22 April 2016, London – Employability and financial assistance registered the largest increases when students were asked what mattered most when picking a further education (’FE’) college, according to this year’s WPM FE Trends report, commissioned by payments and processes specialist WPM Education. Conversely, course and institution reputation saw the largest drops compared to last year’s results.
In 2015 employability and financial assistance received 21% and 10% of the vote respectively, when FE students were asked to select the most important factors determining their college of choice. This year those figures rose to 26% and 17%. The percentages of students voting for course and institution reputation dropped from 37% and 30% to 29% and 21%.
Equivalent changes to parents’ attitudes weren’t forthcoming. Over both the 2015 and 2016 surveys they selected course reputation, proximity to home and the institution’s reputation/standing as their top three factors.
Holger Bollmann, Director of WPM Education, says: “We commissioned this research because we wanted to help colleges understand what influences the college choice of FE students and parents, and what they feel would result in them having a good ‘experience’ over the course of their studies. We couldn’t find the answers to those questions anywhere else.
“This year’s results suggest that FE students believe the job market is getting harder and they expect their colleges to help them get a foothold on the first rung of the careers ladder.”
The 2016 research also revealed increases in FE students regularly making use of credit card payments (8% increase), bank transfers (5% increase) and PayPal (5% increase). Additionally, there was a 7% increase in FE students using mobile phones for payment.
Bollmann continues: “We also noticed decreases in students and parents expecting FE institutions to take cash and cheques, and an increase in students and parents wanting to make all payments online. For the first time the majority of students – 57% – would prefer to use online – web or mobile apps – when paying for fees and services at college. This has increased from 48% last year. The percentage of parents wanting to pay online increased slightly from 64% last year to 66% this year.
“In addition to this, 29% of FE students said they’d complain to their friends and family if they received an unsatisfactory or bad experience when making payment to their college and 76% would be less likely to recommend the college. This shows how easy it is to turn students into detractors – payments shouldn’t be affecting a college’s ability to recruit in future.”
The survey also revealed a large increase in the numbers of students expecting to be able to pay for catering fees or physical goods using contactless -14% in 2015 compared to 27% this year.
The 2015 and 2016 surveys were carried out by YouGov and based on the opinions of 764 FE students and 1,190 parents of FE students.
For more information, access to further results from the surveys or interview/comment opportunities, please contact:
+44 (0) 207 580 6502
About WPM Education
WPM is the process specialist and payment expert within the higher and further education sectors.
Its Payment Platform provides the framework for a complete and totally integrated online system through which all an institution’s incoming online and electronic payments can be routed. WPM has provided a reliable, trusted means of payment processing with 24/7 industry leading service levels and support, for over 15 years. The PCI DSS compliant platform helps reduce compliance costs and risks.
For more information visit: www.wpmeducation.com