College Recruitment and Curriculum SWOT Analysis

RCU were commissioned by Nottingham College to carry out a detailed analysis of their local learner market, identifying strengths, weaknesses and potential opportunities in respect to their local recruitment and curriculum offer. The purpose of this study was to inform the newly merged college’s strategic plan for marketing and recruitment and to support ongoing curriculum planning within their core learner markets.

Nottingham College was formed following a merger between New College Nottingham and Central College Nottingham in June 2017, creating a brand-new college for the city. The college prides itself on not only providing a center of excellence for teaching and learning within the city of Nottingham but providing excellent opportunities for the local community to learn and develop a comprehensive range of skills for the workplace.

Using the Vector market intelligence tool, RCU were able to identify the current size and trends in the local learner market alongside any potential growth or decline resulting from demographic changes. We carried out an in-depth analysis, using Nottingham College’s own enrolment figures and market share at a local level to identify geographical areas which presented the most opportunity for growth.

We designed the following Matrix which was used to segment both recruitment and curriculum areas, making it easier to identify areas with the greatest potential for growth.

In addition, we mapped out the college’s curriculum profile, in each of their core funding streams, and compared these to the overall profile of subjects and courses delivered by other providers in the local area. This was then used to determine specific strengths, weaknesses and opportunities within the college curriculum. (16-19 funded learners, adult learners and apprenticeships).


Using the Vector analysis alongside the matrix tool shown above, were able to map out and identify specific areas, at local authority ward level where the college benefits from strong recruitment and also where there is a greater potential for growth. According to Simon Kirby, this has enabled Nottingham College to get the most out of their marketing budget, maximising their ROI.

In addition, the College have been able to identify specific strengths and weaknesses within their current curriculum offer, based on key indicators such as market share, size of the market and growth opportunity. Using this detailed course level data provided in the Vector report, the college have also been able to identify specific gaps in their curriculum (in respect to demand and local skills needs) and explore the potential of introducing new courses or designing marketing campaigns to promote awareness in these areas.


“The insight gained from this analysis has really helped drive our recruitment and curriculum strategy forward. Thanks to RCU we have been able to identify specific opportunities for growth and can plan our marketing communications more effectively, maximising our ROI. We are also able to ensure our curriculum offer is better informed by demand and provides the rights skills to our local community”.

Simon Kirby, Director of Marketing and Communications at Nottingham College
Simon Kirby, Director of Marketing and Communications at Nottingham College

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