Applying to university can be an exciting, if not a slightly nerve-racking experience - but only if schools offer a seamless admissions process from beginning to end. In this article, we explore what happened when a renowned educational institution decided to replace their admissions paperwork with a purely digital student recruitment approach.
Despite how far technology has come in recent years, many higher education institutions still rely on old application processes that use outdated technology, or no technology at all! In a digital world propelled by instant gratification (think quick responses and automatic replies), candidates no longer expect to wait for weeks on end for a response, which is why it’s so important that university admissions departments embrace technology in order to attract the best students.
Digital innovation has transformed - and is still in the process of innovating - the ways in which university admissions departments process applications and assess potential students. Many institutions are replacing traditional personal statements in favour of video-essays, webcam interviews and online presentations, for instance. And when it comes to processing applications, admissions software that is user-friendly enables the university to make the process easier and faster from the very first touchpoint.
But how much of a difference does digitising the student admissions process actually make? Well, if you consider The Said Foundation’s case study - a lot. By adopting admissions software, they saw their application count raise by more than 60% in the first intake, making the return on investment extremely positive.
After digitising the admissions process, Saïd Foundation could process applications quicker, and the improved admissions journey encouraged more candidates to apply!
Saïd Foundation’s success story - from paper applications to a streamlined digital process
Since 1982, Saïd Foundation has been improving the lives of young people in the Middle East and UK by investing in quality education and care, enabling them to overcome disadvantages such as disability through skills development, learning and community-based care.
The Saïd Foundation was established by Mr Wafic and Mrs Rosemary Saïd. It was founded in memory of their son and is a UK-registered charity. Their work includes support of The Saïd Business School, a programme of humanitarian relief for Syrian refugees, a child development programme and a scholarship programme.
The scholarships programme provides educational and training opportunities to students and young professionals recognised for their leadership potential. These opportunities are intended to help pupils’ career development, enable them to make professional achievements and ultimately create benefits for others in their countries of birth. These opportunities generally take the form of postgraduate scholarships at Masters or PhD levels at UK universities.
The foundation aims to create a lasting legacy by enabling young people to fulfil their potential, so they can create a brighter future for themselves and for their wider communities.
In the past, their admissions process was conducted solely on paper. Candidates applying to Saïd Foundation had to undergo a lengthy and arduous process which involved downloading a PDF application form, printing it, completing it manually (including all the supporting documents) and submitting it in person through a local representative. There was no online alternative.
These applications would contain a lot of paperwork - essays, transcripts, and letters of recommendation: all of which needed to be printed out, bundled by the admissions team and filed ready for each member of the review committee to read. Again, this was time-consuming and inneficient for the institution.
The Saïd Foundation knew that in order to maintain and increase the quality of its scholars, the staff needed a unified admissions tool that would allow them to accept, review and analyse applications easily and online.
Saïd Foundation decided to take the leap and invest in technology that would allow them to digitise and automate the entire application process. Not only would this enable prospects to complete their application and upload all the required documentation online, it would make the reviewing processing a lot easier for staff.
After reviewing different options, they decided to implement FULL FABRIC’s all-in-one admissions and CRM software for higher education.
FULL FABRIC’s admissions software package, appropriately named ‘Origin’, enables the user to streamline the entire admission process to boost enrolment. The admissions portal provide an engaging, personalised and school-branded web experience for direct applicants. Institutions can easily create an interactive and user-friendly application portal and make it easy for applicants to upload documents, request references, integrate with social media and pay an application fee (when applicable).
Saïd Foundation’s online admissions portal powered by FULL FABRIC software makes for a simple, streamlined application journey.
Benefit #1: Time-saving
Student data is captured and processed automatically, as soon as the candidate fills in their details. This enables institutions to collect meaningful data and identify the best candidates. After the first touchpoint, admissions officers are able to track each candidate's journey through the admissions process.
Benefit #2: Collaboration & Transparency
The admissions software allows institutions to build a customised review workflow designed to facilitate improved reviews and better decisions. Reviewers can easily review applications, fill out evaluations and interview feedback forms, rank applications and enter comments. This allows for an efficient and fast review process.
Benefit #3: Easier for candidates
Crucially, the digitalisation of the admissions process has had a significant impact on the student experience. Clean and simple multi-step forms together with personalised content that adapts based on the student journey will not strengthen the institution brand image and improve the student engagement level.
Emma Spittles is Saïd Foundation’s Scholarships Programme Manager. She noticed a dramatic improvement in the admissions process after going digital.