Universities UK partners with Sensu Insight on digital tool

15 May 2024 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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Research and measurement consultancy Sensu Insight has partnered with Universities UK to develop an industry-first sector tracker, to support strategic decision-making in higher education. With institutions under increasing pressure to attract more fee-paying students, the tool monitors national trends to provide users with real-time insights into key issues and public perceptions of universities.

Since the introduction of tuition fees in commenced the marketisation of higher education in England and Wales, universities have happily availed themselves of rising amounts, both from domestic and international students. However, they have also faced continued criticism for failing to improve their services in line with their heightened pricing.

Created at a time when higher education is high on the political and public agendas, the innovative digital tool monitors nationwide trends, providing real-time insights into public perceptions and key issues impacting universities. While initially universities largely thought they could get away with this by simply centring more heavily on international students – who pay higher fee rates – the pandemic and Brexit have stifled the flow of students from overseas into their campuses. Subsequently, universities which fail to pivot back to catering to the needs of UK students are already enduring a crunch in funding. 

Universities UK partners with Sensu Insight on digital tool

Sensu Insight is a consultancy which works with a wide variety of organisations from across the world. From banks to NGOs, from small consultancies to multinational businesses. It offers services to help those clients make better decisions through a greater understanding of their audiences. It also does this with the development its own digital research software.

Now, Universities UK (UUK), the collective voice of universities in the UK, has partnered with Sensu Insight to develop an innovative, industry-first Universities Sector Tracker. Acting as an expert consultant to the sector, Sensu will monitor live data analytics from emerging conversations about higher education, identifying recurring themes and trends in how universities are being perceived by the public. This valuable intelligence will help to inform institutions’ strategic decision-making processes around issues from how they engage with public and political stakeholders, to their approaches to student recruitment. 

Julian Roberts, client liaison for the project with UUK, commented, " Our partnership with Sensu Insight ensures that we have the most up-to-date information and can be responsive, making decisions that support stakeholders and, ultimately, the industry’s reputation and efficacy in turn. With access to comprehensive data and trends, universities will be much better equipped to understand their position within the broader higher education landscape and among peer institutions. We’ll also garner a better understanding of conversations taking place and issues coming to light at a systemic level, enabling us to respond in a more informed way. 

The collaboration kicked off with an initial benchmarking phase - the results of which have already influenced some of UUK's ongoing initiatives. Looking ahead, Sensu will provide regular reports and real-time monitoring of various UUK campaigns and issues of industry importance, providing in-depth insight that will enable the sector to benchmark and shape its communication efforts.  

Steve Leigh, managing director of Sensu Insight, added, “The sector is answerable to a range of very different stakeholder groups, from existing and prospective students to funding partners and politicians. Understanding how the conversation is evolving from Student Unions through to Parliament will be critical when it comes to effective communications and listening. Providing UUK with real-time insight into perceptions of the sector as a whole, as well as an in-depth look at more specialised and localised issues, will be a game-changer when it comes to planning meaningful campaigns and making informed decisions.”