QMU Strategic Market Research Report | Red Brick Research

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Queen Margaret Union University of Glasgow


All the angles covered

1. 2.



Research Background

▪ ▪


Executive Summary & Recommendations 4

3 priority areas for improving the University of Glasgow experience:

Supporting students with their wellbeing / mental health and working together with other Student Bodies to improve the situation for all students


Owning the cultural offer for students and help them to make the most of their time 42% 37%

38% 49% 19%

“The ideal student body would routinely engage with their members, checking if they’re providing what people want/need”


“The ideal student body would get you to interact with people you wouldn’t interact with otherwise, and be inclusive”

Owning the cultural offer for students at Glasgow & help them to make the most of their time (recommendations)

• • • •

• •

• •


Supporting students with their wellbeing / mental health and working together with other Student Bodies


“My mental health has been awful since starting my postgrad in September. I've been on the waiting list to receive counselling since December. The support isn't there and it's shocking�


Supporting students with their wellbeing / mental health and working together with other Student Bodies (recommendations) “I think offering an open space where people can come and chat if they're feeling down or lonely would be good. Right now everything seems to be formalised events rather than a casual thing that's open to all.”

“If they could advertise it more and work to destigmatise it [mental health] that would be nice.”

“Group discussion groups with a focus on mental health could be invaluable to those who encounter stress, anxiety and depression at university and would allow people to share healthy coping mechanisms and discuss unhealthy ones in a riskfree environment.”


Helping prepare students for life after graduation

48% 31%


46% “Career advising is a bit of a joke – it gives you websites that are utterly useless in my experience. They need links with more areas of industry, so there are contacts students can actually use.”


Helping prepare students for life after graduation (recommendations) “I think it would be good to hear more from previous graduates on overcoming challenges after graduation often we only hear about the successful people.”

• • • • • • • “I would like more help with getting hired, e.g. psychometric tests/ online video interviews/ assessment centres that many companies use.”


Underpinning the success of these priority areas is the necessity to advertise and promote your efforts ▪

19% ▪

73% “They need to engage more actively with the students and advertise their events.” – non-QMU member

“Make the membership benefits clearer, to attract new people.” – non-QMU member

“Get on people’s Facebook and advertise hard.” – QMU member

“They don’t advertise what it means to a member, so I don’t see any point in joining.” – non-QMU member

“I’m sure the QMU is doing a lot of great things but if we don’t know about them, we can’t attend.” – QMU member

“They should promote their events more and organise things that GUU isn’t offering. That would improve their view.” – QMU member


The Glasgow Experience 13

Three quarters of students are satisfied with their University experience


Students want a lot from their university experience… ▪

“I wanted to attend university to gain more experience and independence. I chose my degree as I wasn't sure what I wanted to do career-wise and so I figured this degree would offer me some flexibility.” “Pursue my career interests and start earning money; meet new friends; expand my thinking in areas I hadn't necessarily explored before, engage with extra-curricular offerings” “I want to find a course I love, make lots of friends and good connections, find career prospects along the way, get good grades....”


‌and are confident they can achieve their goals

* * * * *



There is confusion for some students over their plans post-graduation ▪

50% ▪

“I feel okay about it – not super confident but I think I’ll manage something.” “Haha – I feel 0% of preparedness.”

“I’ve started to put a lot of effort outside my studies into getting prepared, so I think I’ll be okay.”

▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪


“I feel like university and the graduate world are very different.” “I'm better prepared than when I started uni, but not very much. I feel like the whole time I've been learning and I'm still learning now right before graduation so I feel a bit overwhelmed with it all.”

Students are interested in a range of extra-curricular offerings ▪

“I wish I could branch out and do more outside of academia.”


Many students would like to do more outside of their studies, but are often holding themselves back ▪

16% 37%


Students have experienced a range of struggles at Glasgow ▪

“Thee time required for some of my studies seems to be borderline all consuming, making the time to intellectually explore wider subjects I'm interested in non-existent” “Difficult to make friends, having to drop subjects and thus losing people I knew, a lot of independency I didn't expect from a very intense course” “The constant stress of finances really gets me down” “Going between the workload, stressing over increased costs and struggling to get support when I really needed it ”


Half of students are not getting the help they need ▪ ▪ ▪

“By the time that students ask for help they're typically desperate [so a shorter wait time for therapy would be beneficial]”

“It is not enough to provide help when someone is at the point of suicide or dropping out. The university needs to provide help for those who are not 'as bad' as that, since you don't need to be on the brink of absolute catastrophe for your life to fall apart.”

“The mental health services are horrendous, there’s no access, no knowledge they exist, a huge waiting list, just all around a bad job so please: do something here.”

“To be perfectly honest, the mental health services at the uni are terrible. I was on the waiting list for seven months last year, and it would have really helped me to know where else I could have turned to get help.”


Students are vocal about ways they’d like to receive help “The SRC and QMU do great work with one off mental health events, but its no replacement for a consistent weekly therapy appointment.” “Even in terms of finding private counselling, it would have been great to have some sort of recommendation so I didn't feel so completely on my own.” “Making it more apparent what services are available, and how to actually go about getting in touch with them” “I have seen and I'm sure that there is help available at the university but I'm just not 100% sure where to look to find it.” “Bring petting dogs to the campus more often. Get a partnership with the local animal pound or shelter than animals could come to the university to play with students.”


“A well-being check offered midway through each semester would be quite useful.”

“Group discussion groups with a focus on mental health could be invaluable to those who encounter stress, anxiety and depression at university and would allow people to share healthy coping mechanisms and discuss unhealthy ones in a risk-free environment.” “Simply put, get more support staff. Waiting six months total to actually start counselling sessions is ridiculous and strongly impacted on my study.” “Get support workers in from different charities and organisations that specialise in areas the university doesn't e.g. eating disorders, sexual abuse.”

