Guest blog: Student recruitment update

  "Mary Hughes" by University of Kent.

In her recent blog, the Vice-Chancellor outlined how the shift in demographics and an increasingly competitive recruitment environment led to the reduction in the number of students joining the University in 2018. This trend is set to continue over the next few years, and we have already seen a significant drop in the number of overall applications to the University for 2019 entry which has inevitably impacted on our already challenging financial position.

As a result, the University has made additional resource available to the Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions Office which, in addition to supporting activities for the 2020 recruitment cycle, is being used to strengthen conversion of our existing applicants and encouraging late applicants, with a particular focus on the clearing period which runs from June to September.

Under the aegis of the Recruitment Oversight Committee, a number of activities are already in place to improve conversion for 2019 entry. This includes improvements to enquiry and applicant management, a focus on improved communications, enhanced applicant day and marketing efforts and stronger social media activity. The Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions Office is working with Schools to ensure those attending applicant days have the best possible visitor experience and to support improved direct contact with applicants. The number of marketing officers is also being increased.

Meanwhile, work on the 2020 recruitment cycle is already underway with our core recruitment message based on Kent’s demonstrated excellence across a range of areas – Excellent Education, Excellent Student Support and Excellent Employability, as demonstrated by our TEF gold, THE awards and DHLE data.

Further details of current marketing and recruitment activities are available in this Recruitment and Marketing EEG paper. In these times of rapid change, it is important that Schools are fully aware of ongoing activities and engage with Faculty Recruitment and Outreach Committees and the Recruitment and Marketing Forums to ensure they can also input their ideas, views and support for the important work in hand.       

We are operating in a very crowded and aggressive market. Applicants are heavily influenced by reputation and league table positions as well as by programme portfolio. The University will need to both manage these issues as well as our contraction in the 2020-2022 period. We need to prepare for growth, taking the opportunity to cohere, streamline and revitalise our portfolio and associated activities to make a positive impact on our league table position, so that we are in the best possible position to respond to the demographic uplift when it occurs. As Karen’s blog explains, a set of measures is being rolled out across the University to enable the necessary changes to be made. 

Your assistance and engagement with these activities is required and your suggestions and contributions are very welcome. If you would like to understand better how your involvement would assist Kent’s recruitment efforts and our league table position, please contact us – for recruitment activities: Steve Holdcroft (ems@kent.ac.uk), and for NSS and TEF: Melissa Mulhall (m.v.mulhall@kent.ac.uk).

 Mary Hughes, Academic Registrar