QAHE admissions: from overstretched to outperforming in one year
QA Higher Education has always been quick on the uptake when it comes to prioritising student experience. The HE provider was one of the early adopters of UniQuest’s admissions service in 2021, and we’ve been supporting their team with international applications ever since. They were also the first UniQuest admissions partner to tap into our global admissions team, utilising the expertise in our global hubs to provide additional in-country support to applicants.
Having worked with us since 2020 to boost pre-applicant engagement and conversion, QAHE knew they could turn to us for help when, like so many other HE providers, they were facing a huge surge in the volume of international applications.
What followed is a truly brilliant example of what a great partnership should look like. After an initial two-month pilot in 2021 focusing on responding to applicant enquiries, QAHE quickly felt the impact of what we can offer and expanded the scope of our partnership to sweep up offer-making and additional markets — and we’ve never looked back!
The initial pilot
Since 2021, QAHE has experienced a sharp rise in the number of applications from international students — particularly from South Asian and African markets. Naturally, this goes hand-in-hand with a rise in the volume of applicant enquiries, meaning QAHE’s admissions team was feeling the strain.
In December of that year, we launched a two-month pilot with QAHE, focusing specifically on managing inbound, postgraduate applicant enquiries from South Asia for two of QAHE’s biggest university partners.
This saw us responding to thousands of emails and phone calls from applicants, making sure queries didn’t go unanswered and that the experience of prospective students wasn’t compromised at such an integral stage in their journey towards international study.
To us, the gold standard of ‘responsiveness’ means responding to emails within 48 hours and to phone calls the same day, and that’s exactly what we did. In this two-month period alone, we processed over 7,000 phone calls — an insight into just what QAHE had been tackling alone!
“UniQuest’s ability to launch admissions support and unlock enrolments at pace was impressive. Our teams felt instant impact”.
Nick Miller, Chief Commercial Officer, QAHE
Increasing the scope: offer-making begins
Following the success of the initial pilot, our partnership expanded in scope — not only to continue applicant enquiry management on an ongoing basis, but to also now include admissions decision-making. Again, this focused on South Asian postgraduate applications for the first phase, and saw us reviewing applications and making offers — speedily and diligently.
The detailed review process includes verifying English language results (across a range of different test providers, and often against specific faculty or institutional requirements); checking UKVI exemptions; verifying country/non-country specific academic qualifications (including confirming that the qualification provider is recognised by ECCTIS); and assessing eligibility for institutional scholarships.
To deliver this, we had to scale up our supporting admissions team, bringing on board experts from within our new regional hubs in Bangalore and Manila — who were up and running, making rapid and accurate admissions decisions within a week of completing our internal training.
Not only does this provide QAHE with greater resource at its disposal that can be managed flexibly according to peaks and troughs, it also provides in-country expertise that can help to nurture better relationships with applicants.
Hitting the 50,000 applications-reviewed milestone was a huge one, and is representative of hundreds of hours saved for the QAHE admissions team, which is now able to focus its efforts elsewhere.
We’re always ambitious with our partnerships, and together with QAHE we’ve achieved some impressive results since going live with admissions support.
Most impressive, perhaps, is the fact that we’ve consistently outperformed our initial targets. We’d processed South Asian applications for the September 2023 intake by the end of April, way ahead of expectations! This has enabled us to once again expand our focus and sweep up additional markets to manage simultaneously, with QAHE recently asking us to support Nigerian applications as well as South Asian. We hit the ground running here too — we’d already processed over 1,500 applications within six weeks of picking up the Nigerian market.
Delivering these results at scale has been possible due to the cumulative effort at individual level: every member of our admissions staff surpassed the original target of processing 27 applications each per day — enabling us to process 100 more applications each week for QAHE than the original target.
And when it comes to turnaround times, we know that the application journey isn’t just an administrative process for students; it’s an emotional one, and as such they don’t want to be left waiting. We’ve heard countless reports from elsewhere in the sector of applicants chasing up to check in on the status of their applications. QAHE were determined this wouldn’t be their students’ experience, and our expert team consistently achieves a five-day average processing turnaround time from the point any application is allocated to us.
Now fully embedded into QAHE’s admissions operations, together we can further refine key service levels. This includes how we can help QAHE find the right-quality applicants more efficiently by deploying our new intelligent admissions tool, Smart Select. This innovative pre-offer screening technology automates decision steps, filters out poor-fit applications and enables greater focus on those with a higher propensity to progress to enrolment.
We’re confident and excited to further expedite the applicant review process for QAHE — satisfying student and partner needs alike!
Contact us to find out how UniQuest can help your university to improve student engagement, conversion, and application processing.