A recent media frenzy saw LinkedIn announcing the launch of its University Pages. A platform for universities to share information, connect with prospective students, parents, and retain communication with alumni networks. University Pages are “one cornerstone of our strategy to help students at every critical milestone from campus to fulfilling, successful careers,” said LinkedIn Director of Product Management Christine Allen in the blog post announcement on 19 August 2013.
“While University Pages are currently only available to a limited number of universities, LinkedIn indicates that thousands more schools will be given access to their University Pages over the next few weeks.” Stated marketing platform Hubspot in its coverage of this news.
No set date for availability has been set for South Africa but updates will be provided as soon as any new information becomes available.
This launch has also prompted the social network to update its Terms of Service to accommodate country specific age requirements. The update allows teenagers from 13 years and up to access the social network in order to start networking with prospective universities. LinkedIn now provides a platform for scholars to plan a set of goals and record groundwork in preparation for their future careers. Scholars can thus provide insight as to target academic institutions, courses and programmes of interest, planned careers and much more.
The appeal of this framework to institutions obviously is that a social network is starting to use “big data” right. The technology powering these pages will give bleeding-edge insight to universities and training providers updating their pages to the new format – insight not only to students interested in future enrolment but also maintaining an advanced student life cycle with analytics into where Alumni members eventually end up working. With this prospective students could also engage with Alumni members in the capacity of mentors, career advisors and even future employers.
We see big advantages in deploying these tools once they become available in South Africa as social networks seem to be the untapped source of prospective students. Most social networks can easily be accessed using mobile phones ensuring that even learners in lower LSM groups can access them. The success of such a strategy is however dependent on educating scholars as to the benefits of career planning and goal setting at an early age and providing basic guidance as to how to use these tools effectively. In the meantime we will be updating our LinkedIn Company pages and waiting for the official SA launch!