This time of year it’s exam results, clearing and student recruitment that’s on my mind. My role is leading, on behalf of the Senior Management Team, the University’s student recruitment process, working with all relevant academic and Professional Services staff to ensure we meet targets set, quite a task! For those outside of the UK higher education system, this is about the exam results that (largely) 18/19 years old get and how they are matched up with a University place.
As often happens when it’s this time of year, I reflect back on waiting for my own A level results and trying to find out whether I had been accepted into University. I recall that I was in Greece at the time and it wasn’t possible to find out my results from Corfu (oh how times have changed!) so I had to travel by bus to the main post office in Athens to phone home. Happily, Warwick University had accepted me and so began my life in higher education.
Fast forward from August 1977 to August 2018…. and I’m in Swansea University. Happily it has been a highly successful year for the University; our recent rankings, UK top 5 for overall student satisfaction, top 10 for graduate prospects, Gold TEF award, UK REF Top 30 and highest ever ranking in the Guardian University Guide, are certainly proving their worth with students confirming acceptance of our offer or record numbers applying through the Clearing process.
Clearing is challenging for all universities, but I have to say that my colleague’s right across the University have really pulled out all the stops and have been amazing! It never ceases to amaze me that, for an institution that delivers teaching, research and works with businesses, we cleverly produce a huge ‘call centre’ for results day and the days following to deal with all of the queries and calls. I spend much of these days in our call centre or walking around some of the Colleges (great for my Fitbit steps) to get updates and to be as encouraging as possible. It’s always very moving to hear the stories of the prospective students that are calling in and wonderful to hear when there are happy outcomes too.
Clearing is the culmination of many months of hard work, this year has been no exception with hundreds of our staff, and volunteers working relentlessly over the weekend, since the A level results were announced last week. In the first two hours of clearing alone, we received twice as many calls as in the same period last year, with over 3000 on the first day, a record number for the University. Quite an achievement as this year, because of the demographic dip, there are 4% fewer 18-year-olds in the population of Wales and UK figures are down too. Of course, the Open Days are key to increasing interest too. We’ve made a lot of improvements and, together with an impressive recruitment campaign for home undergraduate market and international and postgraduate students, brought about a 30% increase in attendance, helping to sustain the growth of the University too and the clearing campaign has ensured that we are continuing to flourish.
Student recruitment is still underway but we’ll soon finalise this and then focus on ensuring we can best support students with their learning, growing their employability skills in preparation for the world of work, with our staff enabling them to be the best person that they can be.
So, thank you to all of my colleagues for all that you have done.
And to all of those joining us soon, welcome to Swansea, see you in arrivals week!
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