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New College of Humanities

Increasing applicant enrolment


New College of the Humanities (NCH) is a higher education college in London. In recent years the college has experienced a rapid growth in prospective students interested in applying to the university (known as prospects).

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

The Challenge

Strangely enough, this growth had not been matched with an increase in acceptances (applicants enrolling at the University).

This meant NCH were not hitting their targets, despite knowing that their offer was attractive to prospects.

NCH needed to unpick why these prospects were not converting so they could prevent this happening in the future. YouthSight delivered actionable insights that made this possible.

Our approach

We conducted in-depth phone interviews using NCH’s ‘Prospects and Influencers’ database as a sample source. The survey results were supplemented with insight from our Marcomms Success tracking product to frame and contextualise the research findings.

We measured just under fifty decision factors that drive university choice and performance in comparison to key competitors. Our tracking product revealed that ’employability’ and ‘reputation’ are high priority in decision-making – attributes that at the time were not strongly associated with NCH. This gave our client incentive to reinforce messaging of their ‘Launch Programme’ and are currently running a series of webinars for prospects, which are focused on employability.

We also identified that prospects were concerned that future employers would not recognise the value of a degree from NCH, due to lack of awareness in comparison to ‘longer established’ institutions.

The outcome

Evident from the research was that NCH’s brand messaging was not cutting-through (such as information about NCH’s Open Day events), so prospects were not actively seeking out information from the college.

In response to this we worked with our client to deliver a comprehensive retention plan, which ensured prospects received the information they needed, at the right time and through the right channels – packaged in a personalised way, which NCH’s prospects love.

We provided actionable insights that NCH applied and implemented in their 2020 recruitment cycle, which resulted in a huge growth in retention and acceptance rates.

Prior to the research, NCH’s accepted to enrolled rate was 63%. In 2020 it was 98%.

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

YouthSight (now part of Savanta) always gives us fascinating insight to help us evolve and refine what we’re doing. This project was one example of how incredibly useful their research is, which went beyond its original purpose.

New College of the Humanities