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  • Writer's pictureJohn Watt

Seven reasons to participate in the PIR year-on-year

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

1. You don't know what you don't know

Student trends and opinions are constantly shifting and evolving. PIR surveys can help you keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening within your current cohort.

This knowledge can give you a basis for implementing change. Without a valid and reliable way to examine student opinion and satisfaction, you base decisions on guesswork and anecdotal evidence.

The more you learn about what is taking place at your school, new challenges, and new successes, the more you can work toward positive change.

Without applying the PIR dimensions each year and referencing the results with critical learnings from the previous year, you truly don't know what you don't know.

Surveying students year over year allows for trend data so that you can determine if your programs are working to the benefit of your students and society or not.

Trends can appear quickly (remember how fast the Fridays for Future movement emerged?!), so can your school afford to miss this valuable data?

2. Know if your programs are making a difference

Once you establish a baseline with your first PIR result, you can begin to make decisions on programming to improve in the areas of Energizing, Educating, and Engaging. Those decisions should be evidence-based and proven effective.

Responsible and sincere implementation of those programs is also a huge driver of success. Still, without continued evaluations and student surveys, success can be challenging to track.

With the PIR, you can examine each year of data and evaluate the impact of a program on school culture, curricula, and community.

Knowing what your school should stop, start and continue doing and working with students on the PIR results provides further intelligence on the changes needed.

Successful PIR schools embrace a culture of 'restless excellence' and see learning and improvement as business as usual.

3. Focus your objectives

Some PIR schools are surprised to find that what they thought was the most crucial issue is further down the list of important issues facing students. These results demonstrate the importance of having valid and reliable data.

Students are of various ages, genders, nationalities, and cultures. PIR data shows differences between bachelor and master student needs and even differences from course to course.

KEDGE Business School has embedded the PIR as a monitoring tool for its 2020-2025 Strategic Plan for Sustainability and uses its PIR result as an annual KPI for progress in sustainable development, and for strategic actions to improve.

The PIR allows you to determine your objectives and focus on the most pressing issues for students in your school and the wider community.

4. Anchor a culture of co-creation

A foundation for improvement is actively creating the right environment for change to happen. Annual participation in the PIR can ensure that sustainable leaders - both staff and students - are visible, vocal, and empowered to co-create and implement ideas from inception to transition and beyond.

Leaders play an essential role in generating belief in and commitment to change. They must be seen as credible and authentic champions of a project.

The PIR can show your school as a leader by being bold and brave to listen to and act upon your students' critical voices.

For example, after its PIR results, the IESEG School of Management in France prioritized promoting student engagement. IESEG now provides spaces for students to be part of the sustainability journey of the school.

In addition, the PIR creates leaders. Students in schools such as Esade and Kozminski have used the PIR to drive the change they want to see for the benefit of themselves and their schools.

5. Articulate the values of your institution

Many business schools are delivering a positive impact on the environment and their communities. However, often students and other stakeholders are not aware of these values and actions.

The PIR survey and communications process allow schools to tell your story and showcase the work you do for people and the planet.

Goa Institute of Management (GIM), a PIR Pioneering school, believes that the key to sustainability is education and the impact each individual, group, and organization can have. The PIR contributes to the inspiration and education campaign at GIM, which spans issues from energy and water use to waste reduction, community engagement, and impact assessment.

Taking part in the PIR year-on-year keeps recent strategies, actions, and initiatives fresh in student minds and serves as a powerful communication tool.

6. Engage your community

The PIR provides data that can be used to measure social impact and demonstrates gaps your school can fill, and be a driving force for change in your community.

Your school can use data collected from the PIR in social media outreach, infographics, press releases, and advertising to drive community engagement in the issues and get more people working together for community-wide impact and benefit.

Don't forget that students are a part of the community, and getting them to engage is essential. The PIR has shown how proud students are to have a direct and positive connection to the communities in which their school is based.

A global survey of 9000 student responses (and rising every year) can influence changes beyond your school and be used as a resource for public relations efforts.

7. Never miss the voice of a student cohort

It is crucial to foster trust and momentum, where improvement and changes to ways of working are concerned. Annual participation in the PIR keeps students engaged and gives every cohort the chance to have their voices heard.

You can show an equitable and fair approach and provide new student coordinators of the PIR with the opportunity to gain valuable experience in running a campaign, analyzing data, cooperating with staff for change, and engaging with international peers.

The PIR also offers chances for students to speak at prestigious international events such as the PRME Global Forum.

Students gain multiple benefits, so the PIR can do much more than provide you with a rating if it is in your school's annual student activities and initiatives.

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