• August 18, 2017

University aspirations, decision-making & influencers amongst 6- to 18-year olds: a collaborative research project

Universities spend a great deal of time, energy and resources attracting new students. For many of our clients, improving their knowledge and understanding of how young people make decisions about university and what influences those decisions is vital to making their marketing and recruitment smarter, more effective and thoughtful.

Bringing together nine universities as part of a collaborative ‘University Futures’ research project, we plan to capture new evidence about how young people view university from early childhood through to adolescence, mapping children’s and young people’s thinking, aspirations and expectations at key stages from aged 6 to 18.

We know from our work with 16- to 18-year olds that applying to university can be complex, daunting, challenging and exciting all at the same time! Rather than a purely rational process, choices about university appear to be shaped by a series of conscious and unconscious decisions taken over a period of years. We want to find out more about what it is that influences the thinking of young people.

At what age do children start talking about university (if at all)? What do they know about university? At what age do some children start assuming that university is part of their natural educational progression? When does the issue of careers and subjects become important? Who is influencing them? Guiding and cajoling them? What do they think university means in terms of money, career, friends and family?

A powerful, robust and rich dataset will be gathered through a quantitative survey, focus groups, and interviews with children and young people aged from 6 through to 18.

The outputs of the project will inform marketing and communications strategies for the collaborating institutions across key life stages; help develop more targeted and meaningful interventions with children and young people; and enable smart collaboration with crucial influencers, media platforms and channels.

Participating institutions:


To find out more about the collaboration, please contact Laura Hotchkiss, Collaborations Lead, on 0161 605 0862 or laura.hotchkiss@alterline.co.uk