Santa Clara University has launched what seems to me a fairly unique campaign to attract students to their campus using blogs.

Santa Clara University Launches Student Blogs;
Prospective Students Get a Glimpse Into SCU Student Lifestyle

SANTA CLARA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Oct. 12, 2005–Santa Clara University launched a unique, interactive student recruitment initiative using web logs, or blogs — online journals. The blogs will have five SCU students posting weekly updates of their life at Santa Clara with text and photos. The goal: provide prospective students with authentic, firsthand accounts of student life at SCU.
“When prospective undergraduate students are interested in applying to SCU, they want to know about life at the university: academics, student life and social activities. One element that has been missing from the search, however, is the authentic voice of a student who can describe the ‘freshman experience’ firsthand,” said Susan Shea, director of communications at SCU. “With prospective undergrads embracing online communities and culture so readily, SCU created blogSCU to meet the needs and communication preferences of this target audience.”


So I wandered over to The University of New South Wales MyUNSW to see if they had something similar. Nope. Oh Ok, they might have forums and a thriving communicating student online community hidden behind the login but you have to have a current student number to log in. And while I wrote and taught at UNSW for a while, I don’t have access to their systems anymore.

myUNSW is the single online access point for UNSW services and information, integrating online services for applicants, commencing & current students and UNSW staff.myUNSW can be accessed from any computer on the Internet, anywhere in the world.

… as long as you have a student ID. Now I went through their help pages, but you definitely need a student/staff number to even get a temporary UniPass.

The University is committed to providing a quality online experience for enrolled and future students and UNSW staff, and has chosen to implement portal technology as the basis for future development. The myUNSW portal framework forms the foundation of an enterprise portal and the University will build on this framework in the future to offer new portal-based services for students and staff and other groups including alumni.

Future enhancements may also include the extension of portal services through the use of messaging tools, integration of email, calendar services, and the introduction of personalisation options for both display settings and content.


So here’s my thing – build a student community based around forums (blogs are too limiting) – have it moderated by the community itself, tutors in the first instance, then when its culture is established, let the students themselves take over. Open it up to prospective students to ask questions, make friends, *borrow* essays (oops scrap the last one ) and get a feel for the culture of the Uni. Open it up to business to market to Gen Y (and connected mature age students) the value of their Graduate Careers programs. Let ex students network and manage their relationships there. Drop the tome quality of the Handbook and make it into a FAQ question-and-answer based forum where the students and staff answer the questions. Scary stuff – think wiki – but there are endless possibilities for creating a superb online community integrating offline elements. There, I’ve oultined a whole plan for ’em … the invoice is on its way!