Partner perspective: With Kylie Evans, Head of Admissions Operations at Aberystwyth University
We’ve worked in partnership with Aberystwyth since August 2021, and in those two years, we’ve seen some strong results together. Given the initial success of the partnership, we soon broadened the scope of our support significantly.
Our early focus was a short-term goal: to help Aberystwyth engage prospective students (at all study levels) from domestic and international markets and convert them into enrolments for that September’s intake. Since then, our work together has flourished, and most recently has seen us providing support with applicant decision and offer making.
We caught up with Kylie Evans, Head of Admissions Operations at Aberystwyth, to reflect on some of the highlights from our partnership so far.
Kylie, what led you to start working with UniQuest?
Contending with the fluctuations of the recruitment cycle, the need to adapt and implement changes that would enhance our enrolment numbers, and all the while managing our finite resources as efficiently as possible, it became apparent that we needed to seek external support.
Day-to-day, our work includes application processing, responding to applicant enquiries and delivering proactive communications at important points in the recruitment journey. As a result, it’s an incredibly broad scope of work to stay on top of with an internal team of just 10, so it’s all hands-on deck throughout the year. Whilst this isn’t a unique challenge across the sector, it’s clear that there’s always a ceiling on what’s achievable in-house.
This was felt particularly keenly during the summer months of 2021, when we needed additional capacity to engage with applicants to try and successfully convert them for the September intake. This is a really key time in the recruitment cycle, and we wanted to make sure we capitalised on the hard work our team had put in throughout the year.
The initial aim was clear - to boost applicant conversion rates for 2021’s September intake across domestic and international markets at both UG and PG degree levels. And I’m pleased to report we did just that!
Can you tell us how the relationship progressed?
Seeing the impact that UniQuest had on this September ’21 intake, in such a short period of time, we considered where we needed support in the admissions process on a longer-term basis. It was evident that this needed to focus specifically on international applicants. As we slowly began to emerge from the pandemic in 2022, demand for places was extremely high. We were facing the challenge of a surge in applications, the immediate requirement to ramp up resource, and the need to be as responsive as possible to applicants and agents to be on track for strong numbers for September 2022.
Together, we defined a scope that met the needs of our international undergraduate and postgraduate taught applicants, with UniQuest supporting and engaging these students throughout their journey to enrolment. This included both responsive and proactive communications, delivered across a range of channels, including email, live chat and phone calls. Operating with much broader bandwidth, our joint efforts laid the foundations for Aberystwyth winning the ‘Best WeChat Experience’ of over 100 universities worldwide in the 2022 Enquiry Experience Tracker Awards, something which really underlines how well we’ve integrated with UniQuest.
With UniQuest on hand to reduce the workload of our already stretched admissions team, we once again saw a positive impact on our international intake for September 2022. Trying to find that balance between boosting our intake numbers, whilst ensuring that we get the right-fit students for us, presented a big challenge for us to get right. As a result, our third phase of work with UniQuest focused on applicant decision and offer making. UniQuest is now helping us process international undergraduate and postgraduate applications based on our entry requirements and criteria, enabling us to focus on what matters most at specific times in the recruitment cycle.
Since going live with this strand of work in late 2022, we’ve reviewed almost 11,000 applications and issued over 5,000 offers. As a result, we’re hopeful that our upcoming September intake will be more fruitful than ever before. We’ve had really positive feedback internally on the quality of our applicants. An academic leading our MBA programme had this to say:
"Just a quick note to say thank you to you and your team for the excellent work done on recruiting to the Jan start MBA programme. It is very much appreciated. We have some really good students in this intake so not only has quantity gone up but the quality of student looks so much better compared to last year.”
MBA Programme Leader at Aberystwyth University
What do you really value about the partnership?
Perhaps most valuable is UniQuest’s flexibility. We’re operating in an industry where your focuses might need to switch in an instant. There’s a genuine can-do attitude and UniQuest’s willingness to quickly shift gears is incredibly refreshing and exciting for the potential of our future work together!
We’re constantly up to date on their progress and operations through regular communications on Teams, so they never feel far away or hard to reach. We know they’ll be quick to respond to any of our queries and we can rely on them to progress any requests rapidly.
Also, given how the relationship has evolved and how the team’s knowledge has grown and expanded, we have been able to scale up or down as required, and really target areas where the biggest impact would be felt. Having an ‘outsider’s’ perspective on-hand to provide advice on our operations has been genuinely valuable for reassessing how we conduct our own work.
What would you say to anyone in your position at another university who may have reservations about outsourcing their admissions?
Just have the conversation. Resource is tight and the pressures on universities to recruit suitably qualified students has never been greater. So, even if it’s a one-off project, or something more long term, engaging in a discussion with an organisation that has knowledge and experience in the sector and admissions operations, and which is aware of the challenges involved, is always valuable.
Contact us to find out how UniQuest can help your university to improve student engagement, conversion, and application processing.