Admissions enquiry management in partnership with Teesside University: a quality-focused enrolment success story
Our partnership with Teesside University began back in 2014, working with Teesside’s international development team to streamline and increase conversion and enrolment activity.
Over the past ten years, the partnership has seen benchmark-busting success, leading to growth in the scope and importance of the work we do together. Our latest strand of collaboration is with Teesside’s International Admissions & Compliance team, working closely with the university’s International Admissions & Compliance Manager, Thomas Snell, to implement a service which supports his team with inbound international admissions activity, encompassing all courses and study levels.
We handle four enquiry channels – emails, calls, live chat and the University’s internal enquiry management system. By applying UniQuest’s expertise and scalable resource at crucial points in the admissions process, Teesside’s admissions team have been able to focus their efforts where it is most needed, relieving pressure for team members and applicants alike, and increasing quality, right-fit enrolments.
Responding to needs and driving workable solutions
As we mentioned in our last chat with Teesside, the last three years have witnessed a period of exceptional growth in its international recruitment volumes.
A common challenge across the sector, the sharp growth in the volume of international applications, particularly since 2021, coupled with Teesside’s strong historic levels of international recruitment, meant this institution felt this unprecedented growth more acutely than most of its counterparts.
Having regular discussions with the Teesside team as part of our other strands of work together, we began to explore ways in which we could help them effectively manage the workload on their admissions team.
In October 2022 Teesside formally became one of the first partners to begin using our (then) yet-to-be-launched applicant support service – seeing us handle applicant enquiries, including outbound, proactive campaigns and reactive responses to those queries.
Efficient enquiry management
This work has had a great impact in a short timeframe: in the nine months since we began this phase of work, our total contact volumes with prospective students have surpassed 30,000.
Our busiest period was undoubtedly leading up to the January 2023 intake. December 2022 has been our highest volume month so far with over 5,000 conversations managed. This is all being done as efficiently as possible too: we’re currently maintaining a 24-hour response time (instant for live chat and calls).
By responding quickly and attentively to these queries, we’re contributing to lower overall volumes of enquiries. We know from across our partner network that students typically chase within 24-48 hours of initial contact, so a quick and informed response is critical in lowering overall enquiry volume.
Students naturally look towards Teesside throughout their application cycle for reassurance and information. Over the last six months, 21% of all conversations with applicants have centred around application status and next steps. Teesside's applicants are not alone in this trend, with application status checks being the most frequently asked applicant questions across the partner group.
Proactive communications are just as important though. For instance, Nigeria is a huge market for Teesside and we have been sending students market updates, including the dependents announcement by the UK home office, and more recently communications about the Naira currency and what Nigerian students should do to pay their deposits.
In the age of AI and chatbots, we understand that human intervention really counts at the application stage. Providing students with an accurate response to an enquiry, as an extension of the university’s admissions team, is something we’ve worked on with Teesside to streamline and improve the overall applicant experience.
By doing this, we’re reducing the workload on Teesside’s admissions team and helping them to reach their overarching goal of true diversification of the student body, as set out in the Teesside 2027 vision.
Constant and efficient modes of operating have allowed our partnership to truly blossom and this quote from Thomas Snell, International Admissions & Compliance Manager at Teesside University, highlights the success we’ve shared:
“It has been fantastic working with the UniQuest team and their support has made a significant, positive difference to our admissions. UniQuest staff work seamlessly with our university to handle enquiries, which frees up valuable time for our admissions staff to focus on quality offer making.”
Thomas Snell, International Admissions & Compliance Manager, Teesside University
In spite of our almost-decade-long partnership, we remained as diligent as with any new project before commencing this next phase of work. The approach we take with all of our partners is to take the time to explore exactly what they want and how it’s going to happen.
Unlike many in the sector, Teesside was content with the volume of its student intake; rather its priority was to improve the overall quality of its applicants.
By managing applicant enquiries, we gave Teesside’s admissions team further bandwidth to effectively process their growing pool of applicants from an increasingly diverse range of countries, with the accompanying time needed to review these varying types of qualification and expertise.
An integral part of this enquiry management, and something Teesside finds invaluable, is the ability of our operating system to consolidate multiple enquiries from an individual applicant into a single ‘ticket’, irrespective of what channel the enquiry came through. This provides Teesside with advanced functionality for managing enquiry pipelines which would be difficult and incredibly time-consuming for the admissions team to do otherwise.
Thomas draws out the importance of this work:
“This has been a massive growth in efficiency for Teesside. Previously, a student might submit an enquiry through three channels and it would come through three separate times. This would exacerbate the workload of the admissions team and meant that they would have to reply individually to each enquiry or happen to find out they all belonged to one applicant.”
As a result of this increased bandwidth, 2022 saw Teesside increase their enrolment rates even further, surpassing the average enrolment rate across the UniQuest partner group.
As part of our tailored approach to improving efficiency for Teesside, we began hosting Q&A webinars on behalf of the university. Teesside is one of the best performing universities for webinar attendance from across our partner network. Over 2022, we hosted 32 webinars for Teesside with 5,760 international and EU attendees, generating nearly 3,000 questions – simplifying the end-to-end query process for Teesside and the applicant.
A human touch
When we asked Thomas about his greatest takeaway from our partnership, he said:
“The way that people on the UniQuest side took their time to really understand our processes, how we work and what we want to do. Their flexibility and willingness to accommodate our requests is by far my greatest takeaway. UniQuest’s personality and expertise is what keeps this working.”
Ultimately, the human side is what makes the whole operation tick. Our partnership with Teesside is constantly evolving and challenging its processes to seek greater efficiencies and outcomes. But it’s by no means a finished project. For UniQuest, succeeding in higher education requires a blend of adaptability, agility, surpassing targets, and ultimately, working in close collaboration with our university partners to ensure we are developing and delivering exactly what’s needed to meet our shared objectives.
Contact us to find out how UniQuest can help you with applicant to enrolment support.