Shift learning

Market research for the Education sector

Universities, HEIs and FEIs

The HE and FE sectors are currently undergoing unprecedented changes. Never before have they been under greater pressure to deliver more for less with institutions responding to changes on student funding, raising of the participation age to 18, funding cuts, increased student fees, rising student expectations, international opportunities and threats, and increased competition and accountability. In addition, technological changes are making electronic learning a reality, changing the way that higher education and marketing to students is delivered and consumed globally.

We understand the structure of HE and FE organisations and are confident in providing professional market research in education by working with or interpreting comprehensive data sets, including publicly available and internally held data.


We offer a range of services to educational institutions, including:


  • Research into new courses and qualifications
  • Launching a new course is a big investment for a university. Shift Learning have conducted numerous projects assisting institutions in testing ideas for new courses at undergraduate and post-graduate level. These projects have included desk research and competitor analysis alongside primary research with potential students, careers advisors, employers and international agents, both in the UK and internationally.


  • Research into teaching and learning and support services
  • Once students are enrolled, it is important that they are fully supported to make the most out of their course, leaving satisfied and fulfilled. Shift Learning can help universities and higher education institutions to identify where support is need and how it is performing currently, using a range of methodologies, both qualitative and quantitative.


  • Market research with students
  • Ensuring the satisfaction of students on graduation has never been more important to universities than it is now, with league tables and the new TEF placing additional emphasis on the all-important National Student Survey (NSS). Shift Learning have developed methodologies to help identify the factors which might impact most strongly on NSS satisfaction scores to help institutions find solutions which really make a difference in the short and long-term.


  • Research with alumni
  • Maintaining a good relationship with alumni can have a number of benefits for universities and other higher education institutions (HEIs). Shift Learning helps higher education institutions understand the needs and attitudes of their alumni, helping them create more compelling communications and services and to deepen alumni involvement. Techniques such as cluster analysis enable us to help you segment your alumni effectively, helping to create strongly targeted strategies.


  • Evaluating approaches to EDI and widening participation
  • Shift Learning are strongly supportive of initiatives to widen participation and strengthen diversity in higher education. We can help institutions evaluate and improve current initiatives, using primary research or investigation of the institution’s own datasets using statistical methods to investigate these issues.


  • Brand and communications research, including brand tracking
  • In a more competitive environment, a university’s brand has never been more important. Investment in new branding is expensive and time consuming. Recent news stories have illustrated clearly the need for any changes to brand to be thoroughly tested prior to launch. Shift Learning has experience both in qualitative evaluations of brand and rigorous quantitative work such as brand tracking, brand perception research and the creation of perceptual maps.


    We are also expert in user experience research, enabling you to receive feedback on websites or other digital communications tools, so essential in student recruitment.
    We also have a field research team, who can research at events such as open days.


  • Pricing and business model research
  • With increasing differentiation in university fees looking likely, understanding potential responses to price is an increasingly important area. Shift Learning are able to investigate this complex area using a variety of techniques.


  • Environmental analysis, PEST analysis and strategic support
  • Shift Learning can act as a support to higher education institutions in the development of medium term strategic plans through support in strategy development, workshopping and environmental analysis via desk research.


  • Consultancy for campus development
  • New buildings and improvements to estates are key to the strategic plans of many universities and HEIs. Shift Learning can use innovative research techniques to help higher institutions really understand how learners and staff interact with their environment, isolating the factors which really impact on staff and student experience.


  • Staff consultations and staff policy consultations
  • Obtaining the support of staff to changes is important. Shift Learning has also conducted research with university staff in support of the development of new staff policies and strategies, aiming to help institutions deliver these changes smoothly and effectively.


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