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Eight out of ten freshers have smartphones

Does student marketing now mean mobile marketing?

Four-fifths (82%) of new university and college students own a smartphone and at least 20 percent have a tablet, a UCAS Media survey has revealed.

Over 11,000 freshers were asked in December last year about the type of handset they owned. Around 9,000 revealed they had a smartphone – capable of handling social media, web browsing and email and running apps.

The number of UCAS applicants who own a phone which can receive content at any time has risen by 122% since 2010, the results show.

Today’s students are over 40% more likely to own a smartphone that the overall UK population*.

The survey by student marketing experts UCAS Media found that taking photos (75%), web browsing (73%) and email (69%) are the most popular phone functions, after texting and calling.

Around 60% of respondents said they used their phone to access social media and 45% said their device also doubled as music player.

University and college applicants are far more likely to use social media than the UK population as a whole*. Over 92% of applicants are Facebook users, with 73% on Twitter and 27% uploading pictures with Instagram.

Nearly 20% said they owned tablets, in response to the survey conducted shortly before Christmas 2012, suggesting that the proportion could now be far higher.

Keith Parkman, head of sales at UCAS Media said: “The large number of students who now consume content on smartphones and tablets means marketers are competing for their valuable time like never before.

“We know that content must be optimised for mobile, but because young people are connected 24 hours a day, the timing of messages is also important.

“Marketing professionals should picture students looking at text and images while travelling on the bus, rushing to a lecture, or out socialising. They don’t have much time to spend looking at adverts and the impact has to be immediate.”

“Now think – how do I get the right message to potential customers in that short window of opportunity?”

To get in touch with UCAS Media to discuss advertising to students call 01242 544881 or email

About UCAS Media

UCAS Media offers expert marketing services to clients wishing to reach students.

We work with advertising agencies and other commercial companies as well as higher and further education institutions. UCAS Media is owned by UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service), which manages applications to higher education in the UK.

Notes to Editors

For more information call the UCAS Press Office on 01242 545469 or email James Woodward

*Overall UK smartphone ownership and social media usage percentages quoted from Ofcom’s Communications Market report 2012