UK Higher Education

How marketing for entry rates could be impacting your student recruitment

With clearing almost finished the churn of the annual recruitment cycle continues to move at pace.

Throughout each cycle we see major strategic emphasis placed on tariff point entry rates and institutional positioning in the market, as well as the associated optics, market saturation and brand balancing acts.

However, an area where marketing can fall short is taking into consideration the entry rates being targeted, as data continues to show predicted grades aren’t always accurate.

When comparing last year’s HESA enrolments – which was adjusted for this year’s ofqual achieved grades – with IDP Connect data prior to clearing, we can see a drastic disparity in predicted vs actual grades.


From this data there are two important trends to address.

– The inaccuracy of predicted grades as an indicator of quality of students

– For the first time in about four years, students achieved less A+ to B grades and more C to U grades

Given students from disadvantaged backgrounds typically receive lower predicted grades, there is the very pressing question of systemic social mobility barriers in the current admissions systems.

This creates another obstacle on an already protracted journey to enrolment, especially when predicted grades are primary criteria for offer making on most courses.

From a university perspective, whether your concern is widening participation or student recruitment figures, the key takeaway is when targeting students during the main recruitment cycle careful consideration should be placed on grade level segmentation and market posturing.

While you might publicise an entry requirement of 132 tariff points for a given course, the segment you should proactively target are students with 104 points and above.

Granted, this is a generalisation and naturally there is a difference in achievement on a subject-by-subject basis, which certainly could be nuanced to include regional data.

This is precisely why having focused, measurable control over marketing activities is tantamount to success. Retargeting is a key piece of inventory, driving new leads from competitor sub-markets but also re-engaging already bought in prospective students.

If you are interested in learning more about how retargeting can be used, as well as gaining exclusive access to our 11 million strong undergraduate traffic, get in touch with us at

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