HE Snippet 13 – Are the hills (and clubs) alive with the sound of your students?
Research Snippets: Our monthly Research Snippets look at interesting and topical findings unearthed by the HE team at YouthSight. See all our HE Research Snippets here. If any of your colleagues would like to receive our Research Snippets, ask them to drop a line to: james.macgregor@YouthSight.com
University marketing teams are always keen to discover what makes their institution unique. Sometimes the answer – or at least part of the answer – lies right under everyone’s noses; it’s the institution’s distinctive location. In this month’s HE Research Snippet we’re focussing our attention on applicant preferences for various location-based amenities.
Access to particular amenities and resources can be really important to applicants. A keen mountain biker or hiker may well want to spend the next few years of their life at a university with good access to the countryside, while a devoted clubber may not want to be out in the wilds. Looking at some of the rural drivers, our research shows that there are as many as 29 universities in the UK where over a third of their students are looking for access to the countryside. Figure 1 below, shows the number of institutions where over a third of students wanted access to various geographic based amenities.
Figure 1: Number of universities where over a third of new undergraduate students were looking for access to open countryside, seaside and hills / mountains.
New 1st year undergraduate students in their first term of study were asked, “Thinking about outdoor life, were you looking for a university that gave you access to any of the following? Open countryside; Seaside; Hills / mountains Based on Higher Expectations surveys 2010/11 to 2012/13 aggregated, n=37498. Contact YouthSight for full back-data and the latest survey (2013/14) just released
Of course, students are drawn to cities too and urban amenities such as clubs, shops, music and theatre are also important for very many applicants. Our point is that every university has a unique ‘footprint’ of access to amenities. And that, in turn, attracts a unique profile of people looking for very different experiences. Figure 2 below, shows, as an example, just how different that profile can be between institutions. Both HEIs in the example are highly respected pre-1992 UK universities.
Figure 2: Percentage of new undergraduates who reported they were looking for access to the reported amenities.
New 1st year undergraduate students in their first term of study were asked, “Thinking about outdoor life, were you looking for a university that gave you access to any of the following? Open countryside; Seaside; Hills / mountains Based on Higher Expectations surveys 2010/11 to 2012/13 aggregated, n=37498. Contact YouthSight for full access to the data and reports
The two webs in Figure 2 demonstrate just how much preferences can vary between students at different institutions. The differences are so large they are crying out to be considered in brand propositions, institutional segmentations, targeting and profiling.
The student experience is, clearly, a multifarious thing, much broader than just teaching, learning, assessment and feedback. First and foremost students seek a happy and stimulating experience at university. And while the right course and the right teaching method are absolutely central to that (time and again our research shows this) it’s not the only game in town. Undergraduates are devoting three or more years of their time to a place as well as an institution. And it’s logical that they should consider lifestyle factors when considering where they’ll be studying.
We are in no way advocating that universities turn their prospectuses into tourist brochures. But we do believe that location is an important point of difference and it’s worthwhile for marketing professionals in HEIs to understand what amenities count most for their particular blend of students (and how these vary from their competitors).
Contact us for access to Higher Expectations. We also have research expertise in wide range of HE marketing issues. We work with over 90 HEIs in the UK.
YouthSight owns the consumer access panel for higher education: 70,000 current students, 18,000 graduates and 17,000 applicants and 10,000 other young people.We’ve completed hundreds of projects for our HE clients, helping over 90 universities and HE organisations obtain the insights and data they need to drive important decisions. We’ve helped policy bodies collect evidence for ground breaking reports, we’ve helped marketing directors develop winning strategies and we’ve helped Deans to create new early stage course propositions that genuinely meet market needs.Our portfolio of products is based on a clear understanding of the needs of HE professionals combined with a sophisticated approach to the ‘tools of our trade’, including qualitative and quantitative interviews, regression & key driver analysis, Price Sensitivity Meter and choice-based conjoint or trade-off techniques. Here are some of our key products and approaches:
- Higher Expectations – the most comprehensive survey of new students in the UK. It provides:
- Competitive benchmarking – your performance versus your competitors – and nearly every other UK university
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- Now including FREE presentations
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- Course development, portfolio review and fee setting – time and again courses fail because they lack market appeal
- Recruitment for in-house surveys (qual and quant) – we can help you interview pre-applicants, applicants, students at competitor universities and recent graduates