A life-long relationship – why and how to keep your alumni connected
By ucyolma, on 15 January 2019
UCL’s 2018 alumni survey showed that 89% of alumni who responded feel positive about the experience they had as students here and 91% describe themselves as ‘proud’ to have been a UCL student.
Notably, UCL graduates who are still in touch with other alumni are significantly more likely to say that their student experience was excellent, to be proud of UCL and to still feel connected to the university.
These proud, connected alumni are our biggest advocates, our volunteers and, in many cases, also our donors – as we saw in November, when Hong Kong alumna Cathy Lee and her husband Martin announced a donation of £3 million to support our neuroscience research. So keeping that strong sense of connection to UCL and their UCL network is vital.
Clearly student experience in the round plays a huge part in that and the investment UCL is making to support students to have an excellent social as well as academic experience – for example through the new Student Centre – is very important.
Keeping graduates in touch with UCL and each other
But what we do after students graduate can also make a big difference in keeping them connected to UCL and each other, and to maintaining that sense of pride and belonging.
As Vice-Provost (Advancement), alumni engagement is one of my key responsibilities. That’s why UCL’s It’s All Academic Campaign is as focused on building and growing our worldwide alumni community as it is on raising £600 million in philanthropic income.
Since the Campaign launch in September 2016, my office has led a wide range of alumni relations activities, from delivering a range of social and professional development events in London, the UK regions and key international markets to developing online platforms through which alumni can network, find friends and contacts, and support each other and current students.
Strongest relationship is with departments
However this isn’t and could never be the totality of our alumni engagement. The survey confirmed what we have long known – that the majority of alumni feel the strongest sense of relationship with their schools, faculties and departments.
Therefore a big part of what we do is work with departments to support, develop and facilitate their own targeted alumni engagement.
Your alumni want to stay involved and can help you tremendously, through mentoring and work experience opportunities for current students, research and business collaborations, course marketing support, advocacy, and of course philanthropy.
We know that many departments already have well-established alumni programmes in place, while others are still developing or are at an early stage. Whatever stage you are at, my office is here to help you reach and engage your alumni through a variety of methods and channels.
Opportunities to engage international alumni
The alumni survey also gave evidence of something that we have long been intuitively aware – that international alumni communities are some of our most active and engaged, despite having fewer opportunities to physically come back to visit UCL. Travelling abroad to study is momentous and memorable; that chance to meet people from different cultural backgrounds (often for the first time) and to live in an iconic capital city is life-shaping and forges a powerful connection.
All relationships need work and attention to keep them going, and our key international communities hugely appreciate visits from UCL staff to keep them feeling part of the community as well as our regular digital communications.
Through 2019, we will be working hard to nurture and build on our international alumni engagement, in particular in the key markets of China and Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, Japan and the USA.
If you have plans to travel in those regions this year and might be interested in taking part in alumni events or meetings, please contact my team for more information.
University years are a memorable and, for many people, transformative time, shaping the rest of our lives. The time students spend here at UCL is comparatively short but the memories last a lifetime – and so should the relationship. Investing in keeping our alumni close reaps multiple benefits for UCL, our students and for alumni themselves.
For advice on how the alumni relations team can support you to further your alumni engagement or on how to take part in international alumni events, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.