Can you advise on student numbers and forecast numbers?

QUESTION:

Can you please advise:

Student numbers for 2014/15 intake (to date) and how many students this is down on the forecast numbers.
Student numbers for 2013/14 intake and how many students this was down on the forecast numbers.

Student retention (numbers) for the 2014/15 intake (to date) and how this compares to forecast retention.
Student retention (numbers) for 2013/14 intake and how this compares to forecast retention.

How many students will be studying at Blackheath Lane in 2016/17 according to forecasts.
How many students will be studying at Stoke in 2016/17 according to forecasts.

Thanks.

ANSWER:

The University has under-recruited against target over the last two years, particularly in relation to full time undergraduate students but also international students as well. However, having had three successive years in which UCAS applications have fallen, it is pleasing to note that that the early signals for 2015 entry indicate that UCAS applications have now stabilised at 2014 levels. Notwithstanding this, considerably energies continue to be applied to marketing the University, encouraging attendance at open days and converting applications into firm, first choice acceptances.

While retention rates for level 5 and 6 students are satisfactory, we are still seeing too many level 4 students either self-withdraw or fail to complete the year in a fashion that allows them to progress to the next level of their studies. The University’s Academic Board has recently approved changes to the assessment regulations, which we hope will remove barriers to progression while maintaining academic quality and standards.

As set out in the ‘Smarter Future’ strategy document, our future is to be a medium-sized, city-based University of at least 8,500 full time undergraduate students, including more
than 1,200 international students. This includes students at our centre of excellence on the Blackheath Lane site at Stafford.

Why were senior staff not at the intake weekend?

QUESTION:

There were a lot of staff, from Services, Faculties and the SU, that came in over the weekend to ensure we were able to welcome and enrol our new full time on-campus students.

However, apart from Campus Services and the Student Office, there did not seem to be any representatives from Faculty Senior Management Teams or Executive.
This left other staff feeling that it wasn’t considered an ‘important’ event.

Please could you let us know why this was the case.

ANSWER:

As the Vice Chancellor recognised in his blog at the start of this week, Executive and other senior managers truly value the work of all those staff and students who participated in intake weekend and who welcomed and enrolled almost 2,000 new students to the University. This activity is critical to helping convert into students those who have accepted our offer of a place and also to mitigating the likelihood of withdrawal for students who may find it difficult to make the transition to the University.

A number of senior staff from Services and Faculties did attend some or all of intake weekend, the Vice Chancellor hosted a Welcome dinner for new international students and has also spoken to students from across the University at a number of Welcome sessions.

We note your comments nevertheless and will consider ways in which senior staff could attend next year’s intake weekend.

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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When will we invest in academic staff numbers?

QUESTION:
When is the University going to invest in actual academic staff numbers? We have one of the worst staff student ratios around. The IAP process for years has blocked staff recruitment and we endlessly spend money on Estates, IT systems etc.
ANSWER:
The University invests in additional academic staff when there is a need. An example is the investment in additional staff in Sport and Exercise following an increase in student numbers in the 2012/13 academic year. The university student numbers have decreased in 2012/13 and this has led to an improvement in staff student ratios. The IAP process is for capital expenditure only. Requests for additional academic staff are considered by Deans, with Faculty Management Teams in relation to faculty budget availability and discussed further with the Executive Pro Vice Chancellor and other members of Executive where this is relevant. Through the work of the portfolio review, we will continue to keep abreast of changes in student demand for courses and get better at moving resources from areas of under recruitment to growth areas, which again will be led by the Deans.

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When will a freeze on recruitment to admin roles take place?

QUESTION:
We were told at the roadshows about the Student Systems Project, that took place in October, that there would be a freeze on recruitment of permanent staff to admin roles from November.

I note however that there are still permanent jobs being advertised so wondered when this would take effect?

Thank you

 
ANSWER:
Thank you for your question. When we promoted the Student System project we explained that once we moved into the implementation stage of the project then we would put in place a number of safeguards regarding staffing. These will include being flexible, so that we can deploy staff from one area to another based upon work load demands when staff leave, not replacing the post where this is possible, and where the first two are not possible, replacing leavers with staff on fixed term contracts.

This will be put in place from January 2013 when the project moves to its implementation stage.

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.