Among the many issues universities are grappling with right now, ensuring they are still relating to their prospective students and standing out from their competitors is one of the most crucial. And given the current reality, along with traditional ways of benchmarking and competitor analysis, such as looking at enrolment and graduation numbers, student satisfaction, and even the new graduate outcomes data, universities are going to need to find new ways of shining a light on what makes them stand out from other institutions.
What none of the traditional ways of benchmarking universities do, however, is give a view of graduate outcomes in terms of what a university’s alumni end up doing and who they work for. Yet if these outcomes could be identified, both for the institution as a whole and for various faculties, and then compared with other universities, this could provide a compelling way for a university to understand where it is placed against its competitors, whether amongst peer institutions or perhaps others in the same region. Our Profile Analytics data can help your university do this.
What is Profile Analytics?
Profile Analytics is a database of more than 11 million online professional profiles from across the UK, aggregated together from more than 130 different online sources, including professional networking sites, CV hosting job boards and HR and recruitment portals (this is all fully GDPR compliant). This data gives us key insights and analytics on the make-up of the UK workforce, but crucially for universities it can also shine a light on outcomes for graduates, and those of peer institutions, such as the companies they work for, the jobs they are doing, and the skills they are using. Although of course these profiles don’t include all graduates from all universities and the dataset is opportunistic in nature, the volume of profiles and diversity of sources is sufficient to make valid analysis and comparisons.
What general insights can universities glean from the data?
To illustrate this, let’s look at one of the 24 Russell Group universities — we’ll call it The University of Anonymous (UofA) — and compare it with the other 23. In total, we have 1.2 million profiles from all the Russell Group universities, of which 50,600 are from our anonymised institution.
The chart below compares the Top 15 companies that alumni from UofA say they are working for, in comparison to the other 23 institutions. Of particular interest is that UofA has a much higher proportion of its graduates working in the public sector organisations such as the NHS, Ministry of Defence, Royal Navy, but it also leads in some private companies, such as BAE Systems and IBM:
We can also take a deeper dive, by looking at the actual jobs that UofA graduates are doing. Again, we can look at the Top 15, and here we see that in terms of some of the highest profile and highest paid jobs — such as Director of Operations and CEO — UofA lags behind its peer institutions. However, there are a number of jobs in which it has a slight edge, such as Project Manager (Management); Software Engineer; and Head of Research:
What specific insights can universities glean from the data?
As we mentioned above, the data can also be looked at in terms of subject areas or faculties, which means we can compare and contrast different universities on a much granular and niche level. For the purpose of this example, we will look at Engineering. In total, we have 130,000 profiles across all Russell Group Universities, of which 7,500 are from UofA.
If we once again look at the companies that these universities’ alumni work for, we find a number of interesting things. For instance, there are some companies which UofA alumni are significantly above average in terms of representation, such as the Royal Navy, BAE Systems and the Ministry of Defence. There are even a couple — ARM Holdings and Environment Agency — which the profiles suggest UofA has almost a monopoly in terms of Engineering graduates. It is worth noting that this should be of particular interest in terms of employer engagement, the Engineering faculty itself, and even marketing:
Finally, we can also take a look at skills, once again comparing the Top 15 hard skills that UofA graduates say they are using, compared to all Russell Group alumni (note: the skills terms are extracted from the profiles using the open access Emsi Skills Library, which allows for connectivity to other datasets, and which you can read more about here). The data is, by its nature, somewhat more subjective than that for companies and job titles, since it is based on what each graduate in the profiles says they are using.
Nonetheless, the insight is of value, particularly to course designers in understanding which skills are prevalent, especially as they compare the skills UofA’s alumni say they are using with what graduates from the other 23 Russell Group institutions say they are using. For instance, whilst for the most part, the skills cited by UofA graduates tend to line up fairly well with those cited by all other Russell Group Engineering graduates, there are outliers such as Python (Programming Language) which is cited by a decent number of UofA Engineering graduates, but by almost none from the other 23 universities:
Why use Profile Analytics?
As we mentioned at the start, universities need to be looking for new ways to differentiate themselves from other institutions, both in general terms and in the more specific faculty and subject areas. The kind of data we’ve shown above can be used in various creative efforts to achieve this, including:
- Highlighting particular companies, occupations or job titles that your alumni are working in
- Demonstrating where your institution has an advantage over its competitors in terms of who your alumni are working for and what they are doing
- Showing prospective students how your university can lead them to career success
Looked at through the lens of our Profile Analytics, your university therefore has a whole new avenue of competitor analysis and benchmarking to explore, which can then inform your employer engagement, course design and your marketing and communications efforts activities.
To discuss how our Profile Analytics can help your university in the ways suggested in this article, contact us now.