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Transforming student admissions to reduce processing time while maintaining quality

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Transforming student admissions to reduce processing time while maintaining quality

Working with Nous was a wholly positive experience. They were knowledgeable, responsive, provided a thoroughly professional service and enabled us to facilitate deep and lasting change with a minimum of pain.
Trevor Pearce Registrar

London-based Royal College of Art (RCA), a leading art and design university, attracts applications from thousands of prospective students for postgraduate study each year.

The RCA’s admissions process was no longer fit for purpose

The RCA had grown quickly from a small specialised institution to a larger, internationally-focused university. The student admissions process was no longer fit for purpose, diverting time and resources from teaching, research and student services. The RCA engaged Nous – as part of a programme of transformation – to design, implement and evaluate a new admissions process that would continue to attract exceptional students.

A new admissions process was shaped by human-centred design

Nous used human-centred design techniques to design the new admissions process from first principles. We:

  1. held two co-design workshops with academic and professional services staff to break down long-held assumptions about the admissions process and establish new principles
  2. analysed how applications were distributed across the year
  3. compared RCA’s process with that of international competitors.

Faster processing and a better applicant experience without compromising quality

Nous’ solution included:

  • introducing clear application rounds to manage the flow of applications
  • an online application portal where applicants can upload an enhanced portfolio and submit videos
  • fewer unnecessary in-person interviews
  • better communication with applicants.

Nous was engaged to implement the new process, which led to faster processing for the admissions team and academic staff. The process also led to greater clarity on student numbers earlier in the year, which helped RCA with its annual planning. Students reported they found the process more intuitive and appreciated the online engagement with the college.

What you can learn from RCA

  • A longstanding process or system must adapt as circumstances change.
  • Long-held assumptions must be challenged to improve processes.
  • Increasing speed need not compromise quality.

Key people in this project

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