How can research help you adjust and refine university targeting strategies?

Trendence UK and Accenture have come together this year at the AGR conference in Brighton to demonstrate how research is being practically used to adjust and refine university targeting strategies, and how taking a data-first approach to setting targets (especially diversity goals and apprentice recruitment figures) can be invaluable for senior management.

Here are some key points from our session:

#1: Adjusting your university targeting strategy is one of the most efficient ways to improve diversity

By taking student intention data (which groups of students want to apply to you, and why) along with brand image data (what do students believe you, as an employer, can offer them?) and combining that with student population data from HESA, you can build an attraction strategy that actively changes your diversity balances.

Below you can see some key student population statistics: HESA statistics on ethnicity and Trendence UK statistics on socio-economic profile. Before you even begin adjusting your university targets and your campaign, we would recommend that you compare your own applications against these figures to see how you measure up.

Ethnicity: UK University Students
HESA figures – to see the latest figures from HESA, visit
White 78% | Asian 10% | Black 6% | Mixed/Other 5%

Social Profile: UK University Students
Trendence UK Graduate Study 2017 -
Lower Socio-Economic Students: 23% | Higher Socio-Economic Students: 5%*

#2: Taking a data-led approach to target setting and recruitment strategy leads to better application figures, conversion rates, and hires

When setting business objectives and diversity targets, it’s useful to begin with the actual student population figures and to build your targets from there.

The statistics below show you the percentages of female students studying different subjects, from the low 25% of engineering and tech to the high 71% of education (sourced from HESA).

These figures give you the ability to accurately assess how far ahead – or behind – the sector average your application figures are, and to base your targets around the actual profile of the student population.

Percentage of Female Students Studying Particular Subjects
HESA figures – to see the latest figures from HESA, visit
Education 71% | Languages 68% | Medicine 66% | Creative arts & design 65% | Social studies 59% | Law 56% | Business & related 52% | History & philosophy 49% | Physical sciences 39% | Maths 36% | Computer sciences 27% | Engineering & tech 25%

#3: Building an apprenticeship attraction strategy with research as the foundation will increase your chance of success

Conducting a successful apprenticeship campaign is difficult: school students are starting from a lower knowledge-base, which means they do not have enough knowledge about certain industries and certain employers to make informed application choices.

The kind of attraction data provided by Trendence UK and the individual schools data available from the Department for Education provides you with what you need to plan an effective apprenticeship campaign.

The Department for Education data is particularly comprehensive, and publicly accessible: anybody can explore the demographics and academic achievements of individual schools through the DfE statistics portal, and we would recommend that everyone enter the apprenticeship space gives it a go. If you need guidance on how to use the DfE data effectively, you’re welcome to give the researchers at Trendence UK a call.

*We use three measures to define Social Profile: Parental Education, School-type and means tested funding. For a student to be included in a category, they need to meet all three requirements (i.e. students from a Lower Socio-Economic Profile are those whose parents did not attend university, that went to a state school and that are eligible for means tested funding. The reverse is valid for Higher Socio-Economic students).