Public Sector: Central Lancs Uni stages PR pitch

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has put its PR account up for grabs as it prepares for the nationwide hike in top-up fees.

Incumbent Weber Shandwick has held the account for 18 months and will be repitching, according to UCLan.

From September 2006 maximum tuition fees will increase from £1,150 to £3,000 a year, making the market more competitive and forcing universities to show where they offer best value.

'When the maximum fees increase, students will be asking: Why are we different from our competition? So we need to promote our areas of expertise and show how we offer best value,' said a UCLan spokesman.

The brief for the Preston-based university includes advising vice-chancellor Dr Malcolm McVicar and other senior staff, crisis management, media monitoring and public affairs.

It also includes promoting UCLan's new campus in Cumbria, which it bought from Northumbria University last year, and overseas PR, particularly in China, from where it takes around 1,200 of its 34,000 students each year.

'China is an emerging and lucrative market and we want to maintain our lead over other universities in this area. Other emerging markets are in Eastern Europe and India,' a spokesman said.

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