28 Oct 2021

Creating Great Student Engagement

We meet the team behind the award winning BIID Student Design Challenge at the British Institute of Interior Design 


Tell us about BIID.

The British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) is the only professional institute for interior designers in the UK. Our growing membership represents both the commercial and residential sectors, from heritage to cutting edge. In addition to rigorous entry requirements which assess training, experience, and professionalism, we require our members to continue their professional development throughout their career to ensure their continued expertise in design process, practice, and regulatory matters. For those wishing to find an interior designer or to confirm the credibility of a potential interior designer we offer a directory of our Registered Interior Designers.


You recently won the memcom Best Student Engagement Initiative Award – tell us a little bit about the campaign, the strategy, any challenges and how you measured success.

The BIID Student Design Challenge is an annual event we hold for 3rd year university students studying a BA interior design or interior architecture degree in the UK. The event has been running since 2015 and has had nearly 250 students take part. The day is a celebration of innovation, and the competition sets the students the task of creating a design concept from a top-secret brief with the assistance of a practising professional mentor.

Much to our dismay, we couldn’t hold the annual event in 2020 due to the pandemic but decided to re-create the event as a digital competition in February 2021 to ensure that our student members still had the opportunity to take part. We receive wonderful feedback from the course leaders each year about how much they value the event, and with lockdown playing havoc with student life on campus, we knew we needed to bring positivity to our students in the form of this competition and saw it as essential for their wellbeing and professional development.

To undertake such a challenge, we relied heavily on our past mentors to give us feedback on how they would like to see the competition structured virtually and we crafted the two-day mid-week challenge from there, working out the programme to best accommodate everyone’s needs and ensuring that the essence of the day would remain: fast, fun, and ferocious!

Our biggest challenge was grappling with technology and all the students worked so hard to convert their presentations into virtual pitches. The quality of the recordings, drawings and concepts were extraordinary, with the mentors commenting that the standard was the highest yet.

Going digital, we were able to attract more teams than ever before and converted many of the participating students and course leaders into members.



What was the highlight of the campaign?

The legacy of this campaign has been that the event was so successful and so much more inclusive, that our Board of Directors have decided that the challenge will now always be an online event and we are now looking forward to repeating our success in November 2022.


What has the pandemic highlighted with regards to student engagement? 

The pandemic saw many students in pursuit of creative subjects stifled by not being able to participate in classroom studios. The BIID has endeavoured to provide valuable online engagement with them, not only converting the Student Design Challenge, but also our other in-person student flagship initiatives, Life After Graduation and Portfolio Support Sessions into interactive web formats. We have had record turn outs for these events too and the students have adapted elegantly to these learning streams.


What one piece of advice would you like to share with other organisations embarking on a similar campaign?

We luckily had the benefit of 6 years of running the event (albeit in person) to base most of our insights on, but I would say if you were looking to go virtual make sure you consolidate your plans with your stakeholders to get buy-in and advice and always try to question your own assumptions! I personally relied on my preconceived notion that all the students would be digitally adept enough to whip up a presentation in the allotted time, but we needed a vast amount more to achieve what we wanted with the technical know-how we had. A lesson learnt for next time!


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