Press Release

Helix Education and UPCEA Publish New Research Showing the Extent to Which Data Analytics are Underutilized throughout Higher Education
New Study Reveals Major Opportunity for Data-Driven Decision Making About Program Development, Marketing, Enrollment and Retention Services

Washington DC and Salt Lake City, UT – October 17, 2016 - According to new research published by UPCEA and Helix Education, 83 percent of higher education professionals surveyed have no knowledge of the cost-per-inquiry of their most effective marketing channel for undergraduate inquiry, and more than half made the same indication for graduate inquiry. Additionally, less than half of higher education professionals go through a formalized process when determining which new programs to develop. Leading by Gut or by Data: The Data-Driven State of Higher Ed Decision Making reveals the extent to which institutions apply data across the student lifecycle, where data gaps exist, and how institutions are mitigating barriers to the data-driven mindset.

The research concludes that for a majority of education providers, data science and analytics are being underutilized when making decisions about program development, marketing, enrollment and retention services. Additionally, because data hasn’t been made enough of a priority, there are a significant number of institutional respondents (including those on the front lines of enrollment marketing and operations, retention operations, online program management, program development and data/analytics) who are in the dark when it comes to key metrics. A snapshot of  additional findings reveals:

  • Sixty-eight percent of respondents don’t know their estimated overall conversion rate from inquiry to enrollment.
  • Only 38 percent of respondents reported close integration between marketing, enrollment management, and advising teams.
  • Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents stated that they either partner completely with outside vendors or blend their operations between in-house methods and outsourcing partnerships for their enrollment marketing.

Also of note is the trend toward outsourcing in higher education. To help mitigate the challenges inherent in adopting a data-driven mindset, many higher education institutions are turning to outsourced partners to help them track key performance indicators and implement an integrated system for sharing information.

The goal of this research study, which surveyed 480 higher ed professionals, was to identify how the data-driven mindset is permeating the cultures and being adopted into the practices of college and universities. “While the calls to adopt a data-driven mindset have been gaining momentum, higher education institutions seem to still be falling behind in terms of implementing data analytics into their decision making processes, ” said Danielle Caldwell, Content Marketing Manager at Helix and co-author of the report.  “The good news is that institutions surveyed have interest in tracking additional data and see the value in using that data to inform decisions. The field is moving in the right direction.”

Jim Fong, Founding Director of UPCEA’s Center for Research and Marketing Strategy and co-author of the report, adds, “By working toward the practical implementation of data, colleges and universities will find themselves in a position to create better programs, plug revenue holes, reduce student attrition throughout the student lifecycle, and even increase capacity.”

The full report is available for free, and can be downloaded here.

About Helix Education

Helix Education provides colleges and universities a comprehensive suite of technology and services to power data-driven enrollment growth 8x faster than the industry average. The company’s three solutions — Outsourced Program Management, Enrollment Marketing and Retention Services —  have successfully helped institutions find, enroll, retain, teach and graduate post-traditional learners for more than 30 years. Its enrollment growth solutions are powered by a proprietary technology ecosystem that aggregates data across the student lifecycle to better understand an institution’s best-fit students’ journey, and implements actionable intelligence to improve outcomes for students and institutions alike. For more information, visit


UPCEA is the leading association for professional, continuing, and online education. Founded in 1915, UPCEA now serves most of the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America. For more than 100 years, the association has served its members through its Center for Research and Marketing Strategy, Center for Online Leadership, innovative conferences, and specialty seminars. The Center for Research and Marketing Strategy is the benchmarking, research and consulting arm of the association, formed to meet the research needs of its members. For more information, visit

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