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What’s occurring? Let’s talk about the UCAS March 2018 data release

What’s occurring? Let’s talk about the UCAS March 2018 data release

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With Clearing now being so much more than just a single day (I mean, at Natives Group HQ it’s kind of a big deal, right?), our teams are busy analysing and crunching data to get the best insights possible. As soon as March’s UCAS data was released, we dived right in to make sure we remain up to date in the world of student applications.

Here’s what went down…

The latest data release from UCAS shows a 2% decrease in this undergraduate application cycle. This decrease is partly down to a drop in 18 year olds in the UK, however despite this drop in actual 18 year olds, the number of applications from this age group are up. The UCAS data has shown a bigger decrease in mature applications, with nursing courses once again forming the bulk of this.

All is not lost

However, 2017 saw an interesting pattern in application timings emerge: an increase in the number of people applying through Clearing, with a rise of 14% in acceptances from those who had used Clearing to apply for university for the first time.

This was a finding reflected in our own National Clearing Survey, where the number of Direct Applicant responders increased by 9 percentiles in 2016.

What about Clearing 2018?

It seems like it can never be too early to think about Clearing or Adjustment. Even in April, students are online talking about these routes as application options. Comments like “What is the process of clearing 2018,” “What is the likelihood of getting a place in clearing,” “Is It too late to apply for University?” and “Chances of getting accepted through adjustment” already appearing. The below word cloud highlights the importance of social listening and the terminology used around Clearing in April.

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Maximising recruitment from the late application trend

So how can higher education institutions make the most of this trend for later application (and avoid the stress caused by trying to deal with 2018 promotion alongside kicking of 2019 activities)?

1. Continue marketing campaigns beyond the main UCAS deadlines: Clever advertising means you can take your budgets through UCAS Extra and Clearing, to make the most of prospective students’ ability (give or take a few weeks) to make applications throughout the year.

“Smart data-driven buying is removing the guesswork from advertising. Targeting the right person with the right message at the right time will drive a competitive edge and protect your budgets,” says Tom Setter, Head of Global Advertising at Natives Group.

“To do this involves two things; firstly understanding the data. The data you already have, the data you can get, and how to organise, analyse, and apply that data to better the quality of your marketing.”

“Secondly a deep understanding of the advertising platforms available – paid media, direct media and programmatic and the full range of techniques available is key. Targeting key locations, ad serving to better understand attribution, frequency capping to stay efficient and not bombard the same person are just a few examples of smart buying.”

Check out our blog post on exciting new advertising tactics, that are getting us excited ahead of Clearing.

2. Prepare early for Clearing: waiting for A-level results day won’t maximise your potential to recruit through this increasingly important channel. 14% of National Clearing Survey respondents took BTEC qualifications, while 16% received their results in previous years. Furthermore, many students are not waiting for results before they make their Clearing application, but are actively choosing Clearing as their main university application route – 27% of National Clearing Survey respondents were in this position in 2017. A massive 74% of National Clearing Survey respondents said they started their research in July or earlier.

3. Keep a hold of the applicants you have: the majority of applicants make their applications by the January deadline (typically 85% according to UCAS) but converting them to firm acceptances is only first step. 25% of National Clearing Survey respondents were Mind Changers – people who decided not to go to their original university choice for reasons other than their grades. Reduce your ‘mind changer melt’ by nurturing offer holders.

Watch the recording from our Clearing 2018 webinar

How can Universities smash their Clearing campaigns this summer?

With a shift in the way students are applying to university, it’s more important than ever for institutions to bring their A-Game in time for A-level results day. 

You’ll get a look at some of the tactics and new advertising developments we’ll be using in our Clearing campaigns. Oh yes, we’re going to lift the lid on how to deliver agile and effective advertising solutions, that will seriously revolutionise your marketing strategy ahead of results day.

Click here to watch the recording.