Bridging the gap – Julie Vincent about market research and the decision-making process

On Wednesday 14th November, Julie Vincent, Managing Director at Vincent Consulting, presented key findings from the Options 2018/2019 report, which shares the perceptions and decision-making journey of over 10,000 students.

Having produced the insightful analysis and reporting on behalf of The Student Room, Julie shared her secrets to a successful market research project. According to Julie when creating your questionnaire you must mirror the audience taking part, this means tailoring your approach, tone of voice and messaging to encourage engagement and increase the likeliness of volunteered feedback.

Julie commented:
“We invite people [to take part] on a platform where they choose to be, and I think this is really important.”

“Parents and family are key influencers throughout [a student’s journey], and much more so than school teachers and career advisors.”

It’s not surprising family background influences pathway choices, but we found it remained a strong voice for student decision-making all the way through their journey, from year 11 to graduate employment. Options revealed parents were not necessarily influencing the decision not to go to university but making their children aware of the facts, including costs and the debt wrapped around higher education.

We also found those from more advantageous backgrounds, such as pupils who did not receive free school meals or where both parents attended university, were more likely to understand the scope and scale of costs at university.

Julie shared the reasons why young people chose not to go to university:

• The cost of university (61%)
• The drive to earn money (51%) and the possibility to go back to university later if they needed it (33%)
• Don’t want to study anymore (28%)
• Not relevant to my future career (27%)


When it came to apprenticeship perceptions, Julie highlighted 63% of respondents believe there is still a stigma attached to apprenticeships and 56% said they’d be more interested in an apprenticeship if it was run by a top university.

It feels like apprenticeships need a halo effect of a university brand to give it the same credibility as choosing an academic pathway. On the other hand, respondents are still confident an apprenticeship would secure them a job with a good income with only 10% thinking it will lead to low-income employment.


“The expectations of young people are really high.”

Looking at this in Options, Julie shared how young people expect more from their employers than previous years with regards to formal training, a clear progression plan, an annual pay rise and flexible hours.

As well as this most undergrads were expecting to stay in their graduate job for no more than two years, which raises interesting questions about their perceptions of what their career looks like and how they aim to progress in the future.

Our government attendees found these insights of value and, although Options focuses on educational pathways, it showcases how research collected on The Student Room can uncover unique insights into the youth and student market. Download the full report here.


If you are interested in exploring more about students’ behaviour, have a look at our round-up of the day and discover a students’ perception of student life and education in the UK. Or sign up for the second event, taking part on the morning of 20th of March 2019 in London.