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Developing our applications, admissions, marketing and recruitment structures

12 Dec 2019

Update on progress from the Student Experience Programme

Dear colleagues

You may already be aware of the Student Experience Programme (SEP). This recent combination of several projects - including the former Student Lifecycle Project (SLP) and the My Manchester project - aims to review and improve our technology, processes, and structures, with our people a significant focus of the work – to ensure we provide excellent, efficient services to all our applicants and students. 

To deliver this transformation in services, working groups have been tasked with recommending new structures for each area of activity  taking into account the new processes and technology designed by colleagues through SLP and our drivers for change. The working groups are formed of colleagues with expert knowledge from the relevant areas (see a full list of working group members), working in close partnership with students and academics, both within the working groups and across the programme as a whole.  

Working together to develop new structures

In recent staff surveys, you’ve communicated that the University needs to get better at managing change. Seeking to address this feedback, we are involving colleagues working in affected areas in conversations much earlier than we have in previous change initiatives, so that they can input into future change and be better prepared.

Working groups for the first two areas to be reviewed, Applications and Admissions (led by Jayne Hindle, Head of School Operations in the School of Arts Languages and Cultures) and Student Marketing and Recruitment (led by Wayne Keating, Head of Teaching, Learning and Student Experience in the Faculty of Science and Engineering), recently held engagement sessions for admissions, marketing and recruitment managers and academics.  The working groups presented their current thinking and attendees were asked for feedback to help shape the emerging recommendations.

The emerging recommendations focus on: 

  • Increasing the effectiveness of recruitment campaigns by introducing new digital and data expertise to target audiences more effectively.
  • Increasing standardisation and co-ordination to help us provide a more consistent service to applicants, collect data to inform future work, as well as making it easier for PS colleagues to move between roles which share skills, and progress in their career.
  • Increasing efficiency and ease of work by reducing duplication across teams and collaborating across functions, where appropriate.

Colleagues who attended the engagement sessions were asked to discuss the emerging recommendations within their teams and get wider input, before returning to a second session to share feedback.  There was really constructive debate and lots of valuable feedback. 

Some common points raised included:

  • The importance of good relationships between academic and PS teams, whether they sit at Department, School, Faculty or Central level – not just on day-to-day activity, but on collaborating to determine strategy and targets.
  • How there is potentially a great opportunity for increasing the skills of existing staff, particularly around conversion (when an applicant’s status changes, for example when they accept an offer).
  • How the introduction of a new ‘data marketing’ function could help teams better understand applicant behaviour, making our campaigns more effective.

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback – in particular the recruitment, marketing and admissions managers who took time to attend the sessions. We know colleagues are keen to see more detail, including proposed job descriptions and structure charts, and we will share these when we are able to. However, I am sure you will appreciate that involving staff earlier in the process, so colleagues can meaningfully influence the direction of travel, has meant that we had to share the emerging recommendations before the detailed work has been done. 

The working groups have already made changes to their recommendations based on the feedback provided by colleagues, including revisions to ensure a closer interface between marketing, recruitment and admissions staff and to strengthen working relations between academic and professional services staff. They will be holding a session in January for admissions, marketing and recruitment managers, to explain in more detail how the feedback has been used. 

Your feedback to date has been invaluable in the preparation of the business case for people and structural change across the two themes. Subject to obtaining necessary approval (summarised under “Next steps” below) we will be able to share more of the detail that is being requested.

Next steps

The feedback from all the engagement sessions has been collated and a detailed business case for people and structural change across the two themes is being developed. The aim is to bring recommendations to Staffing Committee and the Board of Governors in February 2020 for approval to commence formal consultation with the trade unions. Once we enter formal collective consultation with the trade unions we will be able to share the detail on the proposals.

In the meantime if you have any questions about the emerging recommendations, the working groups or anything else to do with SEP, email us at

Working groups will develop proposals for the remaining nine SEP areas throughout 2020 and we will keep you updated as this activity progresses. 

Best wishes,

Simon Merrywest

Student Experience Programme Director.