Education North East’s marketing team, curriculum and support staff replaced the planned on-site open events across each of its campuses with virtual open events during the government COVID-19 lock down. 

A virtual open event to take place at the same time as the planned on-site open event to enable prospective students to engage with the college when a physical event was not possibleEventBrite was amended to inform pre-registered visitors of the virtual open event and were advised to use Live Chat on the college’s website at a time convenient to them during the event. 

The marketing team operated a Live Chat ‘switchboard’ to manage chats to key curriculum areas. Curriculum staff available to log into Live Chat and pick up transferred chats from Marketing Staff. Visitors can also apply online. 

Marketing staff registered attended students using an excel spreadsheet on EventBrite app and identified those who did not attend. The latter were sent a follow-up email. 

  • Marketing team 
  • Curriculum staff 
  • Support staff including careers and welfare advisers and learning support. 

Northumberland College virtual open day event, 31 March 2020: 

  • 77 pre-registered on EventBrite 
  • 245 total visitors 
  • fast- track applications  
  • 23 online applications received*
  • 100% satisfaction rating 

Hartlepool Sixth Form virtual open day event, 2 April 2020: 

  • pre-registered on EventBrite 
  • 81 total visitors 
  • 6 online applications received* 
  • 100% satisfaction rating

Kirkley Hall College virtual open day event, 29 April 2020:

  • 56 pre-registered on EventBrite
  • 100 total visitors
  • 8 fast- track applications
  • 15 online applications received*
  • 100% satisfaction rating

Sunderland College virtual open day event, 12 May 2020: 

  • 228 pre-registered on EventBrite
  • 254 total visitors
  • 5 fast-track applications
  • 33 online applications received*
  • 95% satisfaction rating

*received on or after the event as part of follow-up activities with participants,

“I was very apprehensive of chatting to people in case it was for different areas to my subject area, but I felt it went really well I was able to navigate and transfer from using the documents I was given, and I am really looking forward to doing another one.” 

“I thought this went really well given it was the first virtual event we have ever delivered. Obviously, the normal structure of an event is to have students physically come along to the campus, however this is a great alternative.” 

“It is a good idea to try and remotely engage prospective students.” 

“Freeman was very helpful and told me more than I needed to know about the course I would like to do, thank you.” 

Staff costs and extension to Live Chat licence (£800 extra for three months) 

  • All staff to be logged into Live Chat for the duration of the event 
  • Marketing staff to receive all incoming chats and direct to the relevant member of staff 
  • All staff to be emailed a list of staff who are available at the event. 
  • Curriculum staff to ask for a contact number from the visitor and call them, if preferred. 
  • Visitors to complete a fast track application form if they want to apply for a course and meet the entry criteria. 
  • Follow up those pre-registered but who did not attend  
  • Contact all visitors post-event with an online feedback form to evaluate visitor satisfaction. 

Training staff and their reluctance to use new technology – staff were briefed via email a day before the event and were sent training notes for using Skype, Live Chat and how to transfer a chat. 

Reduction in the receipt of applications from a standard Open Event.  The Recruitment Team are now adopting a follow-up process and engaging students who joined the event  

Looking at options to add more elements to the event in the future including group presentations and allocated curriculum or college virtual ‘rooms’. 

Why Education Partnership North East (EPNE)?

Highly commended - Employer of the Year, Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards 2019

Engagement with Employers - Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award 2017

(Sunderland College On-programme Survey 2017)

Selected by DfE for 2021 T Level pilot to deliver the new high-quality technical qualifications.

98% overall employer satisfaction - Employer Survey 2018/19