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Case studies

Clearing 2018: the good, the bad and the ugly

Estimated read time: 6 minutes

The last 12 months has seen universities adopt more ambitious approaches to video, moving away from their rigid brand guidelines to being more adventurous in how their content is produced. This isn’t because universities are leading the way, it’s because they’re always playing catch up to where other brands have been.

Video trends have changed. According to Buffer, square video outperformed letterbox and landscape formats in cost per click to engagement in 2017.

Social video that cuts through the noise works in a heartbeat – action is pre-scheduled at lull moments to keep viewers watching. As a result, producing captivating content is now a science, led by audience insights and data. Video generates 1200% more shares than text and video combined.

So what did Clearing 2018 bring us? The usual student and staff videos telling us Clearing isn’t the end and telling us how to apply, yes. But, where there any diamonds in the rough?

Here’s my round of some of the corkers, and some of the stinkers…

Live streaming

Let’s face it, with attention spans dwindling and saturation rampant, the task for us digital types is to grab the audiences attention within the first three seconds or you can kiss your hard work goodbye. This leaves little time for build-up or artistic openings – basically anything overly fancy that you’ve spent hours sending your eyes square over.

Clearing and Results Day LIVE 2018

We've been LIVE from our Clearing call centre chatting to staff and students as well as taking YOUR questions on all things #Clearing.👇 Find out everything you need to know, and any next steps. #ChooseHull

Posted by University of Hull on Thursday, August 16, 2018

Following on from their polished live stream from 2017, University of Hull repeated their awesome Facebook Live and took it to another level. A great combination of insight from staff on how to apply, interviews with current students about what it’s like to be a student in Hull and lovely packages and indents. It was a winning combination.  

The fun stuff

With Facebook attempting to get us to consume content in it’s new dedicated video tab, the task for universities is to become publishers, rather than information hubs. At Aston University, we ran a large survey with our current students and one of the findings was that our students expected us not to be so serious with our content.

Why do Aston students love Birmingham?

🏙 In just a few weeks time you'll be moving to Birmingham to start university life.We asked the #teamaston community why they love it as much as we do…🔊🔊🔊You'll need the sound on for this one 🔊🔊🔊

Posted by Aston University on Friday, August 17, 2018

What action did we take? We took a different approach to Facebook and to how we produce our video. We’re now producing content that is more in line with our target audience would see on a daily basis rather than settling for talking heads of academics and virtual tours, which they simply won’t have any interest in watching. You can search #TeamAston for more!

The team at University of Bradford have just got a knack of pulling of some pretty amazing content. Doing Q&A’s on a rollercoaster is capturing emotion in it’s rawest form! A great way of mixing it up on Results Day and taking away the stressfulness of it all.

I would like to see a parent’s version of this – over to you Bradford!

The fancy stuff

Let's Get On With It – University of Hull

Problems are only problems until solutions are found, and they're not going to find themselves. So what are you waiting for? #LetsGetOnWithIt 👌Are you prepared for Clearing? Visit or call us on 01482 462240. #ChooseHull

Posted by University of Hull on Wednesday, August 8, 2018

University of Hull again! Why? They’ve stepped their digital game up over the last 12 months and it’s noticeable. Whilst this is a shiny trailer, it’s actually done with such humour, taking advantage of the university’s location and challenges the viewer to ‘Get On With It’.

One to make you cry

Isaac – A Clearing Story | University of Southampton

"It made me really happy, I finally got myself some closure… And I had a plan for the future." Things didn't quite go as expected for Isaac on Results Day, until a simple phone call turned his disappointment into excitement for the next big step:

Posted by University of Southampton on Saturday, July 28, 2018

Anyone that knows me will know that my buzzword is authenticity. If it isn’t, in the bin it goes. University of Southampton have got this spot on. It’s the perfect story of a journey and the emotions that come with it. I’m a bit heartless most of the time but even this got me going.


Remember Shia LeBeouf’s motivational rant from 2015? It was funny then. Does it belong in 2018? Sorry Keele, this is trying too hard. You have a pretty campus but this wasn’t pretty.  

Partnerships between universities and football clubs seem to becoming the norm. They represent a great opportunity to boost a university’s profile on a global stage and provide amazing opportunities for students. DMU’s partnership with Leicester is one of the best there is, with some amazing initiatives. Sadly, this player appearance isn’t one of them…

So there we are, the trials and tribulations of how video was used during Clearing 2018. Already planning 2019? Have a day off.