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University of Manchester

Our work uncovered areas of weakness not previously considered by the University’s internal surveys, and provided a blueprint for subsequent improvements.


The University of Manchester (UoM) is a highly reputable college of higher education and is one of the largest single-site universities in the UK. Part of the prestigious Russell Group, Manchester holds twenty-five Nobel laureates amongst its alumni.

Our research shows that open days are amongst the most persuasive ‘moments’ that universities have at their disposal to influence student choice. Improving them – even by a small percentage – can have a significant impact on annual revenue.

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

The Challenge

Each year over 25,000 prospective undergraduates attend Manchester’s main open days. So, it’s not surprising that the University needed robust evidence to inform their open day strategy and maximise event impact and conversion.

Key questions that the University had included:
– What do prospective students expect from an open day?
– How do Manchester’s events live up to those expectations?
– Are competitors doing better?
– If so, who are they, and what do they offer that UoM doesn’t?

Our approach

To answer these, Manchester subscribed to YouthSight’s Open Day Success tracker. This product is part of our Higher Education Success Suit, a collection of tracking tools that provide powerful consumer insights via online dashboards and on-site workshops.

The project began with a workshop tailored around Manchester’s main challenges. This brought together key stakeholders from across the University, from events teams to department leaders.

The aim of the workshops was to uncover areas of weakness in the University’s events, and assess these areas against prospective student expectations. Findings would ultimately be used to offer ways in which open days could be improved.

The outcome

Our work helped Manchester change the way open days were organised, uncovering areas of weakness not previously considered by the University’s internal surveys and providing a blueprint for subsequent improvements.

Our latest Open Day Success data shows that the improvements have lifted open day satisfaction, whilst also boosting a sense of ‘belonging’.

The University’s insight and recruitment teams regularly access their online dashboard to use as a source of evidence to inform and validate strategic change.

Open Day Success gave us the data we needed to understand how best to modify, improve and personalise subject talks and departmental tours on the day. We’re pleased with the results. Overall, subscribing has been a big benefit to improving our open day impact and conversion

University of Manchester