The Open University logo

The Open University

Pre-sessional English Online Research

The brief 

The Open University (OU) were considering the development of an online pre-sessional English course for non-native English speaking students who wish to study in the UK, with the aim of increasing their IELTs scores. Shift Insight conducted research to explore whether there was a market for such a course and how it could be designed to appeal to international students looking to study in the UK. ​

The approach

We conducted the research for this project in two distinct phases:​

  • Phase 1: Desk research into relevant statistics and market reports, along with a broad competitor analysis of 101 online pre-sessional courses, and detailed competitor analysis of 25 courses.​
  • Phase 2: 20 in-depth interviews with international agents that recruit students from a range of countries, as well as top-level questions to UK HE admissions departments regarding their requirements for entry. 

The value

Shift produced a detailed report of the findings from the desk research and competitor analysis phase, followed by a final combined report of research phases 1 and 2. These reports included a short executive summary, key findings, recommendations and conclusions to inform a strategic approach to the development and marketing of an online pre-sessional English course with the Open University.