Clearing success for SITS system

The University Admissions service (UCAS) runs Clearing to offer prospective students the chance to apply for university courses that still have places available. It’s for those who’ve not received any offers, have rejected all their offers, or have missed the conditions of their offers.

In an increasingly competitive recruitment drive on A Level results day, universities across the country were geared up to fill places on their courses via Clearing.

According to The Guardian (Thursday 18 August 2016 17.09 BST) there were 41,000 courses with vacancies listed on the UCAS clearing website on Thursday afternoon – up from 37,000 at the same time last year.”

“By midnight on A-level results day, 11,180 students had secured university places through clearing, which is more than double the number five years ago, according to UCAS.” Source: Daily Telegraph: 18 August 2017 • 2:38PM

As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago here at the University of Hull, Clearing is a key event in our academic calendar. It’s also been something that our SIS programme team has been working towards all year – developing and implementing the SITS system in time for Clearing was a major milestone.

Director of ICT, John Hemingway commented: “We’ve invested over £30 million in a programme of change to transform our ICT services. Clearing this year brought together a new web presence (which dealt with an 85% increase in users visiting the site compared with A Level results day last year), a new student information system (SITS) and a new telephony system – what could possibly go wrong?!

Thankfully all the elements came together, through a structured programme of work for the SIS team involving developing and testing the system and then training staff across the University how to use it, culminating in a series of dress rehearsals. All the staff involved played their part and made this year’s Clearing a very special event.”

At times it’s been a bit like doing a heart transplant. We’ve had to open up the University’s rib cage and piece by piece replace vital organs whilst keeping the body alive, with everything still connected and functioning.

Dress Rehearsal

As part of our preparation for a successful Clearing Day we held three dress rehearsals to test the SITS system.

Director of Student Recruitment, Deborah Green, observed these: “There were some challenging issues but the SIS team worked very hard to resolve them, discovering  them in good time rather than having to cope with them in the full ‘rush’ on the big day. The call centre agents found the practice extremely helpful and as a result we all went into A Level Results Day with a far greater degree of confidence.  Many of those who’d worked on Clearing before found the systems far easier to use and much improved on previous years, which is a lovely accolade to the SIS team.”

So, how did it go on the day?

We caught up with Business Systems Analyst, Alison Hudson, who had volunteered to be one of our call centre agents. She shared her experience of working with the new system on Clearing Day:

“Having experienced Clearing several times here over the years, I found the new SITS system much more simple and straight forward to use for logging clearing enquiries:

  • it allowed us to easily find applicant details using their UCAS ID
  • in the case of applicants new to the UCAS cycle, we could log their details quickly e.g. through features such as postcode look up, and also the enquiry form hiding fields based on responses to other questions
  • adding their course choices was simple too as all courses were searchable.

“The call centre was well supported on the day by the SIS team. Staff were on hand to help and resolve any problems due to operator error and helped to rectify them quickly, and through active monitoring of enquiries logged, helped identify any problems with users incorrectly logging data. There were no system issues with SITS on the day, availability and responsiveness of the software was perfect.”

University Registrar and Secretary, Jeannette Strachan, was quick to thank the teams for all the fantastic work that they had done for Confirmation and Clearing. “I have heard lots of positive feedback both about the system but also about the support that the teams have provided. Everyone has felt very well supported. I know that that hasn’t been achieved without a huge amount of work, patience and good will. I went around all the locations with the new VC Susan Lea and she wanted me to pass on her thanks too.”


SIS Programme Manager, Barry Storey, and SIS Service Manager, Simon Pownall, reflected “We know it’s not been easy but we have delivered a credible solution that is stable and reliable. The gratitude from Jeanette is also a tribute to how we work together as a team, as much as it is about what we have achieved together.  We feel enormously proud of everyone in the team.”

But the work’s not over yet – we’ve another year on the implementation team to get everything up and running in SITS. And of course we’ll be gathering feedback from more staff who used SITS for Clearing, to see how we can improve the system for next year.





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