Clearing season is right around the corner with universities preparing for the 18th of August. To find out more about the clearing process and how can universities prepare for clearing, we spoke to our very own Julia Pankiewicz, a Senior Digital Manager here at Adgen. Julia has been working within the digital marketing sector for over a decade. So far, she has taken part in 8 clearing seasons and worked with over 10 universities.
So Julia, why is clearing so important to the university cycle?
It’s important to fill the places on the courses that still have vacancies.
Why is it important for the students?
It gives them hope that their journey might change from what they had originally planned. Sometimes the path that we thought we go on doesn’t quite happen so it definitely it gives students another chance. Clearing means it’s not the end of the road for students.
How can universities prepare for clearing ahead of time?
I would say the first thing they can do is start working on creatives, well before the clearing deadline. It is also important to set aside more budget than you anticipate as clearing gets more competitive each year. It’s much better to plan ahead with both creatives and budget rather than be reactive to the demand on the day.
How can universities best respond to students needs during clearing?
Make sure that students can contact the university for any questions they may have. Whether that’s getting them to sign up for updates via email or a WhatsApp group or setting up a hotline. It’s also really important to reach out the parents because in the pre clearing, they’re the ones that are more forward thinking than the students.
How can university stand out from competition during this time what can they do to be kind of have a unique voice or offering?
I think the one of the things that they can do is avoid some of the cookie cutter images. Some universities will just get a few generic creatives of students but I think that having personal stories is more ideal. BCU in particular highlights individual students stories and showcases them as their clearing creatives. This is a brilliant concept as it allows other students to relate and provides certainty for those unsure if they will get a place at the university because of their circumstances. As a result of this type of clearing campaign they have a very big cohort of students that are the first in their families go to university. It is also important to give students resources whether it’s a personal statement guide or a guide on clearing tips and tricks.
How can platform diversification aid a clearing strategy or in your opinion is it better to heavily invested in one area?
I definitely think that platform strategy is essential during clearing. Again, planning your budget in advance is recommended but a lot of the time, universities will have a small budget for clearing because they don’t want spend too much on it. When that’s the case you are very much limited on the platforms because every year the competition goes up.
Targeting 18 year olds at any level is going to be highly competitive as every other university is targeting them as well. If you just pick one platform and you have a lower budget getting that cut through is not very easy. As I said earlier, have lots of create different creatives and have much more budget than you think you need, then you can diversify on platforms. Create something fun and whimsical that you know helps student picture themselves at the university.
What is different about clearing 2022 than in previous years? What should we expect this time around?
This is the first clearing where we are completely out of lockdown. I think that a lot of students who previously deferred will be applying this year. Each year it’s more competitive than ever so I would expect cost per clicks on results day to be incredibly high. I think that people are looking to go to university and they’re looking for a typical university experience especially after a long lockdown.
Last question for you here today, if you could give one piece of advice to universities during this window, what is the one thing you would say?
Honestly, it is exactly what I said earlier. Have more creative options than you think you need and plan for more budget than you think you need.
To read our previous blog post please click here.