Award-winning guides on next steps for Gen Z


UCAS has an image to shed. For the better part of 30 years, they’ve been the UK’s ‘application people,’ acting as a conduit between students and higher education providers. They interact with nearly 1 million young people every year, a captive audience, but one that only tunes in twice a year: application deadlines and Results Day/Clearing.

And yet they are so much more — a wealth of data, information, honest advice and zero vested interest in telling you what to UCAS is really about connecting anyone who wants to take their next steps in learning to solid advice and their options.

Between Hybrid and UCAS, we sit on A LOT of data about what young people care. We needed to leverage what we know to create content that makes youth engage not just twice a year, but to be part of the 365-day conversation.

The Challenge

Transitioning a legacy institution, with layered departments, multiple initiatives, nuances and the limitations of the wider public's perceptions into one that uses an engaging voice and proposition to engage with their young audience and many stakeholders requires insight and an action plan.

First, a relevant tone of voice that effectively flexes to whatever situation they might be in -- from talking to a school leaver to writing to a policy maker. And next, to create something that boldly articulates that shift, and to start with the most challenging audience of all -- Gen Z.

Young people in 2022 are a difficult group to pin down. More than any generation before, they’re not beholden to one single thing that defines them. Individuality, free-expression, a shunning of labels — these are the qualities they value. However, this isn’t to say that their isn’t space to create content to engage across a varied, unique demographic.

At Hybrid, we speak with thousands of students every year. We know they’re plagued by anxieties: What am I supposed to do? Who am I? Why do I feel so ‘stuck’? Here lies a space where the combination of UCAS’ reach and trove of information plus our deeper insights into student thinking and behaviours come together to create content that has value and can answer real questions plaguing young people right now.

Total brand reach
Increase on impression delivery
Social engagements with users

We created a series of ‘Ultimate Guides’ — 15 interactive articles that combine written text, video and audio to address Gen Z’s most pressing questions head-on. Each article featured experts, peer stories and trusted advice from UCAS to make choices clearer and the weight of decisions lighter.

Our guides captures moments of deep thought and reflection for young people. School leavers aren’t interested in what university they should go to; they’re asking themselves if it’s even worth it. To tell the full story of choice, we approached the ‘Is uni even worth it?’ guide from every angle — current students, graduates, apprentices, successful opt-outs, and those who initially said ‘no thanks’ to HE and went back as mature students. Other guides featured answering questions like ‘Finding your passion,’ ‘How to decide’ and ‘Finding an apprenticeship that’s right for me.’



The feedback was astouding: real connection to students. Over 200,000 visitors and still counting. Over 44% of users navigated onto a second Ultimate Guide. And most importantly, a 26% increase in Gen Z who recognised UCAS as more than just 'the application people,' but a source of advice. Wait for it -- 15 more are on the way for 2023. 


Designed in-house and in tandem with the content, we used bright colours and hand-drawn figures to convey authenticity and relevance to the Gen Z audience.