Increasing Postgraduate Recruitment

University of Birmingham PG Platform

Delivering Remote Mentoring Supported by Social Validation Principals

We have helped University of Birmingham achieve sustainable increases in postgraduate recruitment by planning, designing and developing a powerful digital communication strategy to increase brand awareness, and create brand loyalty, using the concept of social validation.

So we created

Based on the existing online open day work we had successfully completed we were asked to examine how we could create a platform based around delivery of video content and mentoring to improve the peer to peer learning experience. SMILE created a multi-step plan, each phase yielding a fast time-to-market and ROI, so that improvements were quickly evident, proven, risk-managed and continuous.

Dr Christopher Naunton on University of Birmingham PG Platform

Phase One: Mentors

The postgraduate mentor scheme that we helped to design, allows users to ask mentors a question remotely. This is then moderated by the postgraduate team at the university. If accepted the mentor is alerted and can answer the question either publicly or privately. Either way, the user is sent an email with the reply.

Over time, publicly answered questions are forming a searchable database of questions. Because the content is built on data from real people, the site makes great use of social validation to support a classic psychology/advertising principle that we are successfully using in the HE sector.

Phase Two: Live Events and Catch Up

Phase two was designed to further help prospective postgraduate students by giving them insight and a new layer of personal communication from the university.

Events are scheduled and promoted to prospective students and consist of video content, virtual tours, social data and live Q&A sessions.

Before the event they can browse the schedule and sign up for further updates. When an event is live, prospective students can ask their questions to staff, alumni and existing students and get answers in real time.

After the event, all of the data is wrapped up into a neat catch-up digest that is archived and can be browsed at any time post-event.


In the opening three months of the mentor scheme, over 100 mentors had been registered to the site and were actively answering questions.

In the same period over 1000 questions have been asked, averaging 10 questions per mentor.

We built in SMILE-standard moderation processes, which have helped the university staff to curate questions.