Inside the Clearing Hotline Room – T minus 17 hours…

Today our guest blogger, Marketing Officer Richard Hughes, reports on the build up to Clearing from the Clearing Hotline Room.

It’s the day before A level results day and the anticipation is building within the University’s marketing and communications department just as it is for those expecting results.

Not that what happens tomorrow is as significant for us as individuals as it is for prospective students, but as a marketing unit, and a university as a whole, it’s the culmination of a huge amount of work.

The effort to recruit students for September 2008 has been going on covertly for about a year.  If you consider our presence at higher education exhibitions, UCAS fairs and work with schools it’s really been going on for a couple of years.  And it all comes to a head tomorrow.

As results come out and the cogs of Clearing go into motion, the race is on to match up suitable students to those courses which still have places available.  The work that goes into this will have started some time ago.  TV and radio advertising, website banners, bus and billboard posters and much more has been planned and co-ordinated…. but the real business-end stuff starts tomorrow.

From 6am on Thursday marketing and academic staff will be manning the Clearing hotline to help students who haven’t got the results they hoped for.  Some might be contacting us for the first time, some will have offers but fallen short of the entry requirements.  Whatever the situation, we need to be able to give them the best advice possible.

Last year, for the first time, marketing staff were, in certain circumstances, enabled to make offers to students (rather than academic staff doing this).  This sounds straightforward, but it can be pretty nerve-racking.  It’s a huge deal to the person on the other end of the phone and we need to be absolutely certain about what we’re doing.  Not only do we need to be satisfied that they meet the entry requirements, we also need to be sure ourselves that this is the best course for them.  After all, it’s going to affect the next three years of their life and beyond.

At 2 o’ clock today all those working on the Clearing hotline will be getting their final briefing.  This will include an overview of the courses going into Clearing, entry requirements, tariff score information for all eligible qualifications and the strict processes for making offers or referring people to academic staff for further guidance.  It’s an intense day at both ends of the phone, but the pay-off is good and those magic words “I can offer you a place at Birmingham City University” will hopefully be as satisfying to hear as they are to say. 


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