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Seven Creative Sparks from the Floor

We thought we’d immerse ourselves in university creativity at the UCAS convention in March. So we teamed up with colleagues at the Future Index, along with a couple of our student panel, to search for our own future inspiration and 7 sparks to capture the imagination.

One: Bradford Keeping It Real

When it comes to digital communication we all understand the importance of peer-to-peer communication. So why not do the same offline? The University of Bradford did just that, taking the student stars of their ‘This is Bradford’ campaign and putting them on the main event stage. To see an exhibition stand made up of striking student pictures was one thing, but to be able to talk to the students themselves really made a difference.

Two: UA92 Show Their Skills

Trying to get groups of 16 year olds engaged with VR headsets is tricky at events, mainly because it’s hard to share the experience. An exception was UA92’s ‘Maze’ game which was not only great fun to play but involved sharing the adventure with others. As Matmi, the game designers, put it – ‘The game is designed to work cooperatively; the person in the virtual reality world guides the other through a maze whilst teams work together to unlock barriers and reach the end point.’ This kind of collaboration not only draws attention to the stand but it also highlights the skills focus at the heart of UA92. Thanks to our student panelist Thomas for experiencing a ‘fun and attention grabbing’ experience.

Three: UEA’s Virtual Campus

We certainly expect AR to dominate in the future and already UEA are making headway, bringing their campus stand to life with iPads and virtual content. Immersive Studios who made it summarised that students ‘can launch the app and discover hidden content simply using the image on the stand – creating a journey of discovery that not only shows just how fun and innovative the UEA is, but also plays into Norwich’s reputation as a ‘best kept secret’. And in the real world it t seemed to go down very well.

Four: Leicester Launchpad

The University of Leicester have been using their space connections as a launchpad for their major recruitment campaign ’Launch Yourself’, which is of course a metaphor for the wider student proposition. Word-play aside, our student panelists loved the space food on offer at the stand. The stand might not have been out of this world, but it was definitely one of the stars on show.

Five: UCAS Illuminations

Organisers UCAS can be a little creative themselves and their ‘Ignite Your Future’ installation, complete with fluorescent pens, worked brilliantly collecting responses from students to the question ‘What is your future aspiration?’ A reminder that not everything has to be collected online.

Six: Leeds Beckett Takeaways

The Leeds Beckett ‘Course Takeaway’ definitely took some inspiration from the world of fast food but with good reason. After all, teenagers quite often prefer to swipe and tap screens rather than queue for a face-to-face conversation. The giant screen was complemented by a receipt printer that served up an offline reminder of course information – together they drew a lot of attention.

Seven: Northampton Illusions

Finally, we have to mention the University of Northampton’s almost hallucinogenic graphics that scrolled and span and flickered on different screens – definitely one you couldn’t miss!

Overall, we felt that universities have continued to invest in the big picture messaging with a welcome shift towards more on-stand engagement. In a wider world of experiential opportunity that makes sense to us. But can it be even better? Oh yes. Surely that’s an incentive for all of us.

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