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The Student Sentiment Index

The student sentiment index (SSI) is an indicator designed to measure student sentiment, which is defined as the degree of optimism/positivity that prospective students exhibit toward the education system, and their personal educational ambitions.



The Student Sentiment Index

The student sentiment index (SSI) is an indicator designed to measure student sentiment, which is defined as the degree of optimism/positivity that prospective students exhibit toward the education system, and their personal educational ambitions.

Introducing the Student Sentiment Index

The Student Sentiment Index is designed to measure prospective student’s optimism or positivity towards the education sector and how it reflects their likelihood to commence study.

The Index began in 2016 and has continued every month since. The index is calculated each month on the basis of survey responses from a strategically representative audience. The survey focuses only on prospective students (people wishing to commence study within the next 24 months). It therefore acts as a lead indicator for the education sector. We work with a leading actuarial consultancy to build and continually improve the Index.

Much like the Consumer Confidence Index acts as a realtime indicator of spending and saving habits by Australians, the Student Sentiment Index acts as a leading indicator of prospective students enrolment behaviours.

Understanding the sentiments, motivations and behaviours of prospective students is invaluable to anyone operating in the education sector in Australia. The Student Sentiment Index reflects how prospective students are feeling, which is of even greater importance to education stakeholders than data about existing and past students.

Why We Created The Index – Data in Realtime

There is no key indicator in the education sector which shows how prospective students perceive the system. The only real indicators are lagging, like enrolment data and reports issued by government departments. Due to the enormity of collating, analysing and producing these reports, they can often be 12 months or older when they are released. Therefore, they do not prove very useful in forward planning for key stakeholders.

Changes in the sector can have a flow on effect to the operations of many different stakeholders, so the SSI is primarily concerned with how government and education providers can shape policies, strategic decisions and operations to suit prospective students who are looking in the market to further their education.

We created the Index because we found a number of issues in the education sector including:

  • There is no existing indicator containing data and insights about the sector in realtime
  • No data to show the effect policies have on prospective student’s willingness to study
  • There is a need for an independent data source to support existing data collections
  • Outdated data is not useful in future planning decisions by education stakeholders

How it Works

The Student Sentiment Index has been an on-going data collection project that has been in effect since 2016. Responses are gathered monthly where each question is weighed proportionally against four key sub-indices–student urgency, motivation, sensitivity to funding options and confidence in the sector.

The index uses a quasi-representative survey to capture insights, where tools are used to generate responses. The reason for us taking this approach was that as mobile technology becomes more prevalent, quasi representative data is becoming more widely embraced, providing a unique opportunity to access audiences that use the same technologies that are being offered in our marketplace.

We use a quasi-representative approach to data collection, which means that:

  • Responses are gathered only by those considering study
  • Respondents are those that use our online tools

Who We Surveyed

  • Responses are collected monthly
  • Prospective students looking to study in the next 24 months
  • Australian citizens
  • Over 18 years old

The Four Sub-Indices

Understanding the sentiments of prospective students is complex, so to help with this, we’ve created four distinct sub-indices that work together to create deeper insights into this segment. In simple terms, increased student sentiment across the indices indicates a healthier education sector, where prospective students are more likely to act on their desire to engage in further education.

Student Urgency Index

Measures how quickly students wish to commence their study

Student Confidence Index

Measures how confident are prospective students that the eduction system will meet their needs

Sensitivity to Funding Index

Measures how sensitive are prospective students to the funding landscape? i.e could changes to funding arrangements affect their decision to enrol?

Student Motivation Index

Measures how likely are prospective student to complete their studies and perform well


The Student Sentiment Index

The four sub- indices combined create deeper insights into the sentiments of prospective students. Increased sentiment overall indicates a healthier education sector, where prospective students are more likely to act on their desire to engage in further education. The trend line in the SSI below shows a gradual increase in student’s optimism or positivity towards the education sector since data collection began.


student-sentiment-index

The SSI shows that potential student confidence has gradually returned over the last two years
Candlefox, (2018)

Who Benefits From the Index?

The Student Sentiment Index is high relevant to anyone working, operating or delivering education in Australia. From education providers, policy developers and government bodies, through to industry and research bodies; the Student Sentiment Index is an ongoing data source which will continue to deliver key insights into the education sector for a range of stakeholders.

Education Providers

  • Greater scope insights
  • More refined marketing message and targeting
  • Develop unidentified marketing insights
  • Refine service offering that aligns with sentiments
  • Accurate forecasting and planning strategy

Policy Developers

  • Realtime indicator of the impact of policy change
  • Policy recommendations
  • Insights into response to funding

Industry

  • Realtime indicator industry health
  • Identify gaps in industry support

Research Bodies

  • An additional, unique and independent data source
  • Identify gaps in industry support

The SSI covers demographic data such as age, region, level of education and even marital status which can prove invaluable to marketing and strategic operations.

This is a great resource in knowing where to target, what message is important to different student segments and what approach to take. For instance, is a particular age bracket showing a greater level of urgency? How can this segment be more effectively targeted to increase acquisition? Knowing if a segment of the market is more confident can help with developing ways of treating these student enquiries.

Another benefit of understanding the sentiments of prospective students is that it can change the way they are first approached after initial enquiry, with less focus on immediacy of sales and instead shifting to a more relaxed sales structure if they show signs of decreased confidence levels or motivation.


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