Family and friends – in particular parents – top the list of those who influence students’ education choices, according to new research published today (11 September).
The study, conducted by ResearchBods on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Education & Skills Group, examined the main influences on choice of academy, school, college and university among both parents and students.
The research is released as Section 29 of the 2011 Education Act comes into force, placing schools under a duty to secure access to independent careers guidance for their pupils in school years 9-11.
Louise Jaggs, the group’s chair, said:
The research shows just how much sway parents have on the education choices of young people. Parents are at the heart of the decision-making process, and they in turn are heavily influenced by the views of other family and friends.
The results also raise important questions about the role of professional careers advice in the decision making process – family and individual teachers appear to have much more influence on choices than independent advisors.
Beyond the main findings there is a wealth of information in this research to help teachers, managers, policy makers and education communications professionals understand who and what shapes the decisions about where people want to study.
The full survey data, which we are making freely available to CIPR members, is likely to be particularly useful for communications and public relations professionals seeking to understand who drives the reputation of different education institutions, and what matters most to different groups.
Louise Jaggs, CIPR Education & Skills Group Chair
Key findings include:
- Friends and family have more influence on a parent’s view of a school or college than a head teacher or careers advisers
- A third of parents do not believe that the education their child has received has enabled them to achieve their full potential.
- Over 90% of parents believe they and their children have made informed decisions about education
- Choice of study-course, teaching reputation, location and position in league tables are the factors most likely to influence a parent’s view of a university. Tuition fees and living costs were ranked #12 and #8 respectively out of a list of 16
- Parents rank themselves, school teachers, friends and other family members as the most influential (in that order) in decisions about which academy, school or college their child would attend
- Students rate their parents’ influence on the decision relating to which academy, school or college they would attend almost as highly as parents do
- For students, location is the most important factor in this decision-making process. Exam results, progression into further study, a safe and supportive atmosphere and good buildings and equipment are also ranked highly
Fuller details of the survey findings can be found in the accompanying summary document (PDF format).
The research was conducted by market research experts, ResearchBods, in August 2012, with 579 student and 510 parent respondents. ResearchBods is an independent research agency specialising in providing ‘robust, responsive and responsible’ consumer research panels – including education panels.