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RCU suggests how to research college no-shows

October 4, 2013

At this time in the year, the conversion of applications to enrolments is a key priority in the forefront of the minds of all college managers and marketing departments. Of particular interest will be school leavers and other young people who the college was expecting to turn up in September, however as we all know, not everyone who applied, received an interview/offer, or even accepted a place will turn up and enrol at the start of the new academic year.

This is a huge deal for colleges, especially when you consider that on average over half of the income for all colleges in England comes from EFA funding for 16-19 year olds, a figure which not surprisingly rises to almost 90% for Sixth Form Colleges (SFA College Accounts 2011/12).

These ‘no shows’ therefore present a significant problem for colleges and one which it would be wise to invest in further. The good news is that unless these individuals have opted out from being contacted for research purposes your college will hold a wealth of information which could be used further including their telephone numbers, email addresses, home postcodes and course applied for. This presents a fantastic opportunity to carry out a review of your college enrolment process to better understand the reasons why these individuals have chosen not to come and therefore reduce the number of applicants who don’t turn up in the future.

By conducting effective and timely research with these ‘no shows’ your college also has the potential to gain hugely powerful insight into:

  • How these individuals perceive your college compared to other providers – where did they actually chose to study?
  • How well does your college handle applications and are there any potential areas for improvement?
  • Is the individual likely to re-apply to study at your college in the future?

Using information such as the applicant’s home postcode also gives you an opportunity to explore other reasons for ‘no shows’ such as proximity to other education providers, exposure to your colleges marketing materials, transport routes to the college or even potential socio-demographic reasons for not attending your college.

Further Education enrolment marketing is a continuous and structured communications approach designed to achieve the desired number of college learner enrolments. As this market becomes increasingly more competitive, with more school sixth forms and academies opening and the 16 year old cohort declining across many areas of the country it is more important than ever to ensure your college’s application to enrolment process is as current and effective as it can be.

While focus will fall on learners leaving schools to attend colleges in September it is just as important to keep an eye on the continuous conversion of applicants to enrolments throughout the academic year and monitor those individuals who leave the college early without completing their course.

Supplied by Chris Lee, RCU

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