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As universities announce the level at which they have set the tuition fees they will charge for degree courses from 2012, a YouGov survey finds that only just over a quarter (27 percent) of people in the UK believe that a degree will be value for money. In addition, just 12 percent of respondents feel that these fees will reflect the quality of each individual university and only 19 percent think that the fees reflect a university’s position on the league table.

Strategic brand, marketing and communications advisor, StrategicFusion (, commissioned the YouGov survey to accompany its own qualitative research that explores the tuition fees issue. The results are revealed as many universities announce that they will charge the maximum fee of £9,000 set by the government.

The overall objective of StrategicFusion’s research project was to better understand the challenges faced by UK universities in an increasingly competitive market. This will require them to differentiate themselves in order to attract students.

The key findings of the survey are as follows:

• 27 percent of respondents agree or strongly agree that, despite increased tuition fees, overall a degree will represent real value for money

• 12 percent of respondents agree or strongly agree that a university’s proposed tuition fee will accurately reflect its overall quality

• 19 percent agree or strongly agree that increased tuition fees will reflect the university’s league table position

• When asked to pick the three most important factors that would influence their choice of university 71 percent of respondents selected teaching quality, 60 percent chose graduate employability and 38 percent opted for overall prestige & reputation.

“Universities are entering a new environment in which, to be competitive, they need to articulate both value for money and justify the level of fees they are charging,” explains Stephen Rogers, managing director of StrategicFusion. “From the fees already published, it is clear that price is not going to be a key differentiator because of the large number of universities charging the highest rate.”

Rogers continues: “While this is undoubtedly a new and challenging prospect, we think it also presents universities with a real opportunity to strength their market positioning and brand proposition. The YouGov research highlights the need for a compelling and clearly differentiated brand reinforced with effective communications in order to address current misperceptions about universities, as well as definitively express why students should select them.

“The universities that successfully adapt to this changed landscape will be those that understand this need and act on it in four key ways: create a clearly differentiated brand proposition and positioning; proactively align themselves with the values and expectations of students and fee payers; communicate in a way that is meaningful, easily understood and based on evidence; and deliver on what they have promised,” Rogers concludes.

Commissioned by StrategicFusion, the quantitative research was undertaken by YouGov. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2046 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 15th - 18th April 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

For a full copy of the survey data, please contact Kate Alexander: / +44 (0)7788 584413


About StrategicFusion

StrategicFusion is an integrated strategic marketing, brand and communications advisor. It focuses on fusing corporate and business strategy with brand and marketing strategy so that its clients engage with their audiences, both internal and external.

Using its ‘Envisage, Enhance, Engage’ methodology StrategicFusion works with organisations to enable them to develop and articulate a unique identity using creativity and innovative thinking. Combining its client-side and consultancy-side experience, it offers a way of working that matches the individual needs of each client.

StrategicFusion works across a wide range of sectors, and clients include Balfour Beatty, British Midland International, The Go-Ahead Group plc, Hogg Robinson, Finmeccanica, Russell Reynolds Associates, The University of Exeter and University of Derby.

Kate Alexander
PR consultant
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8543 8481 / +44 (0)7788 584413

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