Improving communication with students

The improving communication to students key action area will develop a university-wide strategy for communicating with students through channels and tools they use, with messaging they relate to in a coordinated manner across the university, so that students are not overwhelmed by information-overload.

Impact on Student Experience

Initiative Highlights

The purpose of the project is to redesign communications in support of an improved student experience through the platforms and tools they use, with messaging they relate to, and in a coordinated manner across the university.

  • Rolling out a digital communications strategy and student communications guide during COVID-19 has created opportunities with some pivoting along the way.
  • The content strategy helped communication teams across the university align our COVID-19 content and communications approach to students.
  • Departments both with and without dedicated communicators worked more closely together to align on communication initiatives and messaging, which resulted in more coordinated and intentional content reaching students.
  • There has been an increase in demand for on-going strategic communications support. Departments both with and without dedicated communicators have received continued communications strategy guidance and tactical support to help them better communicate with their student audiences. This support extends from recruitment through to transitioning students, and supporting the current student body.
  • The Student Communications Guide website was built and will be ready to launch to the internal community. This guide aims to support departments in how they approach their communication executions, and can also be used as training material for on-boarding new staff that need to communicate with students. This will be a positive change in creating capacity for staff.

Open Dialogue

Stakeholder research

Conducted interviews with 40 groups of staff across SFU – including the below – to uncover communication goals, process and challenges:

  • Athletics
  • Career and Volunteer Services
  • Co-operative Education
  • Dining Services
  • EMCC 
  • Faculties:
    • Faculty of Applied Sciences
    • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
    • Beedie School of Business
    • Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology
    • Faculty of Education
    • Faculty of Environment
    • Faculty of Health Sciences
    • Faculty of Science
  • Indigenous Student Centre
  • International Services for Students
  • IT Services
  • Library
  • Parking Services
  • Recreation
  • Research Commons
  • Residence and Housing
  • Strategic Enrollment Management Liaison
  • Student Enrollment
  • Student Learning Commons
  • Student Services Communications
  • Student Success and Strategic Support
  • Teaching and Learning Centre
  • VP Research Office


Going forward, the team will launch the Student Communications Guide website to internal staff. Student Services communications, in collaboration with Communications and Marketing, will prepare a knowledge sharing plan that considers a series of on- going workshops and activities for internal staff to be trained on how to use the guide

In addition, the digital content strategy will continue to rollout to internal staff. The digital content strategy is already frequently used to inform messaging strategies, content decisions and channels. It was launched in 2020 and will continue to be shared with staff with the goal to increase coordinated communication and alignment in messaging to students.

For the SFU 2021/22 viewbook, the team has pivoted from delivering an in-person, on-campus campaign execution and will instead be creating a new SFU viewbook that incorporates all the learnings in student communications. The project team is focused on ensuring students understand the student experience (whether they are entering or continuing students) in the time of COVID-19 and beyond, and the viewbook/ campaign will help achieve this.