International Strategy for Higher Education Institutions

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Posted on by Vicky Lewis and Julie Vincent

Listening and learning to deliver the best for our clients

Recently, Vicky Lewis Consulting and Vincent Consulting, both Higher Education specialists, partnered for the first time on a project related to international strategy development and decision making. We collaborated extensively and presented to the client together.

The feedback from the client was very positive and, as they are happy for us to share it, here it is!

Taking noteFollowing a competitive tender process, Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) commissioned Vicky Lewis Consulting and Vincent Consulting to undertake a significant piece of market research to help inform our strategy for increasing international postgraduate enrolments. We wanted to be confident of basing our decisions on rigorous data analysis coupled with a holistic understanding of the sector environment.

Vicky and Julie worked with us over a number of months. They were a joy to work with, keeping us informed every step of the way, but not overloading us with queries. Their depth of understanding of the HE sector was immediately apparent and they engaged effectively with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders.

The final report was an exceptional piece of work - exactly what we needed to steer our planning. It was clear that they had listened to stakeholders and produced something absolutely tailored to LJMU’s needs and stage of development. This also came through when Julie and Vicky presented their findings to senior staff. We were delighted with the way they collaborated seamlessly, pooling their collective expertise, and would highly recommend them.

Gemma Smith, Head of International Recruitment, Liverpool John Moores University

The need for evidence-based decisions

Global growth in international student mobility is slowing. At the same time, UK universities are grappling with strong international competition, the challenges of making students feel welcome above the background noise of a public debate on immigration, and the uncertainty generated by Brexit. They know they must act swiftly and decisively to strengthen their international engagement, but cannot afford to take ill-informed decisions that might open their institution up to financial or reputational risk.

An increasingly common response is to commission research and consultancy from experienced practitioners. This enables focus on the key questions that need to be answered, in order to make evidence-based and well-informed decisions. 

Listening to staff and partners

When we undertake consulting or research for clients, a key part of a project requiring staff consultation is internal and external interviews. We discovered that we both like to take copious notes when interviewing. We also found that we both categorise this process into three key areas:

  • Internal market intelligence

What staff know about student choice factors, key markets and marketing, targeting and decision-making challenges

  • Organisational insight

Staff perspective on internal structure and resources, historic approaches, best practice and barriers to change

  • Partner perspective

External staff or partners, and their knowledge of the market, the institution and its competitive environment.

Recommendations shaped by insights

When we present to clients, together or separately, these insights shape our recommendations and show staff that we listen, that we care about the outcomes, and that we are part of their team. We often fill gaps in resource, or experience, and are mindful of the pressures that staff are under.

We combine this with internal and external data, and wider higher education sector desk research, and this means that we are able to make recommendations that can be challenging, and take into account the implications for implementation.

We would like to say thank you to LJMU for choosing us to undertake this work for them, and for providing such positive feedback.

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