Higher Education Research

Over the last couple of years, universities have been hit hard by the pandemic. They’ve had to grapple with a change to remote or blended teaching, financial insecurity, uncertainty around A-level exam results and infection spikes – all of which has had a huge impact on the student experience. Facing such challenges amid changing student (and parent) expectations, there has never been a greater need for evidenced-based decision making.

As an experienced higher education research agency, we help HE providers and policy makers gain crucial insight to better support students before, during and after their higher education experience.

How we help

Looking for tailored research solutions designed to meet your specific objectives? Our team of higher education research specialists will support you throughout the process, from project design, through data collection and analysis, to reporting and dissemination. We’ll offer expertise and advice to ensure your project meets your objectives and delivers impact.

Below are just a handful of the areas we can help with.

Student recruitment

As the financial cost of higher education rises and students choose alternative learning routes, understanding the nuanced factors involved in student decision making is more important than ever.

Using our wealth of experience exploring learner and consumer decision making in the HE sector, we can help you better understand student choices using qualitative or statistical techniques such as trade-offs and segmentation.

Student experience

Student recruitment and retention are hugely dependent upon the experience institutions provide. From the learning experience to support services and accommodation, there are many factors which both influence student wellbeing and overall experience.

We can help you better understand what your students think of their time with you. Using a variety of mixed-methods such as deep dive qualitative research with students and staff, online communities or quantitative surveys, we’ll help you optimise performance and provide the best experience for your students.

Employability and outcomes

Higher Education is about equipping students with the right skills and experience to move into the next phase of their life.

We can help you evaluate course performance, capture graduates’ outcomes, explore the factors that influence these and identify changes needed to meet the requirements of the graduate labour market. Through our work designing bespoke outcome surveys for universities, conducting employer research addressing skills gaps and our ability to interpret a range of labour market datasets, we are uniquely placed to bring you actionable insight on graduate employability.

International partnerships

With the internationalisation of HE, it’s crucial that the UK HE sector forges partnerships with other nations to increase cultural understanding and support international student recruitment and development of the sector.

We have conducted a range of studies which evaluate partnership programmes and inform portfolio strategies, helping guide institutions and policy in the UK and abroad.

Graduate Index

Collect insight on the broader outcomes that graduates achieve with Graduate Index.

Using seven social and personal measures, Graduate Index helps you understand what success really means to your graduates, and the wider impact of the higher education experience you offer.

Need to ensure that you’re gathering reliable and actionable insight? But lacking the skills or experience within your team?

Our higher education insight guide series might help. 

Over five handy guides, get top tips and best practice from higher education research specialists, to ensure your results have impact.

“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

Why choose IFF Research?

Maximise the impact of your research

Supported by our HE research specialists, you’ll receive real insight and actionable recommendations to drive your strategy

Enjoy a stress-free process

Our extensive experience of delivering high-profile HE studies, teamed with strong sector understanding, means you won’t need to provide lengthy context or worry whether we’ll understand your needs

Benefit from our international experience

Having partnered with HE institutions across the globe, we can help you gather insight to meet an increasingly international market

“It is a real pleasure working with IFF on the largest annual social survey in the UK. Their ability to adapt, attention to detail and adherence to principles of good practice in research have led to the establishment of a strong foundation for Graduate Outcomes. Good communication within the organisation and with HESA as their client has enabled us to tackle challenges in a timely manner while meeting critical deadlines. Being a solution-oriented organisation, IFF have made a significant contribution towards the successful customisation of the CATI system, in order to meet the most complex requirements of this survey.”

Neha Agarwal, Head of Research & Insight, HESA

Our Higher Education partners

Since 2019, IFF Research have been the British Council’s evaluation partner on two projects in our Education portfolio in East Asia…IFF’s work with us over the past year has been transformational in terms of delivering high quality evidence of programme outcomes, and in raising our understanding of how good evidence is produced and used to inform programme design and implementation. This work has gained praise across the organisation and is helping us to develop models for evidence and evidence use across other programmes and regions.”

Gary Mundy, Regional M&E Advisor, East Asia, British Council

Case studies

To find out more


Looking for information on what we offer, how and who we help? Download our credentials pack today.

And, to discuss your specific needs and how we might help, please complete the form below to contact our Head of Higher Education, David Vivian.