Cara Lambregts

Data-driven recruitment: Insights from Michael Turnbull, Market Insight Analyst at Robert Gordon University


The use of data is essential for making evidence-based decisions, spotting opportunities and testing hypotheses. From using trends and forecast data, to measuring the effectiveness of your recruitment efforts, data can help universities spend increasingly limited budgets in the most effective ways.

Michael Turnbull, Market Insight Manager at Robert Gordon University shared his insights into data-driven recruitment and his experience of working with Studyportals

Q: Why did you decide to work with Studyportals in the first place? What kind of problems were you trying to solve? Or what kind of data gaps were you trying to fill?

A: The university has access to a wealth of historical information that has been quite useful in understanding what’s happening in the marketplace, how the university is performing, what its market share is, and what kind of course trends are happening. Although these data sources are quite useful, they’re a couple of years old. They also don’t really say what’s happening in the future or people’s future intent. In particular, one market segment that we were having some problems with accurate information was in the international online market segment. Ultimately, what the university really wanted was future focused information: will the university make the right decisions in terms of cost portfolio development? Are the university’s current courses actually marketed to the right countries?

There are two different elements that we have used Studyportals for: One for that market assurance, and that we’re in the right place at the right time, but also what is helping inform our course portfolio development in the future as well.

Q: In terms of the growth of internationalism at your university, how much do you think Studyportals is a factor in that? 

A: We use a suite of data sources, of which Studyportals is an integral part, when we are looking at international marketplaces, both in terms of on-campus and online development. So, we have combined Studyportals with two or three economic data sources, as well as consumer data sources.  Studyportals is very much a key part of our arsenal in terms of making sure the university makes smart decisions.

Q: What results have you seen from using the dashboard, and from making this data part of your decision-making process?

A: It has been very useful in monitoring trends and also pointing out markets where we might be looking at for marketing and recruitment efforts. The other thing that has been very useful is portfolio development, some of the Robert Gordon University schools have come to market insight team and asked for information as to whether there should be a there’s an international market for the course that they’re offering. We have been able to supplement historic data with future-looking data and point out where there might be some market opportunities for them. Overall, the dashboards have been embedded into reports and been received favorably by our schools and central services, to make sure that we are making the right decisions in terms of cost portfolio development in the future.

Q: How is data-driven decision-making embedded into your recruitment strategy?

A: As a recruiter, it is integral. So the university is very much data-driven and future-focused and we do use a variety of datasets to inform our recruitment decision making. This has been a process that has been happening for the past five years, since I started at the university – to incorporate far more market insight for facilities to the institution itself. .So we understand as a UK site, attractive destinations and what kind of subjects that are of interest. We also use it as part of the course portfolio development that we are working on at this moment in time to reassure people that we have the correct courses. So that’s generally how we use the dashboard day-to-day.

Q: Regarding the dashboards, do you find them to be accessible?

A: It is quite an intuitive interface and it’s easy to understand. Really, the way that some of the charting has been set up to actually identify key market opportunities is very simple for us to identify, interpret, and also implement to reports.

Q: Is there anything else that you wanted to add?

A: Studyportals is a fantastic tool. It has been instrumental. It is very useful to us in terms of enabling that future-focused decision making that all universities should strive towards. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

For more updates, follow us!


More Blog Posts