Course Portfolio Analysis and Strategy

There are two critical variables that explain the success of a university in student markets - one is reputation, the second is having an appealing suite of courses. 

The Knowledge Partnership is the only agency to specialise in the field of course analysis and development and we have designed processes and built unique data sets to support this service.

The key questions answered

We typically work with a dean or the deputy vice chancellor (academic) to deliver a thorough analysis of the portfolio and the market to address these typical questions:

  • How does the performance of our existing courses benchmark against the sector, our peers and competitors?
  • Do we have the optimal model of programme design - efficient, distinctive and appealing?
  • Do we have the right number and balance of courses/awards given our subject footprint?
  • How well are our courses marketed? Do we have strong and appropriate propositions given how students in each subject field make their choices?
  • Are there courses we should retire and if so are there new courses we could design to replace them that would have greater appeal?
  • Which new subject fields are relevant to our institution given our ethos, brand, location and existing capacity?  

Independent, inclusive and evidence based

This approach helps to pave the way for change, whether this means explaining the rationale for retiring courses or supporting the case for investment in new or adapted programmes.

  • We interview those responsible for managing suites of courses such as deans, heads of school or subject, making the project visible on campus and ensuring we capture valuable insights, ideas and context.
  • Using both judgement based on experience, but mainly quantitative evidence, we evaluate existing programme performance and identify opportunity gaps.
  • We deliver executive reports supported by personalised debriefing sessions that summarise the evidence and make both strategic and very specific recommendations. However, we share the detail of our analysis in technical reports or subject-based reports depending on client preference.
  • We maintain confidentiality - unlike most consultants we do not publicise who our consulting clients are. 

Three key ingredients


We have created a range of tools and methods derived from both published literature and sector specific research.

This ensures a consistent approach and assures quality.

Out go the generic theoretic models designed for consumer product markets that do not work in the higher education sector, in come tools that work for our sector.

We have 5 approaches to locating new course concepts specific to each client.


We have been undertaking portfolio reviews since 2007.

Our clients take our advice and achieve market success, often attracting more students to fewer courses.

As the consultancy behind the HEFCE i-MAP project in 2011, we analysed thousands of courses over many years and distilled from this the factors that shape success.

Many of our commissions for faculty reviews come from referrals from other deans in the same university.


We have built a unique range of data sets to power our analyses.

A comprehensive annually updated database of all university courses across all modes.

Student choice factors by subject and HEI type.

A comprehensive annually updated database of enrolments and student profiles at course level.

BTEC, GCSE and A-level student pipeline trend data.

Graduate employability data including insights from employers (AGR alliance).

International student subject preferences.

Please call David Roberts on +44 113 2430597 or email if you have any course portfolio analysis and strategy enquiries.

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What do you want to do?


Viability Reports

These reports provide market intelligence and benchmarking information at individual HE course level.


audits and consultancy

Reputational audits and communications consultancy support university vision, stakeholder communications, and reputation management.


and Business Engagement

We work with universities and sector bodies to develop business engagement and employability strategies which recognise the vital role they play in course development and student marketing.



Our experienced interim directors are available for senior marketing and communications roles.