Lund was best without advertising campaigns
Sweden’s top technical university is in Lund, according to the ranking institute Urank. And more and more students seem to agree. The Faculty of Engineering at Lund University has the second largest market share in Sweden, having recently surpassed Chalmers. Success has come almost without any advertising campaigns. Lund relies on its good reputation.
The Faculty of Engineering at Lund University, LTH, is ranked ahead of both Chalmers and KTH in Urank’s list of Sweden’s leading technical universities. The strength of LTH lies primarily in the quality of the students and teachers: high grades, high application rates, good throughput and a high proportion of teachers with a Ph.D.
“I’m not surprised really. We usually look at the South Swedish Chamber of Commerce’s ranking criteria for Swedish universities. When our values are included, we end up in third place in Sweden, after KI and SLU, but ahead of both KTH and Chalmers,” says Per Warfvinge, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of LTH.
He points out factors such as reliable student recruitment, pedagogical development and LTH’s good reputation as the most important reasons for success.
“We have maintained the same focus on recruitment efforts since the late 1970s. Basically, we have no advertisements or short-term promotional campaigns to attract students to LTH. Instead, we believe strongly in the personal meeting between young people and our student ambassadors.”
Taking care of the students
“The focus is on being where young people are,” says Per Warfvinge:
“We were the first to introduce SMS ordering of catalogues, now we have made an LTH app for the iPhone, at the same time as 10,000 school children visit LTH each year.”
LTH is also investing substantial resources in an attempt to take good care of their students during their first period at the university. The plan is that 75 per cent of them will acquire 40 university credits during their first academic year. More and more educational programmes have reached up to that limit.
“It’s a very good thermometer as to how we are succeeding in our work. It shows how well we have recruited, how the introduction works, how well training has been tailored to the students’ previous knowledge and how good they think it is to study with us.
A few years ago, LTH had a dip in its recruitment. Market share fell to 13 per cent, but today it has turned and at the latest application figures it had a share of about 20 per cent of the technologists and surpassed therefore Chalmers University of Technology for the first time.
Even though we previously moved backwards we stuck to our recruitment strategy. We also created some new educational programmes and we were careful to profile ourselves as an institution offering professional degrees, instead of highlighting the Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes.
Lives up to its reputation
The theory behind LTH’s recruitment work is to provide objective, credible information and then live up to its reputation of providing good quality when students have actually started their education.
“We know that advertisements do not matter. Our existing students and people in the young people’s network have the greatest impact. We lay the foundations and they are the ones who spread the word. Therefore, it is important what happens when students come to LTH. If more students succeed in getting a good start in their education with us, it should lead to increased attractiveness,” says Per Warfvinge.
A success-like element of LTH’s induction programme is Collaborative Learning, (SI - Samverkansinlärning). First-year students are signing up voluntarily to study the SI courses which are led by older technologists. Approximately 80 per cent of those who participate in SI manage at least 40 university credits each academic year. Among other students, only 55 per cent achieve 40 credits.
According to LTH’s own research, the recruitment strategy works exactly as hoped: 80 per cent of first-year students report that they chose LTH because of the excellent reputation their educations have.
“LTH has an amazingly strong brand. At a national level, we are on a par with the School of Economics. Lund University, together with Chalmers and Uppsala are at the top at national level. However, our beginner surveys show that students are not coming to us because we are a part of Lund University, but because of the quality of our educational programmes,” says Per Warfvinge.
Text: Christer Gummeson