Market research for universities

As budgets tighten and competition intensifies, insight has never been more important to Higher Education Institutions. Since 2004, we’ve helped over 100 university clients take better decisions based on evidence from our primary research. YouthSight’s Higher Education Research team has built its reputation on a thorough understanding of the sector, combined with unique access to the applicant, student, and graduate members of our 135,000-strong OpinionPanel Community.

bespoke research

While YouthSight is the UK’s leading supplier of syndicated research to UK universities, we actually spend most of our time running bespoke studies for individual universities. Using a wide range of methods from traditional focus groups, to online qualitative communities, through to advanced analytical approaches including MaxDiff, Choice-Based-Conjoint, needs-based segmentation and beyond, we carefully tailor our research designs to provide evidence that empowers our clients to take better decisions.

syndicated research

Our two established syndicated studies provide unparalleled competitive benchmarking data and insights into the decision-making of prospective students. In 2014/15, we moved Higher Expectations and PGT Plus (see Products section below) into the Cloud, making them fully accessible via online dashboards. These allow unlimited analysis offering great flexibility and value-for-money. Higher Expectations is probably the UK’s biggest insight resource on applicant decision-making, providing up to eleven years of trends data, benchmarking and diagnostics based on over 120,000 interviews. PGT Plus is a unique tracking study that provides actionable insights into what is a highly complex series of markets for taught postgraduate courses.

coverage

Student recruitment

In a competitive market, it is more important than ever to understand how potential students make decisions on where to study. We work with our clients to generate this understanding, using mixed-methods studies that build on insight from the unique OpinionPanel Community. We are uniquely well placed to make your budget go further because of our expertise gained through many years of working in these areas, from our long-standing syndicated products Higher Expectations and PGT Plus to our numerous bespoke projects. Our student recruitment insight helps our clients maximise their recruitment potential.

Brand strategy

Choosing a university is a big decision. Increasingly, potential students are relying on what feels right rather than on objective assessments built on the growing set of brochures and statistics. However, HEIs don’t have large datasets on how potential students feel about them before they apply. Our ‘brand essence’ technique closes this information gap by capturing students’ feelings and presenting focused insight on a universities’ relative brand strengths and weaknesses. Our clients uses this brand insight to make strategic choices to convey they want to be perceived.

Course development

Testing a market for course development and setting fees is a notoriously difficult task for universities. In fragmented marketplaces, universities are often forced to rely on historic data from HESA and UCAS, or market data on what other universities charge, to glimpse possible futures. Using the advanced technique of Choice-Based Conjoint, we offer clients the possibility of creating insight rooted in real preferences and launching courses that have a better chance of success from day one. Our clients use our interactive simulators built on these data to develop the most appropriate course offers and strengthen their appeal to the students they wish to attract.

Student experience

Students are universities’ most credible messengers. Current and past students’ views on their study experiences are increasingly becoming a part of the decision-making process for potential students. Capturing and understanding the student experiences, and acting on feedback, are indispensable aspects of successful recruitment. We work with our clients to design student experience studies that go beyond the quantitative headlines and explore what drives satisfaction. Our clients use these insights to support their students experience strategies and align priorities across professional services.

Alumni sentiment

Members of the alumni diaspora help to shape how a university is perceived. As people who can speak with authority and perspective about their experiences, universities increasingly view alumni as partners as well as donors. We use our deep understanding of university systems and data to work with clients to glean insight from these diverse groups. Our clients use these insights to help build enduring partnerships with their alumni.

Secondary analysis

HEIs generate a lot of data. From internal student surveys to the NSS, more insight can be wrung from existing responses without the time and expense of commissioning new fieldwork. At YouthSight, we are experts in coding and interpreting open comments from surveys, combining quantitative datasets in meta-analysis, and interpreting findings within our clients’ specific circumstances. Our clients use the results to spread deep understanding across the institution, and to show students that the university respects all their feedback.

Get in touch

We care about the HE sector and we want to make a broader contribution. We often produce insight for the media and send our free HE Research Snippets to clients. If you’d like to receive our Snippets or ask the team a specific question, please get in touch.

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