How can a university become a preferred partner for R&D and professional education?  By clearly understanding how the market perceives them, know what they need to do to become a preferred provider, and then commit to promoting themselves to the market.

While our client had a good reputation among employers, industry and students, that reputation was slipping.  Increased internationalisation of education and R&D sector was leading to increased expectations, a local market that was becoming more sophisticated and aggressive in building their profile, and a market that was no longer loyal to the university they had received their qualifications.  Our client was no longer sure what had worked in the past would work in the future.

After undertaking a review of all relevant past research and available public information, we spoke with senior university and faculty leadership to understand what they were seeing in their respective areas.  Their insights gave us a solid basis on which to engage industry and the right types of people we needed to speak with.

After the internal discovery phase, we then spoke directly with the business, government, and professional associations that engaged with the university and other universities and colleges.  We needed to know what was driving their decisions: what attracted them and what made them question using our client or other education institutions: higher or vocation education providers.  After this stage, our client had what they needed as input for their strategic plans and campaign development.  However, to ensure they were able to measure the impact of changes from their initiatives, we implemented an industry engagement and image tracker, and periodic workshops and interviews among their key segments and stakeholders.  This tracker was then given internal visibility by being built into their annual performance report.

With our client, and based on the insights from the project, we helped implement a broad strategic plan that significantly increased the university’s visibility and ongoing engagement with their student, employer and stakeholder base.  This engagement strategy embedded insights from the research on how these customers wanted to engage with the university, and what types of outcomes they wanted from R&D and education partner and led to improved perceptions and outcomes for the university.