My Week - September 2014 - student recruitment

Inevitably at this time of the year much of my attention is focused upon understanding precisely where we are in terms of student recruitment for 14 entry.

Martin Holmes
The headlines appear very encouraging. Undergraduate recruitment looks positive for both home and international students and we appear to have balanced the competing demands of volume, quality and diversity of intake well and we believe the outcomes should be positive relative to last year’s performance and close to our Strategic Plan. Whilst it is earlier in the postgraduate recruitment process, indications are that taught masters level recruitment for both home and international students also looks strong and in line with planned expectations.

As I write, however, I am thinking about the Open Day on Saturday – the first in this new academic year – and was reminded that the process of recruiting and inducting students to the University is ongoing and there is barely enough time to draw breath to recognise our achievements before it all starts again!

Our open days exemplify all that is good about the University’s approach to student recruitment, recognising the importance of the emotional connectivity with Leeds and warmth of the University community. This year we will start the process of implementing a new ‘CRM’ system to support our recruitment activity and, whilst technology and systems have a key role to play, our new recruitment and admissions processes need to create additional capacity to ensure that we maximise our human interface with applicants. These are the ‘moments of truth’ when an applicant builds his or her emotional bond with Leeds so we need to find the appropriate balance between effective processes and systems and the need to recognise the importance of the interaction between applicant and academic.

Increasingly our ability to balance process efficiency with humanising the applicant experience is going to be essential to ensure that both applicant and University ‘make the right decisions’. We are rapidly moving towards a position where applicants have access to unlimited data and information upon which to base their decision making (arguably far too much to be helpful). Equally, for institutions such as ours, predicted A level grades are becoming less valuable as a predictor of attainment and quality and we need to think imaginatively about our ability to assess an applicant’s ability to benefit and cope with a Leeds’ education.

Strong sustainable student recruitment is a vital contributor to the life of the University and our ability to enhance the way in which we build a human bond with applicants as we re-engineer our recruitment and admissions process and supporting systems is a challenge that stresses the importance of the blended academic and professional service leadership of the Student Education Service. 

Martin Holmes 

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