How to increase the numbers of part time students

Key processes from EMP’s consultancy experience

UCAS forecast increasing importance for the part time market and research carried out for Hefce forecasts a substantial rise in part time income. EMP has worked with a number of universities where the measure of part time success was the number of students, measured by FTEs. One of the key part time markets is the B2S (Business to Students) market – where the “sale” is to individual students
The are a number of Key Success Factors for success in the B2S market. From our experience here are some of them:

  1. Attitude to the importance of part time

  2. Some universities take a passive attitude to part time. “We provide the course full time and part time for those willing to come to the campus on certain days”. Another attitude we have come across is “We only do a course part time if the relevant academic is interested”. Faculties need to take a more proactive and positive view towards part time. They need to see it as a separate market to full time with its own particular requirements. The part time market in future is likely to be much more lucrative than in the past. Universities must adjust to this new world.

  3. Make sure your existing part time courses are competitive

  4. Whether your existing part time course is largely face to face or online there is always competition. The first way to be competitive is to hold onto your existing market share. It’s the first rule of any business. The second rule is to regain lost competitiveness in key postcodes. And the third is to increase your market share in target areas. Of course, to be competitive you must know your market share, and to know your market share down to postcode levels. Universities must understand that in a competitive market being good is not enough. You have to be better. Relative trumps the absolute.

  5. Produce the right part time courses

  6. New courses must fulfil a strategic purpose. Either the objective is coherence with other courses. In other words it is needed to achieve a larger strategy. Or the purpose is to maximise the number of part time students taking the course. If the latter is the major purpose then all new courses must go through a rigorous cost benefit analysis to ensure they are successful. The key success factors for new courses are the subject of another article. Existing courses should be reviewed to see if they can be made more successful.

  7. Support key courses with appropriate levels and types of promotion

  8. There is always a shortage of marketing budget for promotion. But key courses need support, either to ensure successful market entry, to hold market share in core postcodes or to expand market share, for instance in areas where the university has lost competitiveness.

  9. Other Key Success Factors

  10. Partners
    Expanding student registrations on a part time course outside the catchment area of the main university campuses requires building up partnerships with other educational institutions, for instance colleges. Identifying and evaluating these institutions should be an on-going process.

    Course Delivery
    The success of a course is not only due to the academic content of the course. The success of face to face courses will depend on how the course is taught and how good are the back up facilities in the university for part time students. Facilities such as catering, libraries, IT and part time student admission. Teaching 35-40 year olds as if they were 18 year olds will not work!

    Cross selling
    How many universities lose most of their part time undergraduate students when they go onto postgraduate studies? Of course, where students go for their second degree will be determined by subject availability. But students should not be unnecessarily lost by the lack of processes to help students plan further studies.

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

    For more information on EMP's Strategy Development services click here