Alumni Survey shows Sheffield alumni more engaged than ever

We asked alumni to list the top three words they would use to describe the University of Sheffield.In April and May 2015 the Development, Alumni Relations & Events team conducted a survey with all our emailable alumni to measure how engaged they are with the University and to ask for feedback on our communications, events, volunteering and fundraising.

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to respond.

Our email achieved an open rate of 30% and of those who read the email, 21% attempted the survey. Responses came from a range of graduation years, ages, faculties and countries, with a third of responses coming from alumni who had been postgraduates at the University.

Overall, the results showed that Sheffield alumni are significantly more engaged with the University than when we carried out our last survey in 2008, with 17% of respondents identified as being 'engaged' with the University (an 8% increase on 2008), 84% either 'engaged' or 'somewhat engaged' (an 11% increase on 2008), and 16% 'not engaged' (an 11% decrease on 2008). These results were above average when compared to other higher education institutions who had undertaken the survey.

As expected, UK responses showed London (19%) and Sheffield (12%) as the largest alumni populations, with the Sheffield area showing particularly high engagement. Interestingly, there was also a large response from the Asia region, and North America also showed higher than average engagement.

Since the survey, we have been undertaking analysis of individual areas to inform future activities in the UK and overseas.

The survey indicated that keeping alumni informed is critical to all other programmes, perceptions and participation, and has helped us to ensure our communications are as engaging as possible. We are reviewing the content of our annual alumni magazine and Sheffield Alumni e-newsletter and have already started expanding our social media content in response to the themes identified as being of highest interest to Sheffield alumni, such as alumni profiles, memories and news on campus developments and the city of Sheffield.

We are also reviewing our programme of events for alumni. For example, a recent tour of our new Diamond building, exclusively for alumni, was designed to engage the Sheffield alumni population in campus life. The results also suggested that our current provision of opportunities, which recognises the need for informal events such as pub quizzes and BBQs, caters well for our alumni.

Our volunteering activities are also being informed by the survey. Helping others to develop was the top reason for volunteering, closely followed by professional/personal development. We have therefore increased the volume of feedback we gather from students about the impact of alumni volunteering to share with our alumni as well as expanding our CPD offering in our feedback and volunteer recruitment materials.

We continue to develop our range of programmes and activities for alumni to ensure we are providing enough opportunities for them to remain involved with their University. The alumni survey helps to inform future activities and confirm to us that we are meeting the needs of our diverse alumni community.

To find out more about Sheffield alumni, please visit www.shef.ac.uk/alumni.

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