The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service or more specifically their marketing branch, UCAS Media, earned over 10 million pounds in 2013 by advertising products to targeted groups of applicants – among them, those already in university, future undergraduates as young as sixteen and even their parents.
The initial idea behind UCAS sending its applicants advertisement was to provide students with a selection of the best offers and products to enhance their experience in university and give them a better chance at succeeding in their future careers.
These offers and products were supposed to be targeted by UCAS Media and then sent specifically to those applicants who could benefit most from them. Providing, in this manner, valuable information to the right people, at the right time and for the right reasons.
…‘We help they reach uni – we help you reach them’…
On the other hand what seems to be happening is the opposite. Companies are encouraged to look to UCAS Media, and by extension UCAS, as the most effective means to advertise to students. Now applicants are the ones being targeted in order to make a sale and not the other way around.
If you take a moment to visit the UCAS Media website, one of the first banners to pop up will read: ‘We help they reach uni – we help you reach them’. Another add displays: ‘Multiple channels for many audiences – Include everyone or target your ideal audience.’
…the whole situation does leave a general feeling that they might be taking advantage of their position…
All the e-mailing with the propaganda still comes from UCAS Media and not directly from the advertising companies; and in their defense, the admissions service claims that the students’ information isn´t handed directly to advertisers.
Being UCAS a mandatory channel for entry at most universities, the whole situation does leave a general feeling that they might be taking advantage of their position; even when considering that most of the profit goes back to UCAS, which is in part a charity, keeping the application fee bellow 30 pounds.
…First lesson in uni – stand up for yourself!…
No question of a doubt UCAS does make the application process to multiple universities a lot easier than it would be otherwise. One way or another, keep an eye on your inbox and speak up if all of the sudden you are bombarded with information and discounts on products you don’t need or want. First lesson in uni – stand up for yourself!