The Challenge


A university in Scotland had seen a drop in applications from students living in other parts of the UK. What was behind the decline?

Could it be the university’s northern location?

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The Solution


To get an in-depth look at what attracted or deterred students from this university, YouthSight convened two online focus groups from a database of prospective students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland who had already inquired about studying at the university.

The whole project from design to completion took just over a month.

The findings revealed that location was not, after all, a key driver in students’ considerations. In a lot of cases location was just a function of where the right course was available. And the fact that the university is in Scotland was not a big issue for applications from the rest of the UK.

The Outcome


YouthSight’s research highlighted the complexity of the issues underpinning students’ choices and highlighted areas of opportunity. It also revealed how much – or in some cases, how little – they knew about the university and the city where it is located, and where they got their information.

Material from the online groups, including verbatim quotes, brought the issue to life for the client and allowed them to get under the skin of prospective students and their views of the university.

Ultimately the findings allowed the university to see beyond the obvious answers and build decisions on a robust foundation of evidence.

What next?

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