In 2014 the six northern Ontario colleges; Confederation College, Sault College, Collège Boréal, Cambrian College, Northern College, and Canadore College, announced a collaborative partnership, the Study North Initiative (SNI). SNI was funded in conjunction with the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) and was proven to be successful.
“The objective of the SNI project was to engage southern Ontario students looking for quality post-secondary education options and inform them about the six great colleges we have right here in northern Ontario.” Said Theo Margaritis, Partner/Brand Strategist with TWG Communications, which led the campaign.
“SNI is a tremendous success story for the north. All six colleges were at the same table working together, NOHFC was on board with funding, and a comprehensive marketing and communications program proved to be the right ingredients for success over the last five years,” said Margaritis.
Initially intended as a three year initiative, SNI was extended by two years thanks to proven results and strong partnerships amongst the colleges.
Key target audiences were identified by utilizing both geo-segmentation analysis and focus group testing. A highly focused marketing and recruiting campaign was then implemented.
SNI proved to be an economic stimulus for partner colleges and northern Ontario communities generating 656 enrolled students from central and Southern Ontario. Economic Modelling Specialists International (EMSI), an economic data firm specializing in education, states average living expenses (room and board, personal expenses, transportation) for students who locate in northern Ontario equals $16,000 per student, per year.
Based on results to date, SNI has generated up to $31 million of economic activity for northern Ontario. These numbers are approximate, but offer a good indication of the positive economic impact SNI has made across the north. When fall 2019 recruitment efforts are factored, enrolment will exceed 700 total student registrations through the fall of 2020.
The project is now completed but the long term impact of the marketing efforts and the excellent collaboration between the six northern Ontario colleges will prove beneficial for years to come.
Dr. Ron Common, President of Sault College and the visionary of the initiative said, “A few short years ago, market research indicated students in the GTA were unable to identify any of the colleges in northern Ontario. With NOHFC funding and lots of collaboration between our six northern Ontario colleges this is no longer the case.”
“The six SNI colleges continue to have a significant economic impact on the communities in which they are located. Together they contribute approximately $1.6 billion to northern Ontario’s economy through tuitions, housing and lifestyle spending”, added Common.