The Alumni Link project at the University of Hertfordshire has been connecting alumni and students using online and offline activities. This can help generate employment opportunities, skills development, relationship building and mentoring.
Alumni engagement has been viewed traditionally as an additional service once a student has graduated. In order to progress to a service that was more integrated with the student lifecycle, the following challenges needed to be addressed by the project:
- building collaborative relationships with a range of different stakeholders, such as alumni, career development and business engagement services
- growing an online community using LinkedIn, which generally has low uptake amongst students and recent graduates (also see the post on Brunel University’s Alumni Engagement project)
- creating a framework for continuing to support and grow an alumni community that is sustainable.
Alumni services are now taking on a more strategic role in the University and the subject-specific communities are starting to grow and take shape. For example:
- there have been changes in policy, such as opening the University’s alumni group to final year students
- engagement in the University’s LinkedIn groups has increased between 84% and 193%, depending on the group
- Business School alumni have formed a committee for collaborating with staff and running alumni activities.
Being an active member of an alumni community can benefit students (such as mentoring, etc), alumni (e.g. building professional relationships, etc) and the institution (in terms of reputational benefits). Therefore:
- a strategy should be developed for engaging alumni via online and offline activities that is co-ordinated; if departments set up independent alumni groups, this fragments the institution’s offering and reputation, should they be abandoned or lack support
- it is important to consider that different types of alumni have different needs, for example recent graduates are more interested in finding employment, whilst retired alumni are more interested in events being run by the University
- the institution needs to actively be involved in building alumni communities (e.g. by employing an Alumni Engagement Officer).
If you would like to find out more about this project, the following resources may help:
- Blog: Shared Alumni Engagement Blog: University of Hertfordshire
- Project Website: Alumni Link Website
- Case Study: Alumni Linked-In (PDF format, 1.57Mb)
- Video: Alumni Link.