, fathers were encouraged to take an unconscious bias test online and make a personal pledge on their social media networks to stamp out discrimination at work. MHP has also advised a number of schools on their crisis preparedness.

MHP is focusing on education in response to the challenges facing the sector. Schools are having to strengthen their communications in relation to a wide range of issues such as historic sexual abuse allegations, VAT on school fees, examination results and student welfare. Meanwhile, in the higher education sector, universities are having to increasingly demonstrate they offer value for money following the introduction of tuition fees.

Nicole Martin said: “British universities are among the best in the world in terms of research and teaching, but they face unprecedented scrutiny because of wide range of issues such as the introduction of tuition fees, the controversy over Vice-Chancellor pay, student mental health and claims of grade inflation.

“The negative headlines mean that universities need to urgently challenge the way the public thinks about universities and we are delighted to be working with Universities UK on this campaign to promote the positive impact that universities have on people, local communities and the wider society.

“The spotlight on schools and universities presents challenges but also opportunities. We look forward to working with many other institutions in the future to raise awareness of the work they are doing.”

Nicky Old, Director of Communications and External Relations, Universities UK, said: “Universities transform lives. They are at the forefront of some of the most important discoveries, innovations and social initiatives of the last century. The technology we use every day, the medicines that save lives, the teachers who inspire – all come from UK universities.

“But many people think of our universities as just places of study. The MadeAtUni campaign aims to change this. We want to bring to life the everyday impact that universities have on people, lives and communities in every part of the UK. We want to show that universities really are making a difference to everyone.”


Read more about the appointment as covered by Communicate Magazine, 30th November 2018