Vicky Hayhurst17/06/2019

Last year, we conducted a joint research piece with our friends at IDP Connect to look into whether it was possible to change the opinion of prospective students just by showing them rich media content.

We uncovered that content produced by Revolution Viewing would change opinion and, more importantly, prompt action. In fact, we found that 79% of prospective students* would be more likely to attend an open day for a university they were not already considering (rising to 89% for a university they were considering) if they’d seen our content.

Even more encouraging was that 55% said they would be more likely to apply to a university they were not considering (again rising to 89% for a university they were considering) after engaging with our content.

So, if good content can have such an impact, how do you make sure that prospective students actually engage with it?

One way of doing this is to influence the influencers. Parents and teachers have a huge impact on the universities that their children and pupils consider. This in turn influences the content which is consumed or sought. So if you’re not thinking about what influencers need from content and how to capture their attention, you are definitely missing a trick.

To help us learn more about how we can meet the needs of parents and teachers, Havas recently undertook an in-depth research study of one of our solutions. The study consisted of an audience evaluation of the Pathways website which was produced by Revolution Viewing to enable an NCOP consortium of universities (De Montfort, Loughborough, Leicester and Northampton) to communicate with prospective students, parents and teachers from low participation postcodes in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire.

The purpose of the Pathways website is to engage these audiences in aspects of university life to increase the likelihood of students from specific postcodes considering university as an option and going on to enter Higher Education. 

As part of the website evaluation study, Havas ran focus groups with each audience group. Here are some key insights from the study which relate to parents whom were found to play an incredibly important role in how their child would even approach the question of university:

  • Parents were most likely to focus on the financial and career benefits of university for their children (teachers/school staff articulated a wide range of benefits related to the knowledge, skills and career prospects it would impart to their students). 
  • Concerns that parents had about their children attending university were related to financial concerns – especially being in debt – and moving into a new and stressful environment.
  • Some parents also doubted the career benefits of attending university with others also thinking that their child might not be suitable for higher education. 
  • In many instances, there were far larger gaps in parents’ knowledge about Higher Education compared to that of their children – some were unaware that their children could apply to more than one university, unaware that UCAS charged a fee to submit their application, unaware of the submission deadlines and unaware of the process of selecting a ‘firm’ and ‘insurance choice’. 

In short, the study recommended more information and interventions specifically catered to parents – this included basic information about the university application process, how financing works, stats/case studies about the career benefits of university and more information about the ‘social’ aspect of university. 

It was very interesting to see how, just by being armed with accurate information, the opinion of parents changed. After using the website, many parents said that they would be more likely to encourage their children to consider university when previously they thought it would not be a financial or academic possibility.

If you would like to know more about this study, including more detailed insights and recommendations for the audience groups who took part, please come along to the inaugural HEIST Conference on Thursday 11th July in Manchester. We would love to see you!

*Out of 550 prospective students surveyed from Years 11, 12 and 13.