Earlier this year, SUMS Consulting brought together university marketing directors.  We met to discuss how the sector can reflect the needs of international markets, as well as how to respond to the current political climate in the UK.  Here are the highlights.


SUMS marketing members compared notes on the challenges they face in balancing the business needs of the institution with the requirement to firefight around more immediate issues.

During the session, Universities UK shared recent research on public attitudes on the sector which showed some divergence from the prevailing negativity of the current news agenda. UCLAN provided examples of the actions they were taking to support positive community relations in Lancashire.

No-one present saw room for complacency. The sector was felt to face a long-term task in demonstrating its contribution to an understanding of the concerns of many of its stakeholders. There was also a call for more communications activity that would show the relevance of universities’ work to people’s lives.

It was good to hear how the marketing team from the University of Nottingham had successfully involved external champions to communicate the impact of their research through their recent global reputation campaign.

The next meeting for Marketing Directors in the SUMS network will be held in autumn 2019.

SUMS Consulting would like to thank all those who provided input on the day, and particularly the following for their engaging and insightful presentations:

  • Kerry Law and Victoria Bell from the University of Nottingham
  • Kate Stanbury from London Metropolitan University and Jon Darch from Uprated
  • Nicky Old from Universities UK and Joel Arber from UCLAN.

Susannah Randall leads SUMS’ annual Marketing and Communications Community of Practice Group.  Susannah is a SUMS consultant and former Head of Communications for the Wellcome Trust.

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