In early January, our very own Head of Planning & Buying and UCAS’ Head of Education Sales sat down over a cup of coffee (and microphone). They delved into the topic of UCAS’ highly-anticipated Clearing Inventory release, where they discussed the ins and outs of the process and dished out exclusive advice and guidance on how best to approach this competitive minefield.
You can catch up on the full webinar here, but let’s take a quick look at some of the standout things we learnt from this insightful conversation between two Clearing comrades.
1. The Direct Applicant is a strong driver in the Clearing Market. A 12% increase YOY for this particular group of students; and they’re not your typical school-leaver. Instead, they’re a little older, at around 21 years old, and local to your institution (approximately 45 minutes’ drive time). So decide to purposefully engage with this market and understand who they are.
2. There's been a significant shift from domestic spend to more of a focus on international spend. In particular, China is a powerhouse when looking at growth overseas; 10,000 students accepted last year to be exact. To give that number some context, the next biggest international market (Hong Kong) is only 3,450 acceptances. Have you thought about putting these markets front and centre in your 2020 strategy?
3. And on that note, International Clearing acceptance rates have risen by 8% this year, and, more interestingly, EU numbers have finally bounced back since they fell in 2017 (and continued to) after the previous year’s EU referendum.
4. The newly instated ‘release button’ from UCAS has made significant waves in the Clearing market. This puts the power in the student’s hands and because of this, numbers of students taking the ‘self-release’ option rose.
- Four in 10 respondents used the ‘decline your place’ button to enter Clearing last year.
- Over 28,000 students released themselves and just shy of 18,700 of those individuals were accepted elsewhere.
5. The important takeaway here is that 74% of this pool accepted onto a different course that they had not applied for in the main UCAS scheme - it was a completely new opportunity. What does this mean? Institutions must work hard to retain existing students. Reinforce messages to those already ‘warm’ students so that they don't go somewhere else. Have messages like “Are you looking for another course, another opportunity? Chat to us first.”
6. What about the creative? Keep it simple. Sometimes the temptation is to overload your ad with lots of messages to get your money’s worth out of the expensive inventory. But resist that temptation. Clearing is overwhelming for many students, so keep it simple and easy to act upon. If you want them to go onto your website; tell them. You want students to call? Tell them what you want them to do. Clear and concise.
7. And when should you start? Our experts’ advice is to not treat the ‘Extra’ period and ‘Clearing’ period as separate entities. Once Extra kicks off, keep your messaging and activity on, all the way up to September.