As a governor, you want to feel confident in the decisions you make. Many of your board decisions will be informed by student recruitment trends and predictions; after all, there's a good chance your institution's financial health is heavily dependent on student fee income.
Given this, as the UCAS deadline of January 15th passes, it’s likely that you’ll be taking some time to assess the current recruitment position.
Your starting point is the internal application data of course; for example, 2020 cycle trends vs previous years, actual applications vs planned by subject, the team’s predictions and projections. You’ll probably also be interested to view the data published by UCAS on the 6th February which will give a sector-wide view of application trends by age, country and subject.
So, you’ll have the data. But is this enough? Are you confident that you have the full picture? Do you have the assurance you need in order to confidently make your decisions? If not, then try asking these three questions to give you further insight and understanding:
What makes us so special? It might not be possible to be completely different to our competition, but how are we distinctive? And where's the evidence that our audiences believe - and value - this distinctiveness? There should be clear metrics in place to measure performance; after all, it’s critical to know what success looks like.
Where are we most vulnerable? Even if the data looks great, what’s going to limit our success next year – and the 5 years after that? Which of the three key phases of the applicant funnel – awareness, interest or conversion – is the biggest challenge, and why? What do we need to do about it? After all, to succeed in a competitive market, you need to be winning at every stage.
Where should we be doubling our efforts? Any successful marketing plan will have a range of different tools available to the team; the art of marketing is often in mixing those tools together at the right time in the right way. However, this question identifies the one activity that is currently delivering the best results and allows clarity on where resource should be focused. This is especially useful if resource is limited, or if urgent adjustments are needed; it signals what is really working.
If you’d some support in digging deeper into your marketing and recruitment data or insights, we’d be happy to arrange a call to discuss. Get in touch here.
Rachel Killian is a Senior Consultant for Halpin, the home of experts in higher education governance, marketing, fundraising and strategy.