Confirmation and Clearing 2018 – preparing for nearly 4,000 calls a day

Confirmation and Clearing is the critical time in the academic year when across the University we work together with the single focus of finalising the Recruitment and Admissions cycle, ready for the start of the new year. In the competitive market place that higher education now is, it is more crucial than ever that every opportunity is maximised to ensure the best students are recruited when meeting University targets.

A level and BTEC results were published to higher education institutions on Friday night, and over the weekend Confirmation began as Department of Student & Academic Administration (DSAA) staff worked to process and confirm the decisions on thousands of applications. Confirmation continues this week as the DSAA, along with Planning, Marketing and Communications, and Faculties, finalise all decisions so the University is ready for Clearing.

On Tuesday and Wednesday this week there will be the all-important training and rehearsals for staff who will be working over Clearing. Here, DSAA staff are joined by the trusty bank of temporary staff who support the University during this peak time, and training is given on how to manage Clearing applications for those working on the telephone lines. This important activity will take place in advance of what is expected to be an extremely busy Thursday, Friday and Saturday, after A level and BTEC results are released to applicants.

Confirmation and Clearing is operationally managed by the DSAA, with oversight from the Marketing, Recruitment & Admissions Committee, chaired by Professor Paul Hayes, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education and Student Experience). Stephen Wiggins, Academic Registrar and Director of Student & Academic Administration said: “These are carefully planned operations which are key to the University’s ongoing success. Accuracy and speed are very important, not the easiest to simultaneously achieve, so we plan for several months and work closely with colleagues in the Faculties, Planning, Information Services, Marketing and Communications and Student Housing to make it as successful as possible.”

Planning for very busy days

While Clearing officially opened on 5 July, Marketing and Communications have been working with the DSAA and Faculties on communications and promotional activities from the beginning of last May, it is the days that follow exam results being released to students that are key. During this time the University’s Clearing Hub is based in the Richmond Building, with additional support from staff based in the Park Building. The Hub is staffed by the DSAA and temporary staff, as mentioned above, but also by colleagues from Marketing and Communications, UoP Global, and Housing. Last year we took nearly 4,000 calls on the Thursday when results were published. In the previous year the University invested in the latest telephony technology to manage the huge number of calls we receive, and with the invaluable technical support and guidance of IS staff we are ready to receive the same and more this year.

A large part of a successful Clearing event is to give applicants what they need to make a speedy decision to choose us. With this in mind our phone lines staff are fully briefed on our courses, facilities and what the city has to offer. Recruitment and Outreach staff support this and give advice and guidance to help applicants decide if we are what they want. Marketing will also be running a Clearing Visit Day on Saturday, to those that venture to Southsea to seek out the proof of what we say. The Visit Day will include an Information Fair, with stalls for students to learn more about topics such as Student Housing, and tours of the campus, similar to a regular open day, so that visitors are well informed of our facilities and services. Additionally, Housing will be holding ‘Find a Home’ days to help quickly settle new students into homes and initial friendship groups.

Using technology

There is increasing demand from students to use technology in ways that are convenient to them, and there will be plenty of social media activity going on too this year. For the first time we will be able to make offers over Live Chat, while different academics from each faculty will be available for ‘Ask Me Anything’, to give prospective students an idea of the subjects they could be studying. The Recruitment and Outreach team will be speaking to students via Facebook Live video on the morning of results day, giving encouragement and advice to keep them in good spirits, and current students at the University will be answering questions on Snapchat and Instagram during the week surrounding results day. Dr Tanya Waring, who leads the University Admissions Centre in the DSAA, says that: “Clearing has changed a lot over the last two years and as a University we’re continually innovating what we do to keep ahead of the curve, while at the same time ensuring the quality of our checking of students’ qualifications is as robust as ever.”

For those interested in data, technology is also making an impact here, with dashboards and live numbers being visible to help us all keep track of how many calls have been answered and the offers made and accepted. The vast amount of data generated every hour of the operation is used extensively within Faculties and in Planning to ensure the University makes timely and sound decisions about the all-important offer levels and available spaces. Additionally, Marketing staff use it to help identify trends and emerging opportunities to allow us to stay ahead competitively in the whirlwind of the first 24 hours of publicity around Clearing.

The last word

Clearing is a critical time in the recruitment process and a lot of very hard work, determination and commitment from staff throughout the University is put in each year to make the process successful. There are a number of times in the academic year that we each feel very proud of what we have done for the University and for students; in that spirit the last word is from one of our successful clearing student from last year, who said:

“Clearing might feel like a huge deal at the time, however, once you’re on the course and earning your degree it’s nothing, it’s in the past, and all you focus on is how good this place is for you.”

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  1. As the article mentioned, technology plays a huge part in more recent years including loading and processing results and passing data between systems. This required increasing support from IS staff and so I would like to mention the Information Services staff who were also working hard last Friday night and over the weekend to support confirmation activities and who will do the same for clearing later this week.

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