Simplifying enrolment at Edinburgh College

Alan Meechan, Development Manager at Edinburgh College, explains how they are responding to students’ needs with Collab Group’s official Further Education Technology partner, Capita UNIT-e.

The enrolment process for any college is a pressure point. If managed well, the right students get on the right courses, that are well-suited to their abilities. If things go wrong, however, a potential student’s first experience of your college could be a negative one.

If bottlenecks in communication start to happen, errors can be made in predicting course numbers, time is lost, and it could even lead to a potential student considering an alternative option for their studies. We are keenly aware of how important this time of year is to the success of our college and have made a concerted effort in recent months to improve the process for both students and college staff.

One too many systems

We welcome more than 26,000 students each year, with 96% of successful full-time graduates moving on to work or further study within eight months.

Up until recently, we had been managing the application and enrolment process through two separate systems, which was a challenge. This resulted in the duplication of data and mismatches could appear if changes to a student record were not reflected across both systems. Staff had manual work arounds to meet students’ ever-changing requirements and the need to re-key information added to the risk of error.

It took time to make key changes too, such as adjustments to an application form or a change to the course handling process, as these had to be made by an external party. This could cause delays. Having a separate system for online applications meant that information couldn’t be shared easily between key staff within the college. And to keep up with student expectations, we wanted a much slicker experience applying for courses online.

Improving the student experience

Working closely with Capita, our college’s IT development team moved to the UNIT-e online application system for the 2019/20 admissions cycle.

The new system links directly with our student record system, eliminating the need to manually move data and enabling staff to share information instantly and securely across our four campuses. Now when a student visits the website, they have access to the latest information and can find and apply for courses quickly and easily via their PC, phone or other mobile device.

From the application team’s point of view, all course and application information is in one place so staff can process applications more quickly and offer students a place sooner.

Seamless applications and enrolments

The new system has also enabled staff to access the information they need to monitor and manage online applications. Being able to track applicants from their first interaction on social media or Google, right through to their submission, provides us with valuable information about student behaviour, the activity that works and what doesn’t.

It also means that operational staff no longer have to go looking for the information they need to do their jobs effectively. It’s all available from a single dashboard. Those responsible for enrolments can quickly see how many applications have come in, which need to be processed and how many students have been offered a place.

Meeting students’ needs

Another advantage is that the new online application system is easily accessible to external stakeholders such as schools, which Edinburgh College has close relationships with.

School staff have a separate login so they can help students applying for a college course online by attaching critical information to their application, such as details of any special educational needs. This information is then flagged and made instantly available to our student services team, who can ensure the necessary support is put in place as early as possible.

Early indications suggest we have an uplift in student numbers for the 2019/20 admissions cycle. Plus, we are saving time, improving our knowledge during the application process and giving students a good experience of our college, from the first moment they make contact.

To find out more about how the college is using Capita UNIT-e, read the full case study.

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