/ Technology

Is a university place a snap or swipe away?


Results day is coming, and one uni has taken to Snapchat to fill their final spots – is this Clearing gone crazy?

Ahead of 17 August, universities are already promoting opportunities to secure a last-minute place with them via Ucas Clearing – the official system for students who don’t get the grades they need – to find a Plan B quickly.

This year, Staffordshire University will be making Clearing offers to students via photo-sharing app Snapchat – a step beyond ads on the side of buses and in newspapers which universities have traditionally used.

Snapchat Clearing

Offers through Snapchat will be made based on communicated grades, just as they would if a student phoned a university as per the usual Clearing process. All offers via these channels will be followed up by a confirmation email or number to call.

Students can reach out to the university across their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well.

Staffordshire University’s Director of Marketing and PR, Georgina Kelly said the decision came from a desire to ‘engage students on the channels they’re using’ and that this would make Staffordshire ‘more accessible’ to them on results day.

This isn’t the first instance of a university causing a stir with their outreach attempts to students in Clearing. Last year, the University of Salford offered Tinder users a different sort of rebound, posting a profile for their university; interested students could swipe ‘Yes’ to start chatting and ‘get to know’ the university.

Other major organisations and brands are using popular social media among young people to not just market their products and services, but also assist in their own form of ‘recruitment’. McDonald’s recently opened up their staff recruitment to Snapchat users with a short video promo within their feed, from which they can visit the company’s careers page and apply for roles, all within the app.


Is there a limit to what we should look to social media and apps for? Should some things remain offline? Are we leaning on their convenience too much? Is something lost by not actually speaking to another individual?

In the case of Clearing phonecalls, these can vary between a quick confirmation of grades, to a mini-interview where a student must explain briefly why they’re interested in that course and why they would make a strong candidate. How this would work for a student reaching out to a university via Snapchat or Twitter isn’t so clear at this point.

We asked our Twitter followers how they felt about Staffordshire’s idea:

But what do you think? Tell us in the comments whether you consider this step innovative, or if universities should stick to the traditional ‘dog and bone’ when recruiting prospective students. How do you feel about the general shift towards a society where there’s an app for everything?

Look out for our Snapchat Story on Results Day, including a Q&A with our team. Send us your results day and Clearing questions on Twitter (@whichuniuk), Facebook (whichuniversity) or Snapchat (search for username ‘which university’ on your app).


If a university offers too many places and students get the grades, that can be a serious problem for various reasons. That is why clearing is important for filling up places on many courses.

I assume that using Snapchat provides a way of finding out more information and expressing an interest, just as email and phone calls have for many years. If Stafford University finds this a successful approach, others will follow.

I see no problem with universities advertising themselves in the places potential students look. However current reports that (some) universities are reducing their standards simply to get more students and boost their “business” are, if true, disturbing. We should not devalue education. Young people should be selected for the higher education, apprenticeships, or other providers most suited to their talents.

I had a quick trawl to see if other universities are using Snapchat and the University of Keele seems to have very much embraced new technology, judging by this page: https://www.keele.ac.uk/social-media/ I don’t know if they use it for recruitment of students.

When I was teaching I put a lot of effort into using and help develop our university VLE (virtual learning environment) but never used social media. I must ask my former colleagues about use of social media next time I pop in for lunch. There cannot be many universities, businesses or other organisations that do not use social media these days.