it (literally) pays to visit an open day 

On a cold Sunday morning watching Frasier in bed in my hotel room, I was slightly amazed to see an advert for Staffordshire university on channel 4. What makes it even more surprising is that they’re offering £1000 to people who enroll with them who registered it as their first choice. The advert proclaims that “it pays to visit an open day” but at least for some, it seems this is meant literally:

We believe in giving students a head start. Our Kickstart is exactly that. It’s £1000 towards the expenses of student life, and the best thing is you don’t ever have to pay it back. We know getting settled isn’t easy, so this’ll help ease you in. Whether it’s nights out, accommodation, travel, or books, you’ll be good to go in no time. How will you spend yours?

Is anyone systematically tracking the growth of university advertising in the UK? In the past few months I’ve seen tv adverts, film adverts, a WBS branded airport run way and countless adverts at train stations. To what extent are successful ‘efficiency savings’, where they exist, being swallowed up by marketing and communications budgets? Where might this trend towards financial inducements lead? While the Staffordshire £1000 works through a ‘UniCard’ for campus retailers, it’s easy to see how competitive dynamics might lead to much greater inducements over time.

Edited to add: the next advertising break had a De Montfort university advert.