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Plymouth College of Art

Maximising new course success

Andrew Brewerton (Principle, PCA) described the work as one of the most useful pieces of research he has commissioned, and one year on, the research continues to be consulted and used as a blueprint for course development.

Background

Plymouth College of Art (PCA) is a specialist art school, the lion’s share of whose students are undergraduates on art, craft, and media courses.

Our market research consistently shows that course suitability is the key factor influencing prospective undergraduates’ choices.

This research was originally conducted by YouthSight, now part of Savanta.

The Challenge

PCA commissioned YouthSight to test the titles of a range of new courses it was looking to introduce. The college wanted to ensure the new courses achieved cut-through, resonance and effectively communicated the course content and benefits.

To help the college optimise recruitment and boost attraction, we were also asked to provide insights on how PCA’s prospective Arts students make their university and course choices.

Our approach

Over the course of three days, we ran a community of fifty prospective students and parents. This was coupled with a large quantitative survey (n=1000) of media and communications, art and design, performing arts and art production students.

The results were provided to PCA in a detailed and highly accessible report. They were also shared during a client-site workshop which was attended by heads of departments, as well as marketing and insight professionals.

The outcome

We developed a ‘6 pillar’ methodology toolkit and set of tests for PCA to apply to their new course titles to maximise attraction for the upcoming launch.

Going beyond the launch, the toolkit was developed as long-lasting resource to inform all future course and portfolio changes. We also provided PCA with a table of their best performing course titles, with researched rationales. The table also included a schema on the key drivers, motivations and barriers for prospective Arts degree students, and the role of parents in decision-making.

The College principle, Andrew Brewerton described the work as one of the most useful pieces of research he has commissioned, and one year on, the research continues to be consulted and used as a blueprint for course development.

The research has been shared widely within the college and with its chosen advertising agency, who use the findings to inform media buying, targeting, copy and creative development.

This research was originally conducted by YouthSight, now part of Savanta.

This is one of the most useful, impactful and widely used pieces of research we’ve commissioned.

Andrew Brewerton, Plymouth College of Art

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