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Stakeholder research for a college group

I was incredibly impressed with the stakeholder perceptions research carried out by MMC. By conducting in-depth, anonymised interviews with our key stakeholders, they were able to help us understand what our stakeholders thought about the improvements we'd made in the last couple of years and importantly gauge their feelings about the direction we're heading in.

Not only did we receive fascinating quotes and insights, we also welcomed the strategic recommendations on how to take the research forward.
Ellen Thinnesen, Chief Executive, Education Partnership North East


Education Partnership North East (or EPNE) comprises Sunderland College, Hartlepool Sixth Form and Northumberland College. 

Northumberland College had undergone mass transformation since it merged with Sunderland College in March 2019. Prior to the merger, the college, which had around 2000 students, failed to meet national minimum standards for apprenticeship delivery. The state of the college prior to merger had also led to intervention by the FE Commissioner who required the college to dissolve its corporation and merge with a more successful college. It was also judged to be ‘requires improvement by Ofsted’.

Two years after the merger, the EPNE executive team and Northumberland College Principal wanted to gauge stakeholder perceptions around its current reputation and get input into its vision moving forward.   


MMC conducted in-depth, qualitative research interviews with eight of Northumberland College’s key stakeholders. These stakeholders included education providers (primary and secondary), local authority executives, the local enterprise partnership, regional chamber of commerce and employers within the region.  

To start with, a quantitative-style question was asked to ascertain and compare how each participant viewed the college pre- and post – merger (on a sliding scale of 1-5), providing a loose baseline figure to benchmark against in future research projects.  

After this initial question, we moved towards the semi-structured qualitative research interviews, using an agreed topic guide to capture the data required. We then produced a themed report. Within the report we provided an executive summary and then grouped emerging themes together, supported by anonymised quotes. The report provided detailed recommendations throughout and finished with a conclusion and suggestions of ways forward. 


The result of the research so far has been a clear direction for the college’s future strategic journey, closer alignment and showcasing of business partnerships through strategic marketing, and a key appointment of a dedicated industry lead for manufacturing and engineering across its college group. 



Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

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