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How universities can attract new students during Clearing

2015-07-27

TheBigChoice.com has been able to establish the best way in which universities can be more strategic in their marketing plans in order to differentiate themselves and attract new students during Clearing.


There is a common misconception that Clearing is only relevant to students who didn’t receive the A-level results they were expecting. While this is true, and Clearing does cater to school leavers who have fallen into this category, it’s purpose is also to support the many other students looking to find a university course more suitable to their needs.

Undergraduate Courses at University and College recently published a breakdown of who applies to university through Clearing, and the results may surprise you.

Who applies to university through Clearing?

  • Only 35% of those who missed their grades
  • Almost a quarter (24%) wanted to change course provider
  • 20% applied late
  • 24% didn’t previously receive an offer
  • 16% places in Clearing have ABB+ grades.

 Additionally, 61,300 students were placed on their university course through Clearing in 2014, which is a remarkable 23% more than students applying this way in 2010.

 Regardless of the motive behind applying to university through Clearing, there is a reason that people refer to the process as ‘the Clearing race’, and the prospect of having to resort to plan B can be extremely daunting for students.

 From working with our clients, and by having regular conversations with our university student network, BigChoice Group has been able to establish the best way in which universities can be more strategic in their marketing plans in order to differentiate themselves and attract new students during Clearing.

1. Focus on everything, not just the course itself

While the courses still available will strongly influence a student’s choice in selecting a university to study at - research shows that location and facilities also play an important role in the decision-making process.

Daniel Boffey at The Guardian explains that universities need to market themselves as a brand, with key selling points. For example, “Sheffield University pushes its research, of course, but also the "best student union", while Hull is seeking to establish in the minds of students visiting its websites that the university is "established" (the 14th oldest in England), not a former polytechnic. Then there's the omnipresent boast of great pubs.”

2. It isn't over after 48 hours - keep going!

Only 12% of the Clearing market was placed in the first 48 hours following results day last year. Two thirds are placed by the end of the first week and 20,150 students were placed between week two and the close of cycle. (Source: Undergraduate Courses at University and College)

So while the race is definitely on in that first period, keep the campaign running until either the university is full or it is the start of term.

3. Think strategically and avoid marketing gimmicks

Universities should first establish how to write an effective email as part of their marketing strategy - a highly engaging email is much more effective than expensive PR stunts and marketing gimmicks because it reduces waste and targets only those students who fit your student criteria.

However, universities need to have the tools in place to ensure they can cut through the noise (candidates will receive around 20 emails per day during the start of Clearing) and monitor what students are engaging with. Having the resources to follow up students engaging most positively to the emails is equally as important.

When bearing in mind that each student is worth £27K over three years plus housing, retail, PG potential and alumni revenue - each one ‘that slips through the fingers’ has big financial significance.

 

Reference:

[1] http://www.slideshare.net/lizmurphywork/7-secrets-of-university-clearing

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/may/18/universities-turn-to-ad-man