Informing Curriculum Planning

Informing College Curriculum Planning – User Feedback

Earlier this year we sent out our annual feedback survey so that our clients would have the chance to let us know how and why they use the Vector market intelligence tool, and more importantly to have their say on any potential updates or improvements they would like to see in the future.

We were delighted that so many colleges responded to the survey to let us know their thoughts and had great things to say about the positive impact Vector has had within the college, such as:

“Staff have identified popular courses and gaps in our provision. We can identify demand for courses we do and don’t offer”

“It has helped us align our curriculum to demand and local market needs”

“The market share information by area is very useful to see where other providers are making inroads in our catchment area, identifying a need for us to increase marketing in specific areas”

“We can see the areas and courses we have lost students from and plan accordingly”

What activities does Vector inform?

In the survey we asked Vector users to let us know what activities within their organisation Vector is used to inform. The results highlighted three key areas, Curriculum Planning, Marketing & Student Recruitment and Strategy & Decision Making.

  1. Curriculum Planning (38% said this is the primary use)
  2. Marketing and Student Recruitment (34% said this is the primary use)
  3. Strategy and Decision Making (28% said this is the primary use)

Users were asked to review the extent to which the Vector tool and data has helped them in these three activities and provide specific examples of good practice. In this article we will share the feedback on how Vector has informed Curriculum Planning with colleges, and will look in more detail at the other two areas in separate articles which will follow in the coming weeks.

Curriculum Planning

The most popular use of the Vector tool and data is to inform the curriculum planning process. This is a hugely important activity of the annual planning cycle within colleges, to ensure their curriculum portfolio not only suffices learner demand but also local skills needs and desires of employers and the wider community.

Our feedback also identified that while some clients want to control the information centrally (typically within the marketing team), the majority are now encouraging their wider curriculum teams to access and use the data in Vector to inform the annual planning and decision making process. This encourages them to take greater ownership of the data and ensure they are equipped with reliable and up to date intelligence about learner demand and skills needs within their own curriculum areas.

In the feedback survey, respondents were asked a number of questions specific to how Vector helps them with curriculum planning.

First of we are delighted to report that 100% of respondents either strongly agreed or agreed to Vector helping inform curriculum planning. Here’s how the responses looked:

In response to other questions, it was also great to see that 86% of users agreed or strongly agreed that Vector data had helped them to align their curriculum offer to local demand. This is one of the key targets we set for Vector over the past year, following the introduction of Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) data including employment forecasts and skills shortages of jobs. The balance of learner demand and our new LMI data aligned to technical education is clearly helping users to compare and balance course provision within their local area to employment demand.

83% also agreed or strongly agreed that Vector has helped identify strengths and weaknesses within their curriculum offer. The detailed course level data included in Vector is designed to enable users to compare their enrolment volumes and market share across different funding streams, subject areas, technical education routes and qualification levels with other education providers also recruiting from the local area. Demand for this information is clearly a requirement and enables providers to ensure they can plan their provision accordingly, identifying strengths or weaknesses within their own curriculum and ensure they can respond to the needs of the local community.

The following table shows the response to all questions relating to curriculum planning:

Here are a handful of the most popular comments our users provided in response to questions about using Vector to inform curriculum planning:

  • “Vector provides benchmarking on courses we run compared with local competitors, linked to market share”. Click on the images below to open as interactive tables.

  • “Course / Programme managers are required to use data to inform any decisions around curriculum planning”.
  • “Staff have identified popular courses and gaps in our provision. We can identify demand for courses we do and don’t offer”.

  • “We have used it to find where we have stronger and weaker areas of recruitment for different subject areas”.
  • “It has helped us align our curriculum to demand and local market needs”.

We also recently put together a case study showing how we used Vector to produce a detailed SWOT analysis of Nottingham College’s recruitment and curriculum, identifying areas of strength and opportunities for growth.

In our next article we will focus on how users are using Vector to inform Marketing and Student Recruitment.

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