A quarter of students have seriously considered dropping out of university


The Student Bodies 24

Students favour the 4 Student Body system, as they feel it allows them more choice


“Having 4 means they can focus solely on their purpose.”

“There’s so much choice, and there’s bound to be something for everyone.” “It offers more variety and there is more likely to be something for everyone.”

Similar levels of positivity for each Student Body ▪


3 clear reasons for negative perceptions of QMU: “The sexual harassment case and how that was dealt with. No sexual harassment policy in place, don't feel safe in this building.” – QMU member “It has not done much to compete with GUU in terms of events offered. Especially unhappy with food provided in food factory and overall staff friendliness in the building.” – QMU member “The Union is not very nice inside. Bar is sweaty and badly furnished.” – non-QMU member

“Don't find it very inviting and doesn't have that many interesting events on.” – nonQMU member “The quality of food offered in the QMU is also considerably lower than that in the GUU. The building is the most rundown on the whole campus.” – non-QMU member


“Following from this year's public handling of their sexual misconduct policy among committee members they need to regain confidence within the student body by being proactive and explicit.” – previous QMU member “In trying to be super inclusive, the QMU alienates students who aren't interested in becoming wholeheartedly invested in the union.” – non-QMU member “By being 'more inclusive' you're being less inclusive.” – non-QMU member

“Doesn't cater to the student audience despite marketing itself as 'inclusive'.” – QMU member

“Even though I wholeheartedly appreciate how the QMU tries to be more inclusive, it sometimes feel like one will easily offend if they have a slightly different view in some aspects.” – nonQMU member

Little distinction in perceptions of QMU and GUU ▪

Social, music, fun, friendly, events, good, community, food, welcoming, alternative

Social, fun, events, Hive, lads, culture, traditional, bar, drinking, party, debating, posh

- QMU seen as a lot more social, more related to events (specifically music) and having fun

- GUU again seen as more of a social facilitator, though comments about it being ‘old-fashioned’ and having some out-dated values

- Comments made about the current status of QMU; ‘used to be the cool one’ or ‘financially struggling’

- Closely related to alcohol and partying (references to Hive), some perceptions it’s an ‘Old Boys Club’,

- Is perceived as very friendly and inclusive, but not seen to have as big of a presence as GUU

- Seen as fairly well-kept, but also cliquey and not particularly inviting

- Seen as diverse, lots of comments referencing LGTBQ+ and other ‘alternative’ members

- Not the case for everyone, some see it as genuinely fun and cool place to be


Helpful, supportive, friendly, students, approachable, representative, boring

- Generally characteristics listed are positive, it is recognised as ‘being there for students’ though a bit of stigma around being boring and serious, or not engaging with students - It’s seen as academic and formal, not seen in relation to events or ‘fun’ - Activities seen as lobbying for students, being their voice, representing them

Sporty, gym, active, welcoming, clubs, fun, expensive, healthy, fitness

- Closely related to sport which makes some feel it would be unsuitable for them and that they wouldn’t be welcome, seen as intimating and not inclusive by some - Seen as ‘buddy-ish’ and enthusiastic, but also competitive which makes some feel uncomfortable - Some see as only for fit and healthy people and for those who are good in the sport they practice

QMU is seen as more welcoming than GUU ▪




QMU has a more diverse membership base when compared to GUU ▪


Students must be aware of the benefits to joining a Student Body ▪

37% “I’ve heard of the Student Bodies, but I don’t know what they do exactly or how they could benefit me.” – not a member of any Student Body


The Student Bodies going forwards ▪


Queen Margaret Union 33

Room for improvement on QMU’s NPS score ▪


Promoting the benefits of being a QMU member is essential to increasing your NPS score

“When they had events membership was valuable, now I just use it for the occasional drink promo” – QMU member

“I mean it's free so why not, but wouldn't really recommend.” – QMU member

“If someone was to ask me why they should become a member, or why it may be better than other unions I would struggle a bit to come up with an answer.” – QMU member

“Yea, I'd say to join. But then I would also say that if you could only choose 1 choose GUU. Mainly because there are more benefits/events and its more sociable .” – QMU member

“I'd say it doesn't really put itself out there for anything, it just kind of exists in a wee corner.” – QMU member


“Probably not as they have gone downhill over the years and no signs of improvement have been made so far.” – QMU member

“I would recommend signing up because you get a few benefits but I wouldn’t really be able to sell it very well.” – QMU member

“There aren’t any real benefits to being a member. You can go there without being a member for the things you would want” – QMU member

QMU needs to give students a reason to join

“Develop your already strong identity and fill that place with activities. it's a strong brand and a lot of things are just around the corner.” –QMU member

“Do more events and show more of what that union is about, what does it feel like to be a part of it.” –QMU member

“Don't try to be like GUU - your unique ideas sell better.” – QMU member

“Try not to just seem like an old building needing updating with a hard left agenda and make it feel more alive, clean, and refurbished.” –QMU member


“QMU doesn't really advertise the benefits of being a member so until I know what it means to be a member, I don't see any benefit of joining.” – nonQMU member

“Make being a member mean something.” –QMU member

“Create incentives for people to join, or come to the building, because I’m sure it has great potential, just people aren’t sure why they should be interested.” – non-QMU member

“I think QMU should recognise and sell its strengths including fantastic space and history, and it should market itself more, particularly if undertaking new ventures .” – nonQMU member

Students are happy to partake in activities offered by QMU if they’re relevant to their interests


6 in 10 students rarely or never use QMU services ▪ ▪


QMU will need to promote the savings benefits of their services ▪


“I really like the Café and Scran, the staff are lovely – but they’re quite expensive.” “Their food price/quality can definitely improve, so can the atmosphere and environment.”