At a glance

Through a combination of horizon scanning and primary research methods, IFF assessed the University of East London’s portfolio in the context of the local economy to help inform future course development and align the university’s strategic priorities to local employer needs.

About the client

The University of East London (UEL), dating back to 1892, is a careers-led university, dedicated to supporting their students to develop the skills, emotional intelligence and creativity needed to thrive in a constantly changing world.


Challenges and objectives

In June 2017 the university was awarded a bronze TEF award. The accompanying DfE statement concluded that progression to employment and to highly skilled employment was below the established benchmark. Given this, and the university’s important role in creating local employment opportunities, research was needed to identify:

  • Skill needs of local employers of the next ten years
  • Local community needs in the next 10 years
  • How employment will look in the ten years (gig economy, self-employment trends)
  • Growth sectors in the East London area
  • New employers moving to the area and the job opportunities they could bring
  • Competitor analysis to drive the context

“IFF were fantastic to work with. They ensured through effective communication and collaboration that our brief was followed. The final output was carefully crafted to our specification…it was clear IFF were keen to meet our needs. Furthermore, the team continued to offer support in ensuring that the research could make an impact within the institution with the offer of workshop sessions.”

Dr Anthony Mansfield SFHEA, Senior Strategic Planning Manager, UEL


As experts in skills, labour market and higher education data, information and trends, IFF were uniquely placed to provide the knowledge and experience UEL needed. The solution comprised a multi staged methodology:

  1. Horizon scanning activity – the aggregation, analysis and interpretation of a bank of existing secondary data and reports relating to current labour market needs and future forecasts
  2. Driver mapping – the identification of key trends and factors shaping the long-term development of the labour market
  3. A review of UEL’s degree programme provision as well as that of their direct local competitors
  4. Focus group discussions with local employers


The UEL portfolio development strategy has been used to help them implement ‘Vision 2028’, a 10-year strategy to transform UEL’s curriculum, pedagogy, research impact and partnerships to make a positive difference to student, graduate and community success.

“The research provided us with dynamic views of the portfolio and the East London labour market which has been used in our course approval process. The work completed by IFF has assisted us in developing our own portfolio development research further than before.”

Dr Anthony Mansfield SFHEA, Senior Strategic Planning Manager, UEL

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For further information on higher education research and horizon scanning, contact Catherine Turner, Higher Education Research Director

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