The reputation index of Tallinn University of Technology continues to rise, in particular, in terms of reliability and popularity among young Estonians.
We monitor our popularity and reputation through the Kantar Emor survey ‘Popularity and reputation of Estonian universities’. The methodology, structure of the questionnaire and size of the sample have remained the same over the years. For years, both the University of Tartu and Tallinn University of Technology have commissioned a detailed overview of the survey, which allows for the identification of long-term trends. The reputation of Tallinn University of Technology in the eyes of the local population has been an important measure over the years and continues to play a key role in the new strategic plan as well. It is the objective of the university to further enhance its good reputation.
The core indicator of reputation in the survey is the TRI*M Index. It is a composite indicator calculated on the basis of five key questions, the value of which may be less than zero or reach 120. In 2016, the reputation index of TalTech was 87, reaching 93 by 2021. The target objective of the strategic plan is to reach level 95 by 2025. Overall, the reputation indices of Estonian universities are at a good or very good level, compared with, for example, the average levels of other Baltic States. This indicates that Estonians value their universities highly and, looking at the developments, increasingly more so.
In addition to the overall perception of reputation, the key questions of TRI*M Index also include a rational assessment of competency and emotional satisfaction. In order for the composite indicator of reputation to increase, all key factors of reputation assessed in the survey – overall reputation, attitudes, reliability, success, quality of education – must remain consistently strong and show improvements.
Throughout the years, TalTech has received the highest scores for reliability, with most potential for development in the attitudes indicator. Interestingly, the assessments of overall reputation and the quality of education have developed hand in hand for years; however, in the last year, overall reputation increased significantly.
Looking at the development of the reputation of the University of Tartu, the overall picture is the same: reliability ranks the highest, while attitudes towards the school are more modest. Overall, the University of Tartu is ahead of TalTech by a few decimal points in different indicators (except attitudes), resulting in a TRI*M Index of more than 100 points. Therefore, in order to enhance our reputation, we need to focus equally on all key factors and manage our reputation consciously. It is essential in order to prevent huge crises that reach the press. After the year-long research project funding crisis, the reputation index of TalTech dropped to 85 in the 2020 survey, but it made a rapid recovery and quickly rose above pre-crisis levels.
What stands out is that young people aged 15–19 give somewhat higher ratings to both the key factors of reputation and additional characteristics. In terms of TalTech, the university’s innovativeness, entrepreneurship, modern learning environment and the practicality of education have received higher ratings compared to others over the years.
TalTech made a giant leap in the eyes of young people in 2019 when all adjectives used to describe the university shifted slightly or significantly in a positive direction. What was the reason behind such a shift? TalTech had recently held its big anniversary celebrations that showcased the university as an innovative and bold trailblazer. Moreover, the TalTech Iseauto was introduced, the university was heavily featured in the press, and the new short name and brand TalTech were implemented. All of these factors could have played a part in creating a positive image in the eyes of young people.
The 2021 survey has brought about some positive breakthroughs. For the first time, we have switched places with the University of Tartu in terms of popularity – TalTech has become the most well-known university in Estonia among non-native Estonian speakers. The difference between our positions cannot yet be considered significant, but the fact that a change in the positions took place is telling.
The second breakthrough is even more important. TalTech had never been first in the ‘unified and comprehensive image’ indicator – but, in 2021, TalTech had the most unified and comprehensive image according to young Estonians (aged 15–19). The difference between TalTech and other universities is striking and beyond the possible margin of error in the survey. For example, in 2017, Estonian Business School had the most comprehensive and distinctive image in the eyes of young Estonians, followed by the University of Tartu, and then, sharing the 3rd and 4th place, the Tallinn University of Technology and the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences. The introduction of the new short name and brand TalTech probably provided a major boost in this regard, also supported by the united messages of the university over the last three admission periods.
In addition to the university reputation survey, there are other sources which we can use to assess our progress. In the follow-up study of our student admission campaign, young Estonians aged 15–40, voluntarily provide a great deal of positive feedback to both our campaign and the overall image of TalTech. In the open-ended questions, they often point out that the campaign and messages of the university paint a picture of a modern and innovative university. Over the past three years, the campaigns of TalTech have most often been characterised as ‘having a clear message’. The following were also often pointed out: ‘distinctive’, ‘memorable’, ‘tells me about important things’.
According to the Kantar Emor survey conducted in Estonia on brand popularity, for the second year in a row, TalTech has established a place for itself among other technology brands – Estonian people often mention us together with Microsoft, Tesla and YouTube. As we all know, technology brands are at the top of the brand rankings worldwide, also indicating the high value of technology brands.
TalTech Gift Shop has been operating for a little over a year now in the main building lobby. If previously internal sales accounted for 80% of products sold, then with the introduction of a cosy shop, the share of internal and external customers has become even. Despite the long pandemic, the shop has, within a year, become a self-sustaining business that also has an online store which already sells products to people all over Estonia, from Saaremaa to Kanepi. Increasing sales and the expanding product range are proof that both the students, employees and alumni are happy to be the brand ambassadors of TalTech. The most popular items are hoodies and T-shirts, but TalTech Publishing publications have also been well-received.
In the new strategic plan, the university has clearly put an emphasis on quality. The university has taken on the role of a leader in engineering and green transition. Our brand also supports the same developments: TalTech is the leader of sustainable digital future in Estonia and the world.