Academic Manual


Section 1: Student Recruitment

Published for 2023-24

1.1 Guiding Principles1.4 Student Recruitment Activities
1.2 Market Research1.5 Quality Control
1.3 Student Recruitment Communications1.6 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

1.1 Guiding Principles 

 Student recruitment represents the first stage in the UCL student journey. The experience at this stage will set students’ perceptions of UCL and will have a significant impact on their decision to apply to, and ultimately accept an offer of admission to UCL.
1.UCL aligns its student recruitment processes to Key Enabler 6 in its strategic plan, UCL-2034, via its central Student Recruitment and MarComms teams working in the Communication and Marketing (CAM) Division. The activities set out in this chapter are focused on delivering successful outcomes following the programme development activity set out in Chapter 7, Programme and Module Approval and Amendment Framework.
2.Activity within the CAM team, encompasses: international and UK recruitment, affiliate recruitment, prospective student recruitment communications, plus digital marketing and market research to support recruitment in all segments.
3.A consolidated central team allows the institution to adopt a consistent approach to recruitment and ensures alignment with agreed strategic priorities. The central team liaises and works closely with the academic Faculties and Departments to ensure a coordinated approach throughout the institution.
4.The Vice-Provost (Education and Student Experience) takes the academic lead for recruitment and champions the strategic priorities to academic colleagues and other members of UCL’s Senior Management Team.
5.UCL has a standing committee, the Student Recruitment, Admissions and Funding Committee (StRAFC) which is chaired by the Vice-Provost (Education and Student Experience) or their nominee. This Committee has institutional oversight of recruitment strategy and policy, reviewing these against the University’s mission and strategic objectives. StRAFC membership encompasses senior colleagues from all of UCL’s academic Schools, relevant Professional Service Divisions and from UCLU, ensuring appropriate representation from across UCL, facilitating strategic level discussion and allowing constructive dialogue to take place.
6.The Director of Student Recruitment and Head of MarComms are UCL’s lead officers for student recruitment marketing policy and practice. The Director of Student Recruitment and Head of MarComms are responsible for developing and implementing student recruitment strategies for all affiliate, international, undergraduate and graduate recruitment. These strategies and policies align with UCL’s wider strategic policies and priorities.
7.Staff involved in student recruitment advise prospective students in line with UCL’s student recruitment and admissions policies. They are trained and informed of their responsibilities with regard to the need for accuracy and consistency of information when communicating with enquirers in order to comply with CMA good practice guidelines.
8.Student recruitment is undertaken with reference to UCL's Equal Opportunities Policy and to the QAA Quality Code for higher education, in particular Chapter B2: Recruitment, Selection and Admission to Higher Education. The recruitment of international students is also undertaken with reference to the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) Code of Practice. 
9.UCL works with one student recruitment agency, SI-UK, to support recruitment to graduate taught programmes, and ensure global diversity of the student body. The UCL Centre for Languages and International Education, also uses agents in a limited number of markets for pre-degree (preparatory and English language) programmes.

1.2 Guiding Principles 

1.UCL’s core student recruitment activity is informed by market research and data analysis processes, designed to interpret UCL and external data to provide insight at both an institutional level and a departmental level. Market research further supports recruitment publication design, develops insight into new and existing markets across faculties and provides information and advice for best practice in independent market research.
2.UCL annually analyses relevant data to identify trends for students studying in the UK, understand UCL’s performance against the sector, the Russell Group, and other identified groups. Regular insights into student recruitment performance are disseminated, along with top-level market insights, across UCL in the form of infographics, scorecards and by other methods.
3.CAM further provides data and insight at a greater level of detail for external use by Student Recruitment and MarComms in planning and executing recruitment and marketing activity.
4.CAM also works with Faculty Heads of Marketing and Communications to support academic colleagues with new degree programme proposals, and specifically to identify the appropriate quantitative and qualitative research needs to assess the market for proposed programmes. Further information is given in Chapter 7.
5.Policies and procedures related to student recruitment market research are laid out in Annex 1.1.1 Market Research Policies and Procedures, and also in Chapter 7.

