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UBC Creates Its Own Focus Group of 5,000 Students and Alumni

At a time when universities are keenly interested in boosting recruitment and improving the student experience, the University of British Columbia has borrowed an idea from companies that depend on consumer panels or focus groups to give them valuable feedback on their products and service.

The university announced in September that nearly 5,000 students and alumni had volunteered to be members of its new online Open Minds Forum that will let them voice their opinions and make suggestions through interactive surveys, providing the university with almost real-time research data.

“It’s not going to replace surveys like [the National Survey of Student Engagement] or town hall meetings,” said Kari Grist, managing director, communications and marketing, for UBC. “But it will help us understand what students and alumni are thinking right now. It gives us a finger on the pulse.”

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