The association of common wealth universities virtual event

Conversion Marketing agency Drew+Rose organised a virtual event for The Association of Commonwealth Universities


The Association of Commonwealth Universities were planning their annual farewell celebration event for over 2000 international students of the class of 2019. As well as a very disruptive year, with many students having to return home early, the pandemic also ruined their graduation plans. The Association of Commonwealth Universities appointed us to create an online event which needed to bring together 2000 people in 160 countries over 5 time zones.

We knew people were fed up of Zoom and craving real-life human engagement. We wanted all students to have the same experience, no matter their location or time zone, and to feel that they were having an incredible farewell event with the freedom to explore, have fun and celebrate their achievements.

We invited the 2000 alumni to their own private event island for a 48-hour festival-style celebration. Students and staff created their very own avatars and landed in the private event island, accessing the event world through their laptops. They were able to talk to one another via their laptop microphones which provided true engagement and interaction just like at any real-life networking event.

Using their keyboard arrow keys, the Island was theirs to explore. They could move around as they liked and express emotions through pre-configured movements such a laughing, shaking hands, and even ‘Gangnam Style’ dance.

Students were sent guides beforehand, so they knew how to navigate the island before they arrived. They could go to the roof top to watch a TED Talk, Samba on the beach, play football on the field, and even drive the speed boat around the sea. Multiple stages were programmed with pre-recorded TED talks and speeches, with 48-hour access. Whatever their time zone, attendees were able to enjoy the event to full effect.

Students had a great time exploring and loved the escapism it allowed them from what had been quite an isolating year so far.



Over 1700 guest attend the event – the buzz was incredible, and we just couldn’t keep up with the chat function. The conversations and meeting were flowing, and attendees celebrated the incredible achievements with singing, dancing and fireworks on the beach.
We received incredible feedback from The Association of Commonwealth Universities Director.

“On behalf of the Association of Commonwealth Universities. I would like to say a huge thank you for the staggering amount of work you put in to the Farewell event for our class of 2019. 

I know that this event was far from easy to deliver and that our team were highly ambitious in what they wanted to achieve. I want to thank you for approaching the project with such open minds and for meeting our ambition with your own.

Your slick design, creative thinking, problem solving, coordination and most of all your hard work made this event into something really special.”

Here is some of the fantastic feedback we had from students:

“Can we just take a moment to appreciate Association of Commonwealth Universities for adopting the incredible virtual platform for this event. It’s so incredible, a distraction/relaxation that we all need”

“Thank you so much for this great virtual farewell event. I had fun dancing today.”

“Thank you very much for making the effort to give us a virtual farewell. We appreciate that it was not easy. Thank you very much.”

“Thank you so much Association of Commonwealth Universities for putting together an amazing platform and event.”

“We had a great time making new friends and taking group pictures.”

“The platform is incredible, wasn’t expecting it to be that interesting. We appreciate the effort from Association of Commonwealth Universities”

“Yesterday I learned to dance on the virtual world… is fun. Association of Commonwealth Universities did a great job there”

The measure of success of this event is the turn out, the incredible engagement but mostly how happy the alumni were to be together and have the freedom to talk and network.

“A big thank you for arranging this event and giving us the opportunity to participate…It was a great way to get in touch with our scholars and to see the engagement from the other scholars… This was a really good feature in comparison the regular webinars we hold on teams and Zoom. So a big up to you at the Secretariat and many many thanks for including us.”

“It was so much fun and I am proud that Association of Commonwealth Universities was able to put together such an event albeit virtually!”

“It was in indeed a wonderful event and we enjoyed it immensely with the scholars insisting on taking photos!”