University of Birmingham hires Cathy Gilbert for top comms role

The University of Birmingham has brought in UCAS director of sales and student recruitment Cathy Gilbert as director of external relations.

Cathy Gilbert: Formerly at UCAS
Cathy Gilbert: Formerly at UCAS

She has stepped into the job after the departure of Tracey Lancaster earlier this year to become director of corporate affairs at Sheffield Hallam University.

Gilbert's move follows 18 months at UCAS, the body responsible for managing applications to higher education courses in the UK.

At the University of Birmingham, Gilbert oversees a team of 170 across a broad spectrum that includes marcoms, recruitment and admission, and public affairs, among other areas.

The move was so she could ‘be at the sharp end’ of higher education and engage more closely with students, said Gilbert. She added: ‘We are in a much more competitive sector now, so our focus is on making sure potential applicants are very clear on what the experience is like in Birmingham. When it comes to people starting to think about which university they want, we want ours to be at the forefront.’

Highlighting the launch of a virtual campus, she added that a key part of this would include work on social media.

‘It's about the techniques they use [online] and the messaging they receive, as well as about making things more intuitive and easy to access,' she said. 

Additionally, Gilbert pointed to showing current students what the city has to offer and highlighting ongoing investment in the coming years as areas of focus.

This includes redevelopment of halls of residents, a new library and sports centre, and the launch of the Bramall Music Building.

Gilbert’s arrival follows shortly after the departure of director of marketing and comms Alastair Jarvis to join Communications Management.

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