E-scooters at a crossroads
E-scooters at a crossroads

Supporting Higher Education Providers Through Challenging Times

We provide expert lobbying, communications and stakeholder engagement support for higher education providers through the Coronavirus crisis.


The coronavirus pandemic is already causing unprecedented disruption for all organisations, including universities and other higher education providers, as they seek to manage online learning, end of year assessments and admissions for the new academic year where there is little clarity on issues related to new domestic and international students. In addition, there are clear financial implications of the loss of revenue from conference events and student accommodation.

WA Communications is a top-5 public affairs and communications consultancy with an in-depth understanding of the current higher education landscape through the work we have been doing for Newcastle University, Richmond University and our handling of all the communications around the closure of GSM. Through this work, we have built strong relationship with all the key higher education stakeholders and decision-makers.

In addition, WA Communications is already offering a range of specialist communications services to clients during this challenging period including:

  • Regular advice on overall developments relating to the government’s response to Covid-19, and on developments, risks and mitigating actions
  • Urgent advice and lobbying support in obtaining required government support for businesses where needed
  • Crisis preparation to ensure businesses are able to handle any business-critical issues that could attract external scrutiny
  • Developing communication plans and content to keep stakeholders informed of decisions that need to be made
  • Creating communication strategies and roll-out plans for any changes that need to be implemented to ensure business and organisational continuity

Our services

Communications strategy and management

WA Communications are very experienced acting as the central management point for developing communications strategies, writing and securing sign-off on communications materials and developing the approach to their dissemination. During this time, institutions may need to be communicating with a wide range of stakeholders about their current situation and plans for the future. The WA Communications offer includes:

  • Initial workshop with relevant senior management to ‘get under the skin’ of the institution, the challenges it is facing, understanding the make-up of the institution and existing relationships with external stakeholders
  • Developing a full communications strategy including roll-out plans
  • Securing input and engagement from outside organisations beyond the university that will need to be involved in the process
  • Working closely with other external advisers to ensure communications are in-line with business, regulatory and legal planning
  • Developing all communications materials including staff, students, alumni, partners, regulators and sector bodies and co-ordinating sign-off of these materials
  • Development of holding statements for initial media enquiries
  • Development of a full media pack including press releases, briefing notes and FAQs for when the announcement on future plans are made
  • Putting together a digital strategy to cover the effective use of existing social media accounts
  • Provision of a full outsourced press office function – handling media enquiries, liaising with external partners as needed to ensure message alignment, and sending statements to journalists
  • Providing a potential university spokesperson with media training ahead of any announcement being made, in case a media spokesperson is required

Political review, advice and lobbying

WA are offering rapid lobbying projects into particular government decision-making processes relating to Covid-19, and the impact that will have on organisations. For universities and higher education institutions, our offer includes:

  • Identification and ranking specific needs of in response to the immediate threat of coronavirus.
  • Develop a robust messaging framework that answers what additional measures should be put in place in support your institution.
  • Produce a messaging playbook that contains proof points on the institution and wider socio-economic impact that could follow if specific action by government is not taken.
  • Mapping and prioritising the decision makers you need to influence, including but not limited to HM Treasury, No.10, Cabinet Office, the Home Office, DfE, other relevant departments.
  • Approaches to the most relevant stakeholders who can influence the Government’s future response measures including the OfS, the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, the Student Loans Company, and UCAS.
  • Coordinate approaches to influential constituency MPs and broader partners to champion and amplify your message with decision makers.

Our crisis comms experience with higher education providers

Want to find out more?

Lee Findell

Partner and Head of Corporate Communications

Find out more about our Corporate Communications work

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Speak to us
020 7222 9500

6th Floor, Artillery House
11-19 Artillery Row
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