Scaling up admissions services to balance the rapid increase in demand against strategic targets and securing high-quality, right-fit enrolment has been a monumental challenge for the HE sector in recent years.
To tackle this, we launched our admissions service in late 2021 - met with great appetite from our partner network, with it fast becoming a core part of the support we provide.
Not only did we deliver and scale the initial service incredibly quickly to meet pressing challenges at that time, we’ve continued to develop it to anticipate the evolving needs of our partners - ensuring they’re able to recruit sustainably and remain competitive.
We now have a best-in-class ecosystem of intelligent tools that can support every aspect of the end-to-end admissions journey: from responding to applicant queries, ensuring applications are ready for review, making offers, automating aspects of the decision-making process, right up to identifying the applicants most likely to enrol.
The impact? A reduction in turnaround times, something that most universities have experienced as a major pain point in recent years. Applicants do not want to be left waiting! Whether it’s getting a response to a query or receiving a decision on their application, speed is the name of the game.
And when competition is ramping up between UK universities and their international English-speaking counterparts, it’s more important than ever that admissions teams provide a top-class applicant experience during the admissions journey.
We’ve designed our admissions support tools with user experience firmly in mind too. Our suite of tools integrates with existing in-house systems and resources, enhancing and streamlining the invaluable human activity that is happening here, and freeing up in-house expertise – to be applied where it matters most.
Our services are flexible and can be scaled up and down according to seasonal peaks and troughs, and tools can be adopted as standalone ‘plug-ins’ or supplement our conversion services, to provide maximum efficiency across the whole enquiry to enrolment journey.
What’s more, these services are now confidently delivered on a ‘follow the sun’ model, with our admissions support hubs in the UK, the Philippines and India covering a range of time zones.
Responding to enquiries
A key issue which has blighted universities is the sheer ‘noise’ generated by the volume of enquiries they’re receiving. We know that dealing with this often comes at the expense of other strands of work.
We can turn that noise down, managing incoming enquiries across all study levels and domiciles, delivering quality, personalised and effective communication that addresses everything an applicant has asked.
Why does this matter? Well, we know from our recent Enquiry Experience Tracker (conducted in partnership with Edified) that a huge 93% of our mystery shoppers said a bad enquiry experience would mean they never engage further with that institution.
To help our partners avoid this scenario, we provide quick and informed responses across all channels, whether that be email, phone, live chat, or a combination – wherever the applicant prefers to be.
We can also keep track of who’s enquiring where, with our CRM system able to consolidate repeat, multi-channel enquiries from the same applicant into one ‘ticket’, ensuring that effort isn’t duplicated.
All of this allows admissions teams to focus their efforts elsewhere. As an indicator of just how much incoming volume there is for admissions teams to cope with, in a two-month period alone we processed over 7000 calls for one of our partners – and that was just from one specific group of applicants!
We hold ourselves to high standards when it comes to response times, with average email responses within 48 hours and phone calls returned on the same day.
Supporting your offer-making
Our aim is the same as yours: to proactively keep applicants moving through the entire journey to enrolment, including the key stages of offer-making.
As such, our suite of admissions services includes making sure applications are actually ready for review by establishing whether outstanding information is required (and chasing it up… a time consuming but essential part of the process!). Our partnership with Saint Martin’s, the first US partner to use our admissions service, is a brilliant example of how we add value here.
We can also increase the decision-making capacity of universities to help process applications in-cycle and improve turnaround times, delivered by our dedicated, expert admissions teams in the UK and globally. Trained to our world-class standards, they provide local knowledge and help extend operational hours for our partners.
Essentially, our admissions teams act as an extension of our partners’ in-house teams, reviewing and issuing offers based on criteria supplied by them. For one partner, we reduced application-to-offer time from an average of 23 days to within five!
We’ve now developed this even further by launching our Smart Select tool, an automated decision-making platform for admissions processing. The first solution of its kind to launch in the market, Smart Select transforms admissions processing for universities by enabling them to quickly prioritise the right quality applicants amid overwhelmingly high volumes.
We know universities are under huge pressure to recruit the ‘right’ student, but they can be difficult to identify in a funnel that’s full to the brim. So by introducing automation, and filtering out those who do not meet criteria set by the university, we’re allowing admissions teams to focus their efforts on converting those quality applicants.
Where we’re already deploying the Smart Select tool with existing partners, it’s having a huge impact: leading to a 50% reduction in manual intervention and accelerating the average offer turnaround time to just five days.
And it doesn’t stop there. If partners want to hone their focus further on the ‘right’ applicants, they can use all of the above alongside our propensity modelling service.
Based on a decade of data from across our partner network, we can predict exactly which students are most likely to go on to enrol, and provide universities with a better understanding of what their pipelines realistically look like.
We’re not resting on our laurels; we’ve got plans to develop our admissions service further in the near future and ensure we stay one step ahead, so watch this space. We’re also always willing to work on bespoke solutions that address the issues individual universities are facing, so please get in touch if you think we can help!