Increasing mature student recruitment – completing December 2020

The Office for Students has identified reversing the decline in higher education participation by mature students as a key priority relating to improving fair access to higher education. However, mature students have different hopes and fears, media habits, decision-making processes and information needs than their younger counterparts. Our latest collaborative insight project will generate fresh intelligence to help widening access and recruitment teams engage in a more sophisticated way with this unique audience.


Why join the project?

Smarter strategy
Inform the strategy and work involved in communicating and engaging with prospective undergraduate mature students effectively
Fresh evidence
Provide evidence to support your university’s activities with mature students for widening access plans

Identify opportunities for new programmes or initiatives that could better support mature students decision-making journeys
Engage stakeholders
Provide an evidence base to engage stakeholders in a joined-up approach (e.g. faculties and alumni)

What does the project explore?

  • What is the decision-making process for mature student applications? How does this differ from typical applicants?
  • What are the key drivers of decision-making and what influences decisions? How does this differ from typical applicants?
  • How do Universities make it into consideration sets? What influences this?
  • In what way are the media habits and information seeking behaviours of mature prospective students different?
  • What specific hopes, fears and aspirations are underpinning prospective mature students’ information needs?
  • What types of messaging, tone and visuals will resonate effectively with mature students?
  • How does this differ across the different styles of undergraduate study? (e.g. full, part-time, distance, blended learning)

How does it work?

Alterline’s unique collaborative research model brings universities together to work on common challenges and build communities of innovative practice. By taking part you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Share ideas and build links with other institutions
  • Save time and resource with Alterline’s full-service research support
  • Gain detailed insights from the full strategic research report and easily implement actions from the practical recommendations
  • Easily share high level insights with your key stakeholders from summary documents and presentations.

We will:

  1. Start the process with a workshop with the collaborating partners to share views and shape the research
  2. Conduct a desk review to support the project
  3. Design a qualitative interview guide and circulate it for comment
  4. Conduct exploratory depth interviews with 20 to 30 potential/current mature students
  5. Based on the initial findings from the depth interviews, design and run an online qualitative research community and expand our sample to 40 to 50 people
  6. Undertake detailed analysis of the qualitative data
  7. Provide you with a strategic research report and set of practical recommendations
  8. Run a concluding collaborative partner workshop on 8th December 2020 to discuss the results and share action ideas with you.

How much does it cost?

Joining this collaboration now means you will have access to the valuable insights and practical recommendations immediately for just £5,950 (excl. VAT), a fraction of the cost of commissioning individual research, giving you superb value for money. You and your stakeholders will also be able to attend the 8th December online workshop to discuss the results, network and share ideas to put the insight into action.


Find out more and join
If you are interested in finding about more about the project and joining contact Sharon Steele, Client Communities Manager at