1.3 Student Recruitment Communications

1.UCL’s core student recruitment communications are managed by the MarComms department, part of the UCL Communications and Marketing Division A range of student recruitment communications are published in print and digital media to inform prospective students about the details of UCL’s degree and affiliate student programmes, and summer school programmes.   
2.All student recruitment communications should follow the good practice guidelines set out in Annex 1.1.2 Good Practice in Student Recruitment Communications.
3.UCL produces annual versions of the following key student recruitment publications in print and online. 

1.3.1 Undergraduate Prospectus

  • This is published in March each year and is targeted at students intending to begin undergraduate degree studies at UCL in September of the following year, eighteen months after the date of publication. 
  • The printed edition of the prospectus provides an overview of UCL’s undergraduate offering. More detailed information is hosted in the online edition.
  • Details of the production process and timelines are set out in Annex 1.1.3 Undergraduate Prospectus and Associated Materials Policies and Procedures.

1.3.2 Graduate Prospectus

  • This is published online in September each year and is targeted towards students intending to begin graduate taught studies one year after the date of publication or research studies at any time, although entry is usually in September of each year.
  • The printed edition of the prospectus provides an overview of UCL’s graduate study offering. More detailed information is hosted in the online edition. 
  • Details of the production process and timelines are set out in Annex 1.1.4 Graduate Prospectus and Associated Materials Policies and Procedures.

1.3.3 Study Abroad and Summer School Literature

  • The printed edition of ‘Study Abroad at UCL’ provides an overview of UCL’s study abroad offering. More detailed information is hosted in the online edition. This information is published in September of each year and is targeted towards students intending to begin affiliate studies in either the September twelve months after the date of publication or January sixteen months after the date of publication.
  • The printed UCL Summer School leaflet provides a brief overview of UCL’s Summer School offering and is published in August/September of each year. It is targeted at students intending to enter UCL in July/August 11/12 months after of the date of publication. Full details of the Summer School are made available online in September of each year and these are targeted at students intending to begin their Summer School programme in July/August, ten or eleven months after the date of publication. Details of the production process and timelines for ‘Study Abroad at UCL’ and UCL Summer School materials are set out in Annex 1.1.5 Study Abroad at UCL and Summer Schools Publications.

1.3.4 Faculty Marketing Materials

  • Faculty marketing teams are responsible for ensuring that information about degree programmes is up-to-date, accurate, and complies with CMA guidance with regard to the application of Consumer Protection Law as it applies to the promotion of degree programmes to prospective students. All prospectuses are intended to provide information to prospective students to inform the early stages of their decision-making process about whether to make an application to UCL. Online editions include text, imagery and video content. 
  • More detailed information, designed to provide enquirers with information about such issues as the study experience, departmental facilities and teaching staff, is provided by academic departments and faculties.

1.3.5 Web sites

  • The prospectus websites detailed in Student Recruitment Communications, para 1.3.3 above are intended to provide information to address first and second level enquiries from prospective students. Production and communication of detailed information about degree programmes (e.g. staff details, departmental facilities, detailed module content etc.) are the responsibility of faculty marketing teams in liaison with academic departments
  • Guidance on what should be included, editorial standards and how it should be linked to prospectus content in order to benefit users’ journeys through the UCL website are available at Annex 1.1.6 Good Practice for Student Recruitment Content on Departmental Websites.

1.3.6 Video content

  • Advice and guidance for department and faculty staff wishing to produce video content to support student recruitment is available on the CAM website.
  • It is important that quality control standards are applied and all video content complies with the advice and guidance prepared by the Competition and Markets Authority with regard to provision of information to prospective students. 
  • It is UCL policy that all video content must be subtitled. Not only does this meet accessibility standards to which UCL is committed, but it enables users to view videos without sound in situations when it is inappropriate for the soundtrack to be heard.
  • Details of the editorial guidelines to be followed for all student recruitment-focused videos are available at Annex 1.1.7 Good Practice in the Production of Student Recruitment Video Content.

1.3.7 Social media

  • Where student recruitment is concerned, CAM maintains the corporate UCL social media accounts for the following purposes:
  • Raising awareness of the UCL brand, the UCL offering, and student recruitment activities
  • Driving traffic to the UCL website
  • Advertising
  • Social media accounts are also used to responds to queries from prospective students.
  • Further information is available at Annex 1.1.8 Student Recruitment Good Practice.

