Star grades for this college?
Rotherham College wanted to develop its market position by targeted marketing campaigns and a potential rebrand. To inform this process, the college wanted to understand how stakeholders and the wider community viewed the college and its current offering. They also wanted to gain insight into their external reputation.
The objectives of the research were:
- To understand levels of awareness and knowledge about the college among the local community.
- To gauge stakeholder and local community perceptions of the college, including comparisons with other local education establishments.
- To explore factors affecting the choice of education establishment, for both 16 to 18 and adult learning.
- To measure potential levels of interest in studying at Rotherham College, for either 16 to 18 or adult learning.
- To obtain profile information of those with different levels of awareness of, and interest in attending, the college.
- To investigate the views of local employers about working with the college.
Phase 1: We conducted 506 face-to-face interviews among those living within ten miles of Rotherham. Interviewing took place on different days of the week and at different locations.
Phase 2: We ran four focus groups in Maltby and Rotherham. Two were with parents and their children aged 14 or 15. The remaining two were conducted with 16 to 18 year olds.
Phase 3: We carried out 50 telephone interviews among employers currently working with Rotherham College. An additional 20 were conducted with ‘prospective’ employers who were not currently working with Rotherham College.
Our face to face research showed there was room for improving the understanding amongst local people as to what courses the college offered. In addition, there were some brand recognition issues highlighted. For example, only 24% of those surveyed could identify the college logo.
Regular communication with employers could be improved. Work was also needed to encourage them to recommend the college. However, there were positive reactions from employers about offering work experience and other benefits to the College.
The focus group research brought forward some useful ideas to help make the college more appealing. These included:
- making the logo more meaningful
- increasing and improving advertising
- greater links with schools to make students more aware at an earlier age
- more promotional taster days and opening evenings
- offering help with transport costs or other incentives
Rotherham College took forward the research results to raise awareness and perceptions of the college.