A ‘Double Excellent’ inclusive college and home to some of the top performing curriculum departments in all of Wales, Bridgend College attracts 5000+ applications from hopeful learners every year.
The college received high praise during a recent audit for ‘good practice that is not often seen elsewhere’ – both from a learner and a staff point of view - having recently transformed its applications and enrolments process.
Prior to switching to paperless enrolment, all applications were processed manually, and administration overheads meant that in September 2017, 500 applicants in the college’s system had yet to be offered an interview. Of those offered an interview, 39% failed to attend. This had significant cost implications.
New in post, Assistant Principal Joe Baldwin’s analysis of the legacy process revealed that students’ first interactions with the college differed greatly, depending on which curriculum area they applied to and their language preference. So he set about streamlining the applications and enrolments process using Prospect to:
- Reduce reliance on manual processes wherever possible,
- Provide real-time visibility of the journey for each applicant,
- Deliver compliant, targeted communications to students/parents/carers,
- Report management information at every step of the process to keep staff informed, and
- Maintain a single source of highly accurate student data.
“The new, automated process through Prospect ensures compliance with our duties under the Welsh language standards, GDPR and general accessibility and personalisation of communication as part of an individual learner journey. It was highly praised during our last audit!” - Joe Baldwin, Assistant Principal.
Emulating the efficiencies and experience of HE institutions, now when a student applies to Bridgend College they:
- Create an account, input their information, sign the learning agreement and progress their application.
- Record additional learning needs, right to remain and/or criminal convictions against their user ID.
- Self-select their interview date and view their applicant timeline, which clearly explains next steps.
- Choose their communication/language preferences - so all notifications can be tailored to them based on automated workflows.
- Receive an instant decision/learning pathway based on their predicted grade and detailed conversation at interview.
- Keep in touch between interview and enrolment with targeted invitations to relevant events sent directly to their mobile device.
This workflow works really well for Bridgend College – but is entirely customisable to your own admissions cycle. Other than administrators inputting interview date options at the beginning of the year – everything is built on workflows. This ensures complete fairness for all applicants.
Joe Baldwin continues: “Having engaged applicants through to interview, the last thing we want is them standing in a queue for 5 hours… we want them to have a really vibrant experience on enrolment day so they tell their friends - and then hopefully we get another application as a result!”
Replacing the seemingly endless cycle of data entry, re-entry and printouts that the college suffered prior to implementing Prospect, the new enrolment days are now a combined effort from marketing, administration, curriculum, skills and student wellbeing teams to make the whole experience a really positive, inclusive first step into the college.
- On arrival, learners are given a festival pass - attached to a lanyard displaying the college’s values so they feel a sense of belonging from the moment they walk through the door.
- They meet curriculum and skills teams - who sit alongside each other so they can quickly run a qualifications check and input data directly into ebs before adding a coloured sticker to their lanyard indicating the student’s curriculum area and skill level.
- Their ‘first day’ date, time and location is added to their lanyard - based on the colour of the sticker, and people are on hand to check students understand where they need to be and when.
- A photograph is taken for their ID badge - which is printed along with the student’s bus pass, straight from the system.
- And they meet the Student Wellbeing team - who give them a handbook summarising how they can report absences and request financial assistance etc. This is really more for parents and carers than it is for students!
Joe Baldwin concludes: “We’re really proud of our new process but we’re always looking for ways to improve including implementing Tribal Engage, the student app, so learners can manage more of their journey via their mobile phones.”
Thinking about moving to a digital enrolment and admissions process? Watch this video to find out more about the experience of Bridgend College.