1.4 Student Recruitment Activities

1.Via a comprehensive programme of student recruitment activities in the UK, overseas, and online, UCL seeks to ensure that all prospective students have access to information to help their decision-making. Further information is available at Annex 1.1.8 Student Recruitment Good Practice.
2.In the UK Student Recruitment organises UCL-wide undergraduate open days, a graduate open day, attendance at recruitment fairs, information sessions on how to apply, and visits to schools. These are complemented by SRS Access and Admissions activities such as delivering workshops, taster lectures and masterclasses and running a large number of projects and sessions specifically aimed at widening participation students including residential and non-residential summer schools (see Annex 1.2: Widening Participation Guidelines for Good Practice).
3.In overseas markets Student Recruitment interacts with and builds relationships with prospective students, their parents, advisers, and sponsors through a range of activities including school and university visits, visits to ministries and funding bodies, public presentations and information sessions, counselling sessions, and attendance at education exhibitions, study abroad fairs and sectorial conferences.  All of these activities – which contribute to ensuring that applicants make informed decisions when applying for admission to UCL - are undertaken by trained staff and student ambassadors.
 These activities are supported by the printed prospectuses and the Prospective Students website which provide extensive information on studying at UCL and the programmes offered.
4.Student recruitment activities are reinforced by the collection of enquirer data to facilitate an enhanced prospective experience via the delivery of tailored information. 
5.UCL uses a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to manage prospective student data, and to send student recruitment marketing communications, from enquiry to acceptance of an offer. The CRM is managed centrally by Communications and Marketing in order to ensure consistent and coordinated recruitment communications and full coverage across all faculties. The CRM system acts as a central repository for all prospective student data collected via the UCL prospective students’ web pages, and collected by the Student Recruitment and MarComms teams as a result of recruitment activities.
 Policies and procedures related to the CRM are set out in Annex 1.1.9 Student Recruitment Communications and the CRM Policy and Procedure.
6.For the purpose of recruitment to UCL programmes, it is recognised that partnerships with other universities and organisations can play an important role. A strong network of exchange and study abroad partnerships can provide students with the sort of short-term study abroad experience that often leads to applications to full degree programmes.
7.For non-award bearing (but potentially credit bearing) term time and summer school affiliate study, UCL works with a number of study abroad organisations. UCL does not work with study abroad organisations on a for commission basis.
8.Partnerships with funding bodies are an integral part of UCL's student recruitment policy. Funding bodies can take a variety of forms, from private institutions to NGOs, to government ministries. SRM takes the institutional lead in negotiating new and renewed agreements with funding bodies. Most of these are fee partnership scholarship agreements whereby the funding body and UCL will contribute (to varying degrees) to the tuition fees and the maintenance costs of the students. Following approval by the Head of Student Funding, and referral to Legal Services, the agreements are approved by the Student Recruitment, Admissions and Funding Committee (StRAFC) and signed-off by the Chair. Academic Schools are represented on StRAFC at Dean and Faculty Tutor level. Once approved by StRAFC, there is no mechanism for faculties to opt out of the shared scholarship agreements.
9.All staff working centrally in student recruitment are required to read and comply with UCL’s anti-corruption and bribery policy. Staff are required to familiarise themselves with the Bribery Act 2010 and its relevance to student recruitment.

1.5 Quality Control

1.In line with the guiding principles surrounding UCL’s student recruitment activities, and to maintain compliance with CMA advice with regard to provision of content for use in student recruitment-focused marketing materials, all student recruitment communications, across all channels, must be produced in accordance with the guidelines for quality control as set out in Guiding Principles, para 1.1.7.
2.The Student Recruitment team is responsible for ensuring that high standards in student recruitment are maintained and that UCL’s recruitment policies are adhered to. In instances of uncertainty and/or where clarification of policy is required, these should be referred to the Director of Student Recruitment.

1.6 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

1.Prospective student data should be collected, stored, and processed in compliance with general data protection regulations. For further information, see Annex 1.1.9 Student Recruitment Communications and the CRM Policy and Procedure.