At a glance

Our multi-faceted study for the University of Portsmouth (UoP), explored innovative and flexible ways to deliver Postgraduate taught (PGT) courses. Through a combination of mapping and evaluation analysis and primary research with prospective students and employers, nuanced recommendations were developed for each of UoPs key markets.

About the client

The University of Portsmouth is one of the largest universities in the South of England with over 25,000 students, including over 4,000 postgraduates students. Whilst officially granted university status in 1992, it can trace its roots back to the Portsmouth and Gosport School of Science and Art, founded in 1870.

Challenges and objectives

In acknowledgement of the strengths of its PGT teaching faculty, the UoP set out a clear vision within their 2015 – 2020 institutional strategy ‘to grow provision in the areas of postgraduate, part-time, CPD and flexible modes of delivery’. With these strategic objectives and growth market potential in mind, the UoP sought research aimed at providing responses to the following questions:

  • Can the university grow PGT recruitment via adoption of more flexible delivery methods, including block, evening, flexible, distance, blended learning, wrap around hours, accelerated, intensive, weekend learning?
  • Can new audiences be identified with the interest in the above defined PGT methods of delivery?


The research design was holistic in its approach to understand not only potential prospective student interest in various forms of flexible PGT courses, but to assess this in relation to UoP’s internal capabilities, local and national employer demand, and the activities of its key competitors. The solution therefore required a phased mixed method design:

Phase 1

  • Employers’ needs horizon scanning exercise identifying the specific skills shortage vacancies in the Local Enterprise Partnerships relevant to the UoP.
  • In-depth interviews with local and national employers – uncovering perceptions of course content and design that is most beneficial for potential candidates.
  • Mapping and evaluation analysis of the current PGT portfolio identifying recruitment trends and areas of opportunity.
  • Competitor activity development of a competitor framework for assessing areas of strength for postgraduate competitors.

Phase 2

  • In-depth interviews with key internal stakeholders – ensuring recommendations take account of the relationship between faculty related goals, and the overall strategic PGT growth objectives for the institution.
  • Perceptions of PGT considerers – quantitative survey of 500 PGT considers in each of UoPs key markets of the UK, Nigeria, India and the UAE.

Download this case study


Click to download the case study: Flexible Postgraduate taught provision for different markets

For further information on higher education research, contact Catherine Turner, Higher Education Research Director.

Recent case studies