UCAS Data Matters Conference in London

January 27, 2011 –

Linda and I are back in London now (still no rain!), and today spoke with the Times Higher Education (THE) at their offices in Red Lion Square. Reporter John Morgan and Deputy Editor Phil Baty were quite interested in how Maguire Associates deals with issues of university pricing, access and globalization. We had a fascinating conversation and will keep THE apprised of the latest thought leadership in the US that will be particularly useful to universities in the UK as they navigate new pricing models and a more competitive market.


Linda being interviewed by Times Higher Education (picture order, John, Linda, and Phil. Sarah was behind the camera again.)


Day 3 – January 26, 2011

So far there hasn’t been a drop of rain in London this week! Yesterday Linda and I journeyed to Liverpool to meet with our longtime friend John McCarthy, Director of Marketing, Recruitment and External Relations at Liverpool Hope University. It was graduation day at “Hope,” and the national and international press was on hand to report on the first graduate to earn an MA in The Beatles.  We saw Mary-Lu whiz away from the University on her way to the airport after graduation ceremonies.

Linda with John McCarthy at Liverpool Hope University

Sarah and John McCarthy on the opposite side of the Liverpool Hope University Coat of Arms

John treated us to a tour of the campus, and we came away quite impressed with their facilities, particularly the stunning new Education building.

The beautiful new Education building at Liverpool Hope University

Liverpool Hope has done a tremendous job of blending “old with new” architecture in a seamless way for the benefit of students and staff alike. Later, we had the privilege of presenting some of our pricing and financial aid findings and case studies to a group of Hope’s administrators, including Vice-Chancellor and Rector Gerald Pillay. The day was topped off with a lovely dinner near Penny Lane (remember the Beatles song?) with Penny Haughan, Dean of Students, Ian Vandewalle, Pro Vice-chancellor of Resource Management & Planning, and Graham Donelan, University Secretary.

Our friends from Liverpool Hope University (picture order is Linda, Ian, John, Penny, and Graham—Sarah took the photo!)

Sarah and Linda did their “tourist bit” and learned that there really is a Sgt. Pepper’s nightclub! It’s a rather dilapidated, unoccupied building at a major intersection near Penny Lane.  We always thought Sgt. Pepper’s was just an album. The next day, as we left Liverpool, we drove by “Paddy’s Wigwam” which looked to us like a giant spaceship, and we also got to see the Liverpool Cathedral, which is so large it could fit Saint Paul’s London inside of it.

 The real Sgt. Pepper’s 


Day 1 & 2 – January 24-25, 2011

Linda and I arrived in London to 45 degree temperatures—balmy by Boston standards this week! We are renting a beautifully restored flat that was originally a Mews. In the 17th and 18th centuries Mews were essentially stables and carriage houses with living quarters for grooms and servants above. Now they are fashionable residences. 

Linda Maguire, Vice Chair of Maguire Associates, busy working in our lovely flat!

A peek from our window.

Yesterday evening we had a lovely dinner at Tuttons, Covent Garden with Paul Ashby, Head of Market Research and his colleague Roderick Smith, Director of Admissions, both from the University of Birmingham (see picture below).  The University of Birmingham is on the leading edge of enrollment management in the U.K, and Paul and Roderick recently attended the AACRAO-SEM conference in Nashville.

Today we presented at the UCAS Data Matters Conference held at the Hotel Russell in London. This was the second such conference for marketing and planning professionals hosted by UCAS, and over 200 people were in attendance. Our presentation “Preparing for 2012: Using Data to Determine Value and Inform Pricing” was delivered to a packed room. Pricing is a hot-button issue among British universities at the moment because the tuition fees will triple from about £3000 per year  to £9000 per year (about $14,500) in 2012. Students in London have been rioting about the tuition increases in recent weeks, and we learned that there have been short-term building takeovers in universities. This move by Parliament will introduce market competition among Universities that has not existed before and highlights the importance of using bursaries and scholarships to defray the top-line price and promote access.

Parliament has not yet decided on a scholarship scheme, leaving admission and planning professionals wondering what they are going to tell families in print and in person. Planners have been advised against talking with one another about their university’s pricing plans to prevent the appearance of collusion. Maguire Associates approached the “institutional value and price” issue head-on and advised that university planners and market researchers begin collecting data from students and parents now, so they can back up important pricing decisions in the next year with solid information instead of guesswork.

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