Lucy Brook, marketing director for Applicaa, the creators of Admissions+, discusses digital transformation in school admissions and managing virtual enrolment

With the end of this school year approaching, our thoughts turn to admissions for September and upcoming enrolment days. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, schools will not be able to meet new students in person or host induction days over this summer, fuelling demand for digital admissions and virtual enrolment days.

Customer demand

According to the Office for National Statistics (2019), 75% of mothers and almost 93% of fathers with dependent children in the UK work (pre-COVID figures). With the majority of today’s parents in work, family time is more precious than ever. Consumers are demanding fast, online services as parents grow increasingly time-poor.

The COVID-19 landscape

Children’s safety and wellbeing are the key concerns for parents, making the usual format for enrolment and induction days impossible. Using technologies like Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Admissions+, schools have been able to run effective digital learning and enrolment, something unthinkable a few years ago.

Sustainability

Consumers today are rightly demanding more and more sustainable operations and Generation Z is particularly concerned. Over one-third of buyers will pay more for sustainable products, according to Globe Newswire (2019), and the parents of the future will surely expect such operations for their children.

Digital admissions

With all these rising pressures, more schools could be digitally transforming their admissions processes. Having experienced school admissions both as a parent and professionally across all sectors, I understand the pressures facing enrolment teams. The prevalence of paper-based admissions adds to an already bureaucratic process.

According to the Department for Education, several counties in the UK have achieved almost 100% digital senior school admissions, resulting in long-term cost savings. Some of the benefits realised by schools that have achieved this include:

● Easy online application for parents and students
● Exam certificates uploaded from any internet-connected device
● Paperless enrolment onto available courses
● Automatically generated timetables
● Accurate data and reporting.

By removing many of the administrative elements, admissions teams have more time for personal contact (under normal circumstances) with families and students and are supported in delivering a more efficient service. Academic staff are also rewarded with accurate timetables generated electronically and knowledge of which courses are filling up at GCSE and sixth form level.

Data management

In addition to enhancements for admissions teams, the wider school staff benefit. Digital systems meet GDPR requirements (no personal information is shared), aid inspection preparedness and significantly reduce other administrative tasks. There is a reduced risk of error and more accurate and timely data is produced for reporting to school management teams.

This new landscape has kick-started a move towards virtual delivery which can work seamlessly in partnership with the best personal service and admissions expertise. This blended model of robust data, excellent customer experience and personal interaction will deliver a sleek digital admissions process for schools and colleges and, at the same time, help time-poor parents reduce their administration.