This article sheds a light on various activities of the One-stop Career Guidance –project (REACT ESF) has made to attract international students to apply to Karelia UAS for the next academic intake, Autumn 2023. To reach prospect applicants globally, the events have been organised virtually. The following paragraphs explain how the events were planned, organised, and implemented. The impacts of the events are also discussed.
Apply to Karelia UAS Virtual Fair
On the 26th of October 2022 One-stop Career Guidance Centre –project arranged an Apply to Karelia UAS Virtual Fair -event. This virtual event was targeted for international prospective applicants who are interested in getting a higher education degree in Finland. The main idea was to provide the participants with the essential and necessary information regarding the Karelia UAS’ degree programmes, application process, tuition fees and scholarships, exchange programme and student life in Finland and North Karelia within two hours, and boost their interest in applying to Karelia UAS. The event was arranged physically at Tikkarinne campus, but the participants could access the stream via online platform that was provided by Liveto Group Oy.
Organising the event
After selecting Liveto Group Oy as the service provider, the company granted the access and editing rights to the platform. The platform was used by participants to view the stream, chat with the organisers, discuss with Karelia UAS’ staff and students, and to get more detailed information about the degree programmes.
Our job was to build the content and create the design of the platform from scratch. The platform included the following pages: Lobby, Main Stage, Breakout Rooms, information of each English-taught degree programmes, Admission Services, Student Ambassadors and Exchange Programmes. The platform was published one week before the event to allow participants to get acquainted with the programme of the event and content in advance. Thus, the platform contained plenty of components from Karelia UAS website and social media channels. In addition, visitors could ask their questions in advance and subscribe Karelia UAS Applicant’s Newsletter to receive information also after the event.
The virtual fair was promoted via various channels. Firstly, a webpage was created on the Karelia UAS website. Secondly, paid social media campaign and Google ads were targeted at the target countries. Thirdly, the marketing materials were sent to Karelia UAS´s partner organisations. These materials were conducted in English, French, Russian and Vietnamese. Lastly, the event was promoted via Karelia UAS’ own social medial channels such as Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
The virtual fair needed to be planned and scheduled in advance. Also, it was necessary to book a special room for the streaming with enough space and silence for the camera operator and recorder. Karelia UAS has a room for organising media events, called “Canvas studio”. The room was decorated on the day of the event with Karelia UAS banners and furniture to resemble a real-life studio.
Presentations from Karelia UAS’ staff and students
The event started with a greetings-video from the Rector of Karelia UAS Mr. Raivo, in which he told the applicants about a low hierarchy in Finland, Finland as the happies country in the world and welcomed applicants to Karelia UAS. Our co-worker and Karelia UAS graduate made an inspiring presentation about studying and living in North Karelia. To attract future students to the region, various marketing materials were used in the presentation, such as a video of North Karelia, pictures with nature, etc.
To tell more about our bachelor’s degree programmes, staff members of Karelia UAS were invited for a discussion; Computer Science Lecturer, Study Counsellor in the degree programme in International Business, and Head of Education of English-taught programmes International Business and Industrial Management. The specialists from Admission Office gave detailed information about the application process, the tuition fees, and scholarship programme. In addition, International Officer told about the opportunities to do an exchange while studying at Karelia UAS. Lastly, an International Business student was interviewed about her pathway from studies to working life. All the participants were asked to join the breakout rooms after the main session to ask questions from Karelia UAS representatives.
Afterwards, the stream was recorded and published on Karelia UAS’ social media channels and website. The recording “Apply to Karelia UAS Virtual Fair 2022” with subtitles can be found on Karelia UAS’ YouTube channel, and with the help of timecodes one can easily navigate through the one-hour long video. If the participants wanted to visit the platform after the event to learn and get more information, it was left open until the beginning of the application period in January 2023. In total, 145 single participants joined the virtual event. Most of the participants were from India, Finland, Russia, Morocco, and Nigeria. The recording of the event serves for the upcoming application periods as well.
Q&A sessions on Karelia UAS’ YouTube channel
As part of the Apply to Karelia UAS Virtual Fair, four Q&A sessions were organised for applicants in Morocco, India, Vietnam, and for Russian speaking immigrants living around North Karelia. These events were streamed on Karelia UAS’s YouTube channel. The idea was to answer the questions of the prospective applicants in a relaxed atmosphere and let people, who might had missed the main event, to meet Karelia UAS staff members and interact with them online. Each Q&A session lasted for one hour. These sessions were also promoted via Karelia UAS website, paid advertisements in target countries, partner networks and Karelia UAS own social media channels. The sessions were organised with the help of Karelia UAS’ media students.
Sessions in English, Russian, French and Vietnamese
Apply to Karelia UAS Q&A sessions were tailor-made for each target groups. Each session had a quest speaker from Karelia UAS’ staff; Admission Office representative and two or three more specialists depending on the purpose and the target country. The first session targeted for the Russian-speaking immigrants in Finland and especially around North Karelia, was slightly different from the other sessions, as they might want to study not only in the English-taught programmes, but also on the programmes taught in Finnish. The event was also indented to people fleeing from Ukraine, as Karelia UAS provides them with advice and study opportunities and separate study rights in bachelor’s degree programmes. Karelia UAS’s Russian language lecturer and SIMHE counsellor were present at the event to answer applicant’s questions. In the sessions targeted to Morocco and Vietnam, we had a great chance to utilise the language and cultural skills of Karelia UAS’s staff members; lecturer from Industrial Management programme held a presentation in French, and Global Education Officer made a presentation and hosted the event in Vietnamese.
The Q&A sessions were recorded, and can be accessed via Karelia UAS YouTube channel. All the videos were also published on Karelia UAS website. The videos were also distributed to Karelia UAS partners in international student recruitment. Each live stream had a few dozen viewers, but the after the live-streams the recordings have now reached over 550 views in total. This means the recordings serve the interested applicants after the live stream as well.
Both new virtual marketing means to attract prospect applicants were a big learning curve for the project staff and other helping hands at Karelia UAS. These means will be utilised also after the project has ended with slight variations. The One-stop Career Guidance Centre –project will arrange another virtual fair during 2023, this time also focusing on the job opportunities in North Karelia after graduation.
Sofiya Meleshkova, Project Coordinator, Karelia UAS
Anastasia Korchinskaya, Project Coordinator, Karelia UAS
Sini-Tuuli Saaristo, Project Manager, Karelia UAS
Cover photo: Andrea Piacquadio