Monday 29 April 2019
We recently completed our last offer holder day of the year and since September we have greeted 5,000 visitors onto campus with 14 events delivered, including two extra Open Days in November and March. I really appreciate the support of those colleagues who regularly give up their Saturdays to welcome, support, inspire, and engage our visitors. Thank you to everyone involved. Whether you are cleaning reception areas, preparing presentations, running department tours, giving talks, providing coffee or welcoming visitors at the car park – it is very important to note that every activity is vital to our success.
It’s clear that people are working together across the University, making each event that little bit better and a ‘continual improvement’ culture shines through. However, it’s not just me that recognises the step-change. Personal letters of thanks and appreciation are regularly received and our post-event surveys always highlight our friendliness and responsiveness at these events.
With 15 weeks until results day, we now focus on our strategy for the Confirmation and Clearing period, to ensure that we secure well-qualified students regardless of their background, retain our offer holders and deliver a strong and diverse student population starting in the Autumn. It was my first Clearing at Leicester last summer and I worked with the teams to deliver a strategy which I still firmly believe to be the right decision: we planned a managed reduction in our intake to ensure that we did not reduce our required entry qualification. We will do the same this year – taking a long-term view on student numbers.
However, now is also the time to rebuild – to take a more strategic approach to student recruitment and to work together to respond to the challenge.
There is no doubt that we find ourselves in a particularly challenging position. A drop in the league tables at a time of increased competition, with many Russell Group universities increasing their intakes, has resulted in a dip in applications and interest in the University. So whilst we’re implementing change we must ensure that we commit the time to develop a longer-term, strategic strategy to succeed.
There are three key drivers to create this long-term plan. Firstly, we need to establish the future size and shape of our student numbers – clearly setting out our ambition and where we want to see growth for future years. As we have done with our distance learning provision, we need to think beyond the traditional full-time three-year undergraduate model and challenge ourselves to consider what future students, employers and other stakeholders want of a University. Secondly, we need to use this same thinking when we look at our courses. It important that we undertake a review of our portfolio, something we’ve never done at the University, to ensure that we protect our areas of strength, identify new opportunities and refresh those courses where we’re losing out to competitors. Finally, we need to work together to shape our future identity and all be clear about who we are and what we stand for. The excellent Launch Yourself campaign that was introduced last year was the first step in improving our approach to student recruitment and marketing, but there is more to do. The upcoming centenary celebrations and a new strategic plan provide an excellent catalyst to have these conversations across the University.
I believe we need to act swiftly to deliver these actions and I look forward to instigating the work as soon as possible. I’m confident that with everyone invited to participate in the conversations, we can craft a plan to put Leicester back on the map.
Thank you again to everyone involved in our recruitment events and thank you to everyone who has supported me in my first few weeks as Acting Vice-Chancellor. Your support is very much appreciated.
All the best
Professor Edmund Burke