Higher Education Research

2020 has been one of the most challenging years to date for the higher education sector. Hit hard by the pandemic, universities have had to grapple with a change to remote or blended teaching, a financial hit, uncertainty around A-level exam results and infection spikes and student experience challenges when autumn term began. Facing such challenges amid changing student (and parent) expectations, with an inhospitable labour market, there has never been a greater need for evidenced-based decision making.

We help universities, HE organisations 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 HE research specialists will support with you throughout the process, from project design, through data collection, analysis, to reporting and dissemination, offering 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 appropriate 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.

Graduate Outcomes and Employability

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.

“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

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.

Working alongside the British Council we have conducted several studies which evaluate partnership programmes and inform portfolio strategies, helping guide institutions and policy in the UK and abroad.

IFF Global Higher Education experience

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

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

Our Higher Education Team

David Vivian, Higher Education research director

David Vivian

Director and Head of HE

With more than 20 years’ experience of higher education research, David has designed and delivered some of the most extensive and high-profile studies for HESA, OfS and DfE, as well as working with individual institutions. His work on the NSS, the DLHE survey series, Graduate Outcomes and the Employer Skills Survey makes him an excellence resource for institutions and policy makers alike.

Catherine Turner, Director of Research

Catherine Turner

Director

Catherine has 12 years of HE research experience, ranging from bespoke studies for individual institutions, to large scale impact and process evaluations for DfE. Catherine’s expertise includes student recruitment, funding, graduate employability and access to postgraduate study.

Andrew Skone James Director of Higher Education Research

Andrew Skone James

Director

With 10 years of research experience, focusing on higher education and employer skills, Andrew’s focus lies in policy research, undertaking studies for public sector clients including DfE, Office for Students, HESA and Universities UK. In recent years Andrew has led an array of international-focused research for the British Council and The European Association of International Education.

Our Higher Education Partners

Case Studies

To Find out More

Contact us for more information about our higher education research services