We’ve counted the votes. We’ve had the passionate debates. Now, we’re thrilled to announce the winner of this year’s Kira Award for Best Higher Education Recruitment Video is...

The University of Oxford!

Our Awards Committee reviewed six nominees for recruitment effectiveness, emotional appeal, and entertainment value. Each video was unique, but overall, we felt Oxford’s quirky, creative campaign did the best job of appealing to its target audience of international graduate students.

In the People’s Choice category, Oxford’s international recruitment video also came up on top with 36.1% of your votes. For the popular vote, the University of Phoenix came in at second with 23.7%, followed by Auburn in third place with 13.4%.


Why The University of Oxford Won Best Video

Oxford’s video was created by the Graduate Admissions Office and Angel Sharp Media Ltd in Oxford, U.K. The teams brainstormed two major topics to create the video content:

  1. Surprising things to know about Oxford
  2. Common concerns from international applicants.

The result? One incredible recruitment video that meets the needs of its international student audience and has succeeded in its primary purpose to drive social media engagement for the graduate admissions office.

Here’s why it worked:

It’s Authentic and Relatable

Oxford’s video doesn’t try to ‘wow’ viewers with epic music or lofty statements. The graduate school provides useful, actionable information while remaining rich in honesty and authenticity.

“We wanted it to be light, funny, accessible, and most of all not at all intimidating,” said Hannah Madsen, Producer Director at Angel Sharp Media Ltd.

They do a fantastic job of helping their audience imagine themselves on campus and finding their place at Oxford.

Four students in the common room with mugs

Facts like “64% of graduate students are international students” are paired with a diverse group of smiling students to humanize the information on the screen.

The narrator and students are quick to laugh at themselves as they speak plainly about life on campus (“you’ll spend a lot of time queuing, we love queuing” or “I have a car, but I don’t know anyone else who does.”)

“We love the fact it shows all the amazing things about studying at Oxford, but avoids becoming cliché or cheesy,” said Kathryn Whittington, Head of Graduate Recruitment and Communications for Graduate Admissions.


It Both Uses and Challenges Stereotypes About the University

Oxford is a prestigious and highly-selective school, and it’s the world’s oldest university. However, this video tells a very different story about the school. And that’s a good thing.

Instead of talking about accolades, awards, and academics, Oxford focuses on the student experience. They lean into classic British stereotypes (“we drink a lot of tea” and “we love queuing”) and focus on lifestyle to make the university more approachable than students may expect due to the university’s long-standing reputation.


It’s Informative

While it’s not a necessity for a recruitment video to be informative in order to be effective, Oxford is able to do both things well.

From clubs and transportation to residences and support services, viewers get a far more granular look at campus life than they would in videos from other nominees, like Auburn University or the University of Auckland. The delivery of the information through video transforms useful facts into entertaining storytelling.

“We do try to have recruitment products, which are informative and represent the excellence of the University, but also put a friendlier, approachable face on our illustrious reputation. And humour is the best way to reduce the formality of our relationship with prospective students,” said Whittington.

The 'Visa Team' at Oxford sitting at their desksThe Visa Team at Oxford get a brief cameo in the video


It’s Entertaining

Coming in at 1:46, Oxford’s video was our longest nominee but the video doesn’t feel long. Despite being extremely educational, the tone and delivery make it truly entertaining and ultimately effective for portraying life as an international student.

“Ensuring any humour came from the film and voiceover itself was important to us, it was vital that the students' contributions were genuine and warm,” said Madsen.

For example, the video transitions from expected student clubs, “groups for music and politics,” to more peculiar opportunities like the Tiddlywink Society. Mirroring the exact thought a non-British viewer may have, the video cuts to a student asking “Tiddlywinks? What’s a tiddly?”

The board game 'Tiddywinks' box and colourful counters

Tiddlywinks is a traditional English board game.

“We asked the students lots of silly questions when interviewing them, and most of the interview clips we used were off cuts – to maximize sincerity!” added Madsen.


It’s Designed for Driving Recruitment Interest on Social Media

This video is made for social media.

After viewers make it through a fun and friendly 90 seconds, the jokes are set aside and prospective students are given a compelling recruitment line: “Wherever you’re from, when you come to Oxford you might find the rest of the world is already here” followed by a clear call-to-action to visit the grad studies website.

“We’ve promoted this video to prospective applicants via our website, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter channels as part of this year’s graduate admissions cycle, reaching around 15,000 viewers since last November,” said Whittington. “This video was mainly used on social media rather than as a permanent fixture on the website, so social measures of success were optimal for us here.”

“We wanted to make sure there was quite a lot of on-screen graphics and text, a good pace, and fun titling so that the video would play well on social media,” added Madsen.

Congratulations to the University of Oxford Graduate School on winning the Kira Award for Best Higher Education Recruitment Video of 2017!

Looking for more of the best higher ed recruitment videos?

Watch the Kira Award winners from 2016 and 2015.