Dan Barcroft on modest Sheffield, the current student landscape and tackling the Peaks as our new Director of Student Recruitment & Admissions

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Having started his new role as Director of Student Recruitment and Admissions here at the beginning of this year, Dan joins the University with a wealth of marketing and recruiting experience under his belt, and tells of how he was first attracted to the University because of the world-class reputation and the values driven culture here. At just over eight weeks into his role Dan shares his thoughts about modest Sheffield and the current student landscape.

How did you end up in student recruitment and marketing?

“I’m originally from Stoke-on-Trent and attended Lancaster University to study English Literature. Immediately following University I was a full-time elected sabbatical officer for Lancaster’s Students’ Union for a year and since then, I’ve worked in the professional service areas of Student Recruitment and Admissions in the UK and overseas, Widening Participation (WP) and Marketing at five UK Universities; Northumbria University, University of Cumbria, University of Reading, University of Essex and Lancaster University. My most recent post was Head of Global Student Recruitment Office at Lancaster University where I was also Principal for one of the Undergraduate Colleges, Lonsdale.”

What motivates you to do what you do?

“I am incredibly passionate about enabling students, whatever their background, to accessing Higher Education and really believe that all levels of HE study offer transformational experiences to those undertaking them. In addition, working with both academic and professional services staff encourages you to constantly challenge yourself, learn, develop and question your approach to your work and I think HE is fairly unique in offering that working environment. Working in Student Recruitment, I’ve always been inspired by the diversity I’ve encountered and I really believe that my area of work enables the sector to put our ‘best foot forward’ in demonstrating the impact studying and achieving can have.

My first impressions of Sheffield are mostly about how modest we are. In my initial two months here, I’ve been amazed at how fantastic it is and, in many cases, is sector leading, but that we don’t shout about it enough to the outside world.

Dan Barcroft, Director of Student Recruitment and Admissions

It has been eight years since the introduction of £9,000 fees for students, have you seen a change in the student application landscape since the introduction?

“Absolutely. When I began in this area of work just over 15 years ago, questions from students centred around ‘What is the nightlife like?’ or ‘Can I have my own en-suite bathroom in accommodation’. Since 2012, the landscape has shifted dramatically and questions now revolve around quality of the student and learning experience. Employability and preparation for employment are big factors for students, parents and other influencers such as teachers, who are all focussed on the return on the investment being made.”

What is your ambition for student recruitment and admissions at Sheffield?

“My first impressions of Sheffield are mostly about how modest we are. In my initial two months here, I’ve been amazed at how fantastic it is and in many cases is sector leading, but that we don’t shout about it enough to the outside world. I’d like us to ensure we get our messages out there to the right people and that we demonstrate the heart and soul of Sheffield as a place as well as our University. Other competitors and cities are currently gaining more of the pool of students than us and I want us to make sure we're a strong destination of choice for students, no matter where they’re from.”

Do you have any personal and career highlights to share?

“Having worked in roles that have included EU and International Recruitment previously, it’s been a huge privilege to see (albeit briefly!) various parts of the world, engage with new and different cultures and meet many brilliant people from across the world.”

“A more personal highlight was being selected to participate in LGBT charity, Stonewall’s, flagship leadership programme in 2015. Following this, I gathered support at my institution to join their Global Diversity Champions scheme and set up the University’s first LGBT Staff Network. I was awarded an annual staff prize in 2018 for my work and it was a real honour to have supported staff to help be themselves in the workplace and encourage the organisation to be proactive in its approach to the LGBT community. “

What are your personal interests?

“Outside of work I enjoy walking and getting out and about in the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales or Lake District. In my opinion there aren’t many things that can beat a good 10 mile walk, followed by a retreat to a country pub with a roaring fire. I’m also a keen baker and enjoy travelling across the UK and beyond whenever I get the opportunity.”

What do you do to unwind and relax after a busy day at work?

“I’d love to say that I do something very active all year round, but if I’m honest, during the Winter months you can find me curled up on the sofa with a huge mug of tea, a book or a boxset of a weekday evening and also plotting my next adventure!”