Student Marketing

According to latest figures there are around 2.5 million students enrolled in the UK’s 162 Universities and around 7 million in total in higher education across the country. With over 600 individual student unions registered with the NUS, students are estimated to spend approx £15 Billion a year making them a highly desirable demographic for consumer brands.

The average student spends over£5,000 a year and is likely to spend up to seven times more online than a member of the general public each year, making them the most profitable group of 18-24 year olds. Attracting a student to your product or service during this period can lead to prolonged customer loyalty for your company and so it pays to do it right.

University students spend the majority of their time either on campus or socialising and therefore traditional forms of advertising such as TV, Radio and Billboards are not the most effective methods of reaching a student audience. There are a number of specialist marketing agencies in the UK dedicated to targeting students via the student unions using various marketing methods such as social media, direct mail, email lists, branded events and discount cards. Lets take a quick look at a couple of the main agencies who can help you reach students:

NUS (National Union of Students)

Although extremely well known as being part of the student community, it’s position as a student marketing provider can often be overlooked even though they have over 20 years experience in the subject. Not only do they have over 600 students’ unions registered, they also run a purchasing consortium across 200 students’ unions with bar and retail venues which could provide your company or product with a huge amount of exposure.

Their monthly email newsletter is sent to a verified list of over 600,000 students in which they offer three main areas to advertise with prices ranging from £1100 to £1600 for a peak term time slot. They also offer the choice to ‘takeover’ the official website with your own banners and product adverts. Prices for this don’t come cheap though, with a full homepage takeover costing upwards of £2,000 a week and a homepage slider costing around £1,500. In exchange for this premium rate, the homepage is visited by 500,000 people a month on average.

The NUS also run a scheme called UnionCloud where they are able to display adverts on 45 student union websites at the time of writing, with this number increasing every month. This lead to around 3 millions impressions during September and provides a great way of reaching students up and down the country.

The NUS Discount card is also well known scheme and becoming a card partner and offering discounts to member students can also be a great of getting them to buy your product over another.


BAM are one of the most experienced student marketing agencies and have been helping to connect brands and student together since 1998. They operate a similar set of student targeting methods as the NUS. One of their main ways of attracting students to your product is via Freshers’ Fairs which are attended by over 500,000 students each year all over the UK.

BAM also utilise email lists to reach around 1,000,000 students and also display banners and editorials across more than 100 of the UK most popular student and educational related websites. BAM also use some more traditional types of advertising such as posters, digital displays, billboards or advertisements on campus bus shelters, washrooms and landrettes but to name a few.

BAM also offer the chance to become a partner or sponsor for some of the UK’s leading student events, including student lock-ins, themed club-nights and festivals.

UCAS Media

UCAS Media is the marketing arm of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service which handles university applications for almost all of the UK’s universities. This gives them a huge database of students that can be targeted including 90,000 over 21’s, 100,000 overseas students and 100,000 16-17 year olds. UCAS are able to boast almost 1.8 million+ unique users a month to their website providing unrivaled exposure to students all over the world who are looking to attend University in the UK.

UCAS Media email lists offer a 35.4% open rate compared to the national average of just 22% from other agencies and click through rate is up 5.6% against a national average of 4% meaning more students are exposed to your product or brand through a UCAS Media email than any others.

It should be noted that all profits made by UCAS Media are fed back into the main UCAS Charity to fund improvements and to subsidise main scheme fees.

There are of course many other marketing agencies that aim to take a slice of the student marketing pie. However if you’re not in a position to employ the resources of an established marketing agency whats the best way of targeting students directly? SUMarketing have put together a useful guide for connecting with students without the need for a third party agency which can be found here.

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