Alumni Services

A champion of online learning

Lauren Johnston-Smith is behind marketing projects that support the growth of online learning at the University.

Lauren Johnston Smith at Open Day
Lauren speaks to a prospective student at Postgraduate Open Day.

My background

I studied History of Art at university, which led to my first graduate jobs at the National Galleries of Scotland in press and marketing. Continuing my love for the visual arts, I worked for Edinburgh College of Art (before it was part of the University), where I spent far too much of my salary each year buying art at the degree show! My next role at the Scottish Chamber Orchestra let me combine my passion for singing with my role as Marketing and Press Manager – having to attend beautiful classical music concerts as part of my job was no bad thing! I’ve always followed my passions when it comes to work – it’s important to me that I believe in what I’m marketing.

At Edinburgh

I joined the University in 2010 as Marketing and Communications Manager for the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine’s graduate portfolio. In 2017, I moved to Learning Teaching and Web Services in Information Services Group, where I’m leading marketing projects to support the growth of online learning, a key strategic growth area for the University.

Online students are so hard-working, often juggling family life and full-time professions with their studies. Having studied an online course for six months once, I take my hat off to all those who embark on a masters which can take anywhere between 3 and 6 years! There are more than 70 online postgraduate degrees on offer now at Edinburgh, covering all sorts of subjects from surgical sciences to digital media design.

Our online students come from more than 140 countries, all over the world; it would be amazing if we had a student from every country!

Something I know...

More than 4,000 students have graduated from an online degree at the University of Edinburgh, and 1,000 of those were in the 2017/18 session alone. 50% of our students are aged 25 to 34, some are studying for personal development, but most are looking for the deep knowledge and expertise that comes with a masters degree in order to progress in their career.

But the real beauty of online learning is that students don’t need to wait until their course ends to start reaping the benefits.  I recently interviewed a student on our MSc in Paediatric Emergency Medicine who works as a doctor in Kenya – she said that one week she’ll be studying something like surgical emergencies and the next week she’ll be able to practically implement it at work. It’s wonderful to think of  the positive impact that the University can have on communities and individuals all over the world.

Related links

Online learning at Edinburgh