In February all members of SLU3A were invited to participate in a survey. The primary purpose of that survey was help your committee to address the problem that SLU3A new enrolments are declining. The response was excellent; about 60% of members filled out the survey.
The committee wants to share the data with all members.
The survey identified that our local audience is quite different to either Sydney or Newcastle: it is older, less ethnically diverse, more likely to come from a blue collar background, and less likely to have had any tertiary education than in either city. In SLU3A males represent just over a quarter of all enrolments, so there is a significant growth opportunity if SLU3A can attract more men.
A key finding was that in SLU3A nearly 60% of current members have gone on to tertiary education, compared to only 23% of the population in our catchment area. This posed three difficult questions for the committee:
- Is SLU3A drawing most of its membership from less than one quarter of the over 55 population in our area?
- Do terms like university, education and learning actively discourage engagement with our population?
- Does SLU3A want to broaden its appeal and, if so, what messages must it send?
Your feedback on SLU3A activities shows that:
- Health and exercise is the most important subject area for you.
- The limitations on numbers for Arts & crafts is critical for women.
- Men want courses in engineering, workshop and handyman activities.
- There is interest in courses on wellbeing and aging, but the current ones are not resonating.
- Both genders want more technology education.
- Social and discussion groups do not rate highly for men, but are a key focus area for women.
- Both genders want more academic courses on history, plus courses in cooking.
To arrest our declining enrolments your committee has decided to focus on five critical action areas:
- Creating a messaging structure that more effectively addresses a population with no experience of further education
- Delivering that messaging through local word-of-mouth as well as taking a leadership role in a regional engagement with 2NUR FM and Facebook as key communication channels
- Creating and implementing a specific strategy to increase the male participation rate, especially through providing more courses in engineering, workshop and handyman activities
- Increasing the availability of women’s health and exercise courses
- Selecting specific focus areas for new courses and driving targeted recruitment of appropriate leaders
You can access the full report here: 2019 Southlakes U3A membership profile.
Questions or comments can be shared with any committee member or with me directly.