Innovative ways to engage students on campus

Aug 25, 2020 | Attraction & marketing

Opportunities to engage students will not be limited to virtual fairs this autumn. To get the best results, ISE’s Stephen Isherwood encourages employers to be innovative with how they work with universities.


Universities will continue to focus on and embed employability in the curriculum, particularly as Covid-19 has damaged the graduate labour market. How this works in practice will vary by institution and academic discipline.

A wide range of opportunities exists for employers to interact with students either inside or outside the curriculum. These could include:

Virtual skills webinars
Employer presentations
Case study provision
Lecture participation
Virtual projects
Virtual work experience
It can be valuable to explore these opportunities directly with careers services or with specific faculties. Many are taking an innovative approach and there are lots of projects and initiatives employers can get involved with.

Employers sharing professional knowledge can be hugely beneficial to students and academics whilst enabling them to spot future hires.

Range of opportunities

With assessed projects you can work with academic colleagues to develop or virtually contribute to a module focusing on a real-life business issue.

Competitions enable you to take part in a live virtual lecture to set a relevant challenge, which will then run as part of a module.

Producing a case study on your organisation or an alumni’s career journey can be an excellent way to raise your brand profile and inspire students.

Student societies and student unions will still be active and are an additional route to connect with students. If you have an existing relationship with a student society then they are likely to appreciate your offer to work with their members. If you want to start working with societies or the student union, the university careers service will be able to connect you.

Many careers services will also offer employer presentation slots. The format will often be a presentation followed by Q&A with a recording made available to students post presentation.

If you are looking to offer work experience or internship options, be aware that Christmas and Easter vacations periods may be shorter due to the pandemic to enable universities to flex their teaching provision.

In-curriculum virtual projects

The University of Liverpool’s Skills Enhancement Project has been developed by the university’s Careers & Employability team, in consultation with academic colleagues across three faculties.

The project provides alternative real world experiences for students who are no longer able to complete summer internships or placements this year as a result of the pandemic.

It aims to provide students with an opportunity to work collaboratively across multiple disciplines on real-world projects and challenges set by employers, across a six-week period from October 2020.

From an employer’s perspective, opportunities of this kind offer significant benefits. This is a more targeted and relatively light touch approach to campus engagement.

It enables employers to raise their profile, maintain their employer brand and gain exposure to a talent pool of highly motivated students who may not ordinarily have attended employers’ individual campus events – whilst also providing an extra resource dedicated to a real business issue.

Special events

De Montfort University’s (DMU) Health and Life Sciences Plan Ahead Value Employability (PAVE) event regularly sees over 1,000 students from the faculty attend.

This autumn DMU will run PAVE conferences virtually. The event includes talks from sector specialists, interactive workshops and employer exhibitor opportunities. PAVE is run collaboratively with the Faculty and enjoys fantastic buy in from academics, students and industry.

In addition, DMU will be running industry specific virtual employer network events which will allow employers and students to engage in meaningful discussions which will expose students to employers with roles relevant to their programme of study.

Read more advice, case studies and insights in ISE’s Planning for a virtual autumn: a campus engagement guide for employers

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