Why is there an Open Day being held on 15 March?

QUESTION:

Just wondering why the 15th March (Mothering Sunday) has been approved as an Open Day – wouldn’t it make more sense to go with the 14th?

Can’t imagine it will be busy as everyone will be spending the day with their mums. Staff won’t be keen on working for the same reason.

Thank you

ANSWER:

Sunday 15 March was chosen as an Open Day date because it will be the first day of the Staffs V Keele Varsity, hosted this year by Staffordshire University. This means that the campus will be busy with lots of students around and activities happening on that day. The campus will be buzzing and vibrant and hosting an Open Day during Varsity gives us a great and unique opportunity to showcase our facilities and student life at their best to both our new prospects and applicants alike.

Will student recruitment decide which courses will be cut during the Stafford move?

QUESTION:

Will student recruitment for the coming years be the deciding factor when deciding what courses/staff to cut, this would be wholly unfair on Stafford based courses as any drop in recruitment over the next 2 – 3 years can be directly linked to the Executives decision to move campus and not on anything the Staff have done/not done?

 

ANSWER:

Thank you for the question. Student recruitment is the main focus of the university at the current time. We have been clear internally that the current market conditions present a challenging time for our university. Externally we have invested a great deal of time and effort in our marketing approach and our recruitment processes to maximise interest and increase the conversion activity from application to enrolment. We hope that this activity will help with our student numbers for 14/15 entry, against the backdrop of the increased competition within the sector. However, at the moment we have less applications for our FTUG courses than we did last year.

As a consequence we will review the courses that we offer in the future. This is not a new process. The Academic Development Unit undertake an Annual Portfolio Performance Review for the FT UG UCAS portfolio. This information is used in conjunction with application and enrolment data for the wider University portfolio (including Postgraduate awards) and a range of other considerations (like our portfolio of awards delivered in UK and International partners) to make decisions with faculties on which programmes should continue to be offered. These decisions are made by the Deans of Faculty and subject to executive approval.

Currently we are not seeing any adverse impact in the numbers of people applying for courses on the Stafford campus, since the announcement on the estates strategy. Indeed, from looking at data from one faculty only yesterday, the number of withdrawn applications is less this year than in previous years. We will continue to monitor the situation as we move forwards.

As part of the estates strategy decision, marketing are working with faculties and services through a special RSG mini group to ensure that all communications with applicants considering courses at Stafford are provided with all the relevant information in order to make an informed choice, which of course explains the benefits of the decision to relocate and continues to promote the university as a great place to study and live.

Will both the Open Day and the Intake Weekend run smoothly?

QUESTION:

Given the following response to a query, back in March, about the open day and intake weekend being on the same day:
We do not believe either the Open Day or Intake Weekend will be impacted by having both events on the same day.
Both events require the best customer service – and we believe they will complement each other. With 5 months preparation we can ensure the best delivery.

Please can we be told the plan that is going to mean both events will run smoothly in a couple of weeks’ time.

Please can you also indicate when we can expect the current campus re-development on the Leek Road site to be complete, as currently a large number of parking areas are unavailable, particularly by the Halls of Residence. New students moving into halls will need access to these areas to unload their belongings. In addition, we will have prospective students here who will need parking too.

Whilst I appreciate we can tell everyone that it shows investment in the campus, walking into a ‘building site’ will not give the best impression. The investment is not necessarily what will stick in the students or, more importantly, the parents minds when they leave.

 

ANSWER:

With the need to drive applications, it is key that we undertake an Open Day in September, October and November – in keeping with all Universities. The calendar of events has proven difficult for it to run on any weekend in September. Colleagues across the university have been working together planning and preparing for these two key events as well as ensuring that both staff and students are aware of the messages to share with our visitors to the Open Day as well as our new intake and their families. The accommodation tour will be impacted, but we have commissioned new internal and external photography to support the talk as an alternative. We believe it will support the vibrant and lively experience of University rather than deter.

To make sure the campus works have minimal impact, there will be clear signage on the day to direct visitors as well as providing information about our investments, showing clearly why the work is taking place.

Senior collegues will also be ‘walking the walk’ at 8am on Saturday morning to make any last minute adjustments if necessary.

 

Is it important to engage in recruitment activity?

QUESTION:
Staffordshire University is often contacted by schools and colleges in the region asking for academic speakers to attend events, deliver talks and promote our courses. Many of these events are aimed at Year 12 and 13 students – our key recruitment cohort. However, many academics are unwilling to engage in this type of recruitment activity and as a result of this our competitors are often contacted to support these events instead. Do Executive think that it is important for faculties/academics to engage in this type of recruitment activity? And if so how do they plan to encourage Academics to participate given that the Associate Deans for recruitment do not currently seem to be having an impact?

 
ANSWER:
It is important for all university staff to engage in recruitment activity which includes presentations to our target audiences and if there are issues with regard to lack of engagement we would expect these issues to be raised with appropriate staff and solutions found.

 

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How are we investing in new course design?

QUESTION:
How much investment are we putting into new course design? What’s the process for proposing new courses and getting investment for this development and delivery?

 

ANSWER:
We are putting a lot of investment in staff time and market research into new course design. The process for proposing new courses is first to talk to the relevant member of your Faculty Management Team (Dean, Associate Dean Learning and Teaching, Head of School). If they are in agreement with the proposal, there is a formal Academic Planning Process, which considers new proposals at Academic Planning Group. The first stage in this process is to complete an Outline Planning Form, which is considered and agreed at the Faculty FMT before going to the Academic Planning Group. Deans, Associate Deans Learning and Teaching and Heads of School can explain the Academic Planning process in more detail.

 

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Open Day V’s Intake Weekend

QUESTION:
I would like to ask Executive about the reasoning behind the decision to go ahead with an Open Day on Intake Weekend (21st Sept) – one of the busiest weekends of the academic calendar.

Over the past couple of years our Open Days have been buffed and polished so that everyone has a successful enjoyable experience. Likewise the welcome, enrolment and intake activities have been developed into a slick, customer focused weekend which offers a stress free start for our new students.

Our new students and Open Day Visitors each have the right to expect the University’s full attention when they come to move in/view the University.

In these times of reducing student numbers it seems silly to spread ourselves too thinly and fail.  Surely at this early stage (5 ½ months to go) it would be better to re-arrange?

 
ANSWER:
We do not believe either the Open Day or Intake Weekend will be impacted by having both events on the same day.

Both events require the best customer service – and we believe they will complement each other.  With 5 months preparation we can ensure the best delivery.

Are there plans for more varied open days?

QUESTION:
Are there any plans to hold open evenings for students who are unable to make the weekend open days?

 
ANSWER:
Thank you for your question. Our main Open Days are held on Saturdays and Wednesdays because traditionally our visitors like to spend a whole day with us to enable them to gain a real feel of the university and the surrounding area.

During Clearing we did hold an evening Information, Advice and Guidance Event aimed at full-time undergraduates who were unsure of their next steps or wanted to enquire about courses. We also hold a number of part-time open evenings throughout the year.

For anyone who cannot make an Open Day, we try to provide as many more opportunities for them to come and visit us here at Staffordshire University as possible. For example, we are hosting 12 Wednesday Visit Days during November to May which are aimed at potential applicants still in the decision-making process who have been unable to make our Open Days.

We do also offer 1 to 1 visits for anyone who cannot make the Open Days or Visit Days and we are currently researching virtual open days, self guided tours and web chats as other ways for people to find out more about us.