As the introduction of the new Level 3 adult offer has meant time pressures have geared up a notch for FE marketing professionals after an already testing year, and many are looking to this as an opportunity worth grabbing with both hands. Taking the quick turnaround to recruit as the motivation to hit big goals and reach tough recruitment targets, institutions and marketers are taking the proactive approach by locking in partnerships, marketing their courses and most importantly, arming themselves with research. On which subjects and courses will meet demand in their local area and what their prospective target students are looking for from this new offering. 

Already impressed by the innovation, resilience and tenacity shown by FE institutions adapting to this opportunity, we dug into this year’s National Clearing Survey to see what can be learnt from the HE at FE Clearing students of last summer: 

What type of Clearing student are you likely to see this year?

6 in 10 students stat

Six in 10 students who enrolled in HE at FE institutions through Clearing 2020 were direct applicants. And of these students, almost a third applied this way because they made a last-minute decision or had a change in personal circumstances, while almost a quarter said they did so because of Covid-19. ​

With the unpredictability of the pandemic continuing into this recruitment cycle, and with so many people currently looking into retraining, you could be expecting more direct applicants than ever. Convey the ease of applying to your institution early on, in addition to examples of the adaptability of your courses and the flexibility you offer to fit around work, family and other commitments.

How can you communicate with your Clearing students?

50% stat

Over 50% of HE at FE Clearing students said they would rather communicate with their institutions directly, as opposed to going through UCAS. How can you facilitate the typically stressful Clearing process and create personalised connections with your students? ​

HE at FE Clearing students are most concerned with subject choice, course content and career prospects, and, more than any other type of Clearing student, they consider institution location and proximity to home as important factors when deciding where to study. As many have made a last minute change, or are looking to retrain, they need to be able to learn while continuing to live their lives. Think local and think degree-life balance; these will be your target audience's main priorities.  

Why not include real students’ stories in your advertising campaigns, highlighting the unique selling points of your institution: how your alumni have been able to juggle both parenting and learning, or how part time students could study alongside their day job? Prospective students will feel reassured hearing from students themselves about why your institution is a good fit for them. 

What barriers to entry do your students face?

Students going through Clearing to HE at FE institutions are facing different barriers to other Clearing students, so make sure you’re aware of them and plan to alleviate these fears. Worries about halls of residence, or the sort of extra-curricular activities available won’t affect these types of students, so make sure your messaging is tailored around them. ​

  • Address financial concerns: over 50% of Clearing students attending HE at FE institutions say cost of tuition is a barrier to going to university, while 48% say cost of living is a barrier. 

  • Highlight your Covid safety measures and online learning capabilities: Covid-19 is a barrier to four in 10 HE at FE Clearing students.

ncs 1 in 4 statistic
  • Provide information on support services: confidence and mental health is a barrier to four in 10 HE at FE Clearing students.
  • Take a family-friendly approach, with information on grants, creche places and other support: managing family commitments is a barrier to three in 10 HE at FE Clearing students.

Use your omnichannel approach to showcase the support, financial and otherwise, you’re able to offer your students. Earlier this year, the government announced a scheme to inject £50 million into universities to support those affected financially by Covid-19, so make the support you offer well-known, and make sure you’re addressing the real problems faced by your potential students. 

If you would like to discuss more how you can make the most of the new Level 3 adult offer, or the clever solutions you want to implement to recruit even more adult learners (our friends at Akero can help you get started), get in touch today. ​

Article by

Eleana Davidson Native Author

Eleana Davidson

Senior Marketing Executive