By IAN ROSS
Algoma University College (AUC) officials hope their new innovative marketing campaign will keep more northern students from migrating to southern Ontario campuses.
The campus is revamping its whole marketing and public relations strategy, focusing on the local community and “building outward,” says Donna Woldanski, AUC’s communications officer.
“We are a Northern Ontario university and a lot of our catchment is going to be that area.”
The campaign is aimed specifically at the Sault area to bring more students to Algoma University College from within the Algoma district, says Woldanski. The plan includes creating and implementing some different types of initiatives such as a joint promotion with CBC Radio Sudbury involving free tuition for a year.
Contestants must prepare a two-minute original audio essay incorporating sound, audio clips, sound effects and music as well as a voice, on what is their vision for their community for the next 25 years.
Another initiative is a weekly television segment, called Education Matters, focusing on university events, faculty and their research, says Woldanski. The segment is intended to “get the word out on the quality of instruction and
professors and what actually is going on here.”
Appearing on Shaw Cable about 128 times a week, the three-to-five minute segments feature faculty and highlight their research, sharing knowledge with the community, and historical sites on the campus.
Algoma University is also engaged in joint promotions with area school boards sponsoring a student of the month award and working closely to create joint newsletters and other partnership opportunities.
“We want students to be aware of a high quality university, to put the message of the Ph.D.-quality of the faculty, the small class size of 25 and the opportunity to get to know your professor. Those are huge selling points we’re trying to get out.”
In the past, Algoma has had success attracting southern Ontario students through inserts in Toronto publications and on city transit buses and subways to come north for their accelerated one-year computer sciences diploma and other programs in business administration, psychology, fine arts and their unique community and economic development program.
This year, AUC has experienced an overall enrolment growth of 11 per cent, more specifically a 19 per cent growth in new students over last year’s numbers, which numbered only four per cent.
Krista Yetman, AUC’s registrar and director of enrolment management, says new students directly from high school account for the largest increase at 131 per cent over 2002 figures.
The double cohort has been the major reason, but there are also slight increases in their diploma-to-degree transfer students as well.
The majority of those completing the program come from Sault College, but there remains a “nice sampling” from across Ontario.
Already, about 75 per cent of Algoma’s students are from the Sault area with the remainder from parts of southern Ontario, other provinces with international students making up about five per cent.