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Relieving the applicant bottlenecks: enhanced offer-making, reduced turnaround times

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If we compare any given UK university’s best practice applicant turnaround time with what that’s looked like in reality over the past few months, there might be a fairly sizeable gap between the two.

This is entirely understandable given the sheer volume of applications we’ve witnessed for 2023 intakes. There’s been a huge increase in international applicants in particular, with data from across our partner network showing that there are roughly two times as many offers in the pipeline than this time last year.

Exacerbating this pressure further is the fact that many universities were already facing an existing backlog from the September 2022 intake, with big groups of applicants that didn’t get reviewed in time now being considered for 2023.

And, with no signs of interest in UK study waning, the cycle is likely to repeat itself. We’ve already been seeing applications come in for September 2023 while most universities have still been chipping away at the January cohort – many of which will inevitably end up being part of the September intake.

It’s an impossible pressure for admissions teams who simply don’t have the resources to process such volumes effectively. And for applicants, who naturally want decisions about their future to be made quickly, it doesn’t lead to a great experience. Enquiries are coming in thick and fast from applicants chasing up the status of their application, in turn creating more ‘noise’ for admissions teams to respond to.

Delays in offer-making can also compromise relationships with agents, who may be less inclined to advocate for a particular university if they’re aware that previous applicants have been left in limbo.

To help address these challenges around scale and pace of admissions, we recently launched a new service that we’re already deploying for a number of our partners across international and home applicants (at all study levels). In addition to providing applicant support to manage inbound enquiries, we can increase the decision-making capacity of universities to meet the current level of demand.

How exactly does this work? We review and issue offers based on criteria and training supplied by our partners, allowing us to act as an extension of their admissions team and process offers in-cycle – ultimately helping to improve turnaround times. For one our partners, we reduced application-to-offer time from an average of 23 days to 7!

Where interviews are required as part of the admissions process, we can introduce efficiencies to make this slicker and quicker. For example, we can work with international offer holders to pre-record credibility interviews, helping to streamline CAS issuance. And where interviews need to take place between academics and applicants, our interview scheduling tool can significantly reduce the administrative burden around this.

So far, our team of dedicated admissions support staff (50-strong and growing) has processed over 75,000 applications for our partners, freeing them up to focus on specific priority areas. Here’s what one of our existing admissions partners said:

“Like many other universities, we were facing significant delays and backlogs in our admissions turnaround times. Working with UniQuest, we expanded our services to better support our applicants, students, staff and university partners.

“We’re now well-placed to manage the peaks and troughs of our work, and able to focus our resources on ‘quality’ service delivery and ongoing improvement.”

We all want the UK to remain a high-demand study destination, but we must ensure that the resources are in place to manage that demand effectively – otherwise applicants may well just turn elsewhere.

More details on our admissions service can be found here, and you can get in touch with us here if you’d like to chat about how we can support you.