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Redesigning a research university’s programme architecture to focus on student needs

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Redesigning a research university’s programme architecture to focus on student needs

Nous’ depth and breadth of higher education expertise, astute analysis and collegiality were invaluable during the process of rethinking our approach to programme architecture.
senior executive, UK university

Our client is a research-intensive UK university.

The university wanted an efficient, agile and student-focused education offering

The university was facing falling National Student Survey scores in some areas, a growing focus on value-for-money, and fierce domestic and international competition.

Nous found that the university’s programme architecture – the framework that structures a university’s educational offer – was confusing, inflexible and complex in some areas, costing the university more than £4 million per year.

Therefore, the university engaged Nous to design a bespoke programme architecture to align student experience, maximise efficiency, prioritise teaching and research activities, and optimise student choice.

Our analysis, design and consultation aligned stakeholders

Nous’ deep analysis and consultation revealed that the existing programme portfolio presented overwhelming initial choice for new students and little subsequent flexibility. Incompatible programme structures constrained students from taking modules from other subject areas, and limited study abroad and work placement opportunities.

Our blended Nous-university team refined the proposed programme architecture in collaboration with professional services staff and academic staff from all faculties. This drew insight from those who would be impacted by the programme architecture changes and established their buy-in.

We enabled the university to think boldly about how its degree offering met the needs of future students. Working with students, we identified key benefits, including increased interdisciplinarity and employability skills, and built them into the programme architecture.

The university now has a resilient and practical programme architecture

The new programme architecture will support recruitment, growth and interdisciplinarity while supporting the university’s reputation for excellence in education and research into the future. The programme architecture has been designed to:

  • reduce administrative burden for academic and professional staff via a simpler process for creating and managing programmes and modules, enabling them to redirect time to research or student-facing activities
  • increase recruitment of high-quality students because of a clearer student value proposition, clearer student choices and more focused marketing activities
  • give a net financial improvement over four years through a systematic approach to modules and programmes with low or negative margins and an increase in student enrolments
  • improve student satisfaction as students feel less confused and have a more consistent experience across different departments.

What you can learn from this university

  • Staff and student perspectives are essential to building effective programme architecture.
  • A blended university-consultant team delivers rapid insight and context.
  • Students’ and employers’ requirements are regularly changing, so degree offerings must also change.

Key people in this project

All people

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