How GCI are clearing the way to university for potential students

The concept of using a Call Centre during Clearing might be new but it’s quickly increasing in popularity and is already being seen in South Africa

31 January 2019

Every summer, teenagers across the country have a nail-biting wait for their exam results. For many, opening their envelopes in August will bring jubilation as they receive the news that they have gained enough UCAS points to earn a place on a course at their Higher Education (HE) institute of choice. However, others must enter the Clearing process, hoping for a place at another university or college, and with just over 14,000 students securing a place through Clearing in 2018 alone, it’s an extremely busy time for universities and HE colleges. It’s in their best interests to have completely full courses. After all, they might be providing an education but they are still a business, and maximum capacity means maximum course fees; up to £9250 per year for students in the UK. But it’s not just the pressure of finding places for additional students that can be stressful; the expectations of students for a quick resolution are higher than ever.

Generation Z are categorised – very roughly – as those born between the years of 1995-2012 and have grown up with technology at their fingertips. They don’t remember a time before social media and smartphones, and have therefore reached maturity in an age of instant gratification. These undergraduates are able to contact their favorite brands on social media, pay for purchases online, and resolve any issues on live chat…so why would they expect any different during Clearing?

The University of Westminster recognises how the Clearing process plays a vital role in reaching potential students. A GCI customer for many years, the university needed a solution that would better help them connect with undergraduates at such a crucial time; however, as the university’s levels of high demand are seasonal, it would not be cost-effective to procure a solution for use all year round. GCI solved the university’s problem by implementing a Contact Centre that would integrate with its telephony platform. The solution allows The University of Westminster to field incoming calls by empowering staff with the tools they need to communicate with prospective students. Additionally, to further support the University of Westminster during this very busy period, every year GCI provide an on-site engineer who can step in should any issues occur, a trainer to assist agents with the adoption of the platform and to ensure they could answer calls successfully, and two floorwalkers who could help any staff that needed it. Best of all, the OpEx nature of the platform means that the university need not spend money on costly hardware to facilitate a solution that will only be used for a few weeks of the year.

The concept of using a Call Centre during Clearing might be new but it’s quickly increasing in popularity and is already being seen in South Africa. So if this is a practice that is becoming commonplace, failure to keep up might see Higher Education institutes miss out the opportunity to take on new undergraduates, whether that’s because they can’t handle the volume of calls coming in or because they are not providing a easy-to-use student experience. GCI’s Contact Centre goes several steps beyond the traditional, voice-only Call Centre to provide a true omni-channel experience, letting your prospective new intake contact you by phone, social media, email, live chat or a combination. Underpinned by award-winning technology from Enghouse Interactive, this Enterprise-grade Contact Centre integrates natively with Microsoft Skype for Business and its Cloud-based nature means you can easily flex up and down as needed. Features include call queuing and intelligent routing, with a straightforward dashboard which shows the students journey and how they have interacted with you. That means when you communicate with them again, you have all the information about their application at your fingertips.

A joined up approach with instant resolution is not only what Generation Z have come to expect, but can be a reflection of the investment made by your university or HE college into the technology these post-Millennials expect to see. And with technology evolving so quickly that to the extent that IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is being used more and more in the Contact Centre environment, those that fail to adapt to this new way of communicating may see prospective students – and their funding – go elsewhere.

Want to know more about how you can utilise GCI’s Contact Centre for Clearing 2019? For a free, no-obligation chat and demo of our Contact Centre offering, simply get in touch with us at

Joe Murphy
Head of Public Sector

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