How to Build a Part Time Strategy for a UK university

How EMP produced part time strategies for five faculties

EMP was asked to produce an evidence based part time strategy for a university composed of five faculties. About one of the faculties there were serious concerns about its future viability. The first thing to do was to understand the current part time situation for each of the faculties. Some of the key questions which needed to be answered were:

  • Which were the main courses?
  • What was the trend in FTEs by subject?
  • What proportion of the total FTEs was taught on campus?
  • What proportion of total FTEs was taught through partners?

It was also important to quantify the B2B component of part time FTEs, because certain faculties had significant contracts to supply contract teaching to private and public sector organisations. Above all it was important to get a five year run of data to see what the key trends were.
Significant amounts of data were obtained from within the university and from outside agencies such as Hesa. Further “soft” information was obtained from interviews with over 40 academics and university officers. From these sources it became obvious that Faculties faced a number of challenges, among which were:

  • understanding the competition from other universities and private HE providers
  • developing a flexible market-responsible new course production process
  • understanding the need for a rigorous cost-benefit analysis of new courses
  • eliminating part time courses with small numbers of FTEs
  • developing a coherent B2B process for relationships with companies and public sector organisations

It was important to develop a Faculty report which, among other things, provided a common basis between Faculty members and other parts of the university, for example marketing. How competitive was the Faculty compared with other players? What was the market for key subjects? Who were the main players? Which postcodes were the major battlegrounds between competitors and how well was the client university faring?
The research and analysis through up some surprising conclusions. Until the report had been produced few faculty staff in the client university knew who their major competitors were and where they were losing or gaining competitiveness and by how much.
The one faculty with the most to worry about received their report with gratitude. “At least we know where we are” the Dean remarked. “we can see just how far we are off the pace”. The work EMP did formed the basis for a systematic approach to restore the Faculty to good health.


Take a look at 2 other strategies which EMP has found are very important to universities:

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