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The Challenge

Competition among universities to recruit the smartest students is tougher than ever. Institutions need to balance their growth (more accepted applicants) with maintaining the highest academic standards. Getting this balance right is a fine art.

When the University of Bristol decided to review the way it handled offers, the recruitment team first needed to get a better understanding of how the offers themselves influenced perceptions of the University for applicants. Research was needed to provide evidence for an important internal discussion about the University’s offer strategy.

“It was important for us as a team to lead this discussion and make sure it was based on evidence”
UK Student Recruitment Manager, University of Bristol


The Solution

We ran an online community with 16 applicants who matched very specific profiles, as specified by the University of Bristol. Participants were given a variety of tasks to conduct over three days. They interacted with our moderators and each other, sharing personal stories and opinions on each others’ comments.

We explored how participants felt about the offers they received from different universities, perceptions around these competitor universities and attitudes towards particular communications sent by the universities.


The Outcome

The findings were disseminated throughout the University via a project debrief presentation, led by our senior researchers, which featured a diverse group of around 30 stakeholders from various departments.

Our research proved instrumental in providing robust and evidence-based insights to enable the University to make their final decision on possible recruitment tactics. The decision taken after our presentation has now been fully implemented and embedded in the University’s offer strategy.

What next?

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