An inventive new media initiative launched by Edge Hill University to help future students prepare for university has won an international award.

The prestigious Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), with headquarters in Washington, DC and with members around the world, named Edge Hill as the Gold medal winner in its 2008 Circle of Excellence awards programme for Creative Use of Technology and New Media.

Edge Hill launched its “Hi” website to build relationships with potential students through an interactive forum where they could discuss interests and concerns about their forthcoming university life.

Edge Hill beat off the challenge of more than 50 universities in this category of a competition which attracted entries from 766 higher education institutions and independent schools from around the world.

In their report the judges heaped praise on the innovative project, saying: “This site targets a specific audience – prospective students – and provides a rich, interactive environment that speaks directly to their questions and concerns, and provides an opportunity for them to become part of the environment.

“A really nice community building site that drew us in the more we explored. The site contributed to a significant improvement in applicant conversion and offers an impressive model for this type of site, particularly having been built with modest resources by a smaller institution.”

Edge Hill University Director of Marketing Roy Bayfield said: “It is fantastic to win international recognition for an initiative that really benefits future students. Our “Hi” website offers them the chance to prepare more fully for the life-changing experience of joining a university by developing friendships online and by providing an opportunity to communicate with current students about campus life.”

Silver medals were won by Princeton University, Virginia Tech, the University of Alabama -Birmingham and the University of Calgary.