In a recent survey of further education staff conducted by Capita, more than nine out of 10 reported that student numbers in their institutions had remained static or increased since last year.
Despite this, over a third (36%) of respondents stated that attracting new students remained the greatest challenge they face.
The results of the survey suggest that uncertainty remains across the sector and that institutions will need to raise the bar to continue to attract the best students.
Nigel Rayner, head of Capita’s further and higher education business, said: “We have experienced a turbulent period in education in recent times and the survey results suggest that many college staff are nervous about the volumes and calibre of students they can attract through the doors.
“The institutions that succeed in this increasingly competitive market will be those that are most effective at ensuring the changing expectations of both potential and existing students are being met.”
When quizzed about successful recruitment methods, 36% of staff believed word of mouth and face to face contact were most important, 27% opted for mobile technologies and at 21%, traditional marketing was the third most popular response.
Nigel Rayner continued: “It has been widely reported that more people on earth have access to a mobile phone than have a toothbrush, so it’s no surprise that more than a quarter of respondents felt that electronic communications are key to attracting students. This is evident from the 59% of survey respondents who indicated that their institutions are planning to implement mobile apps. This is technology that puts students at the centre of their learning journey, allowing them to access important information such as their attendance records, timetables or grades and keep up to date with announcements via a mobile phone or other internet connected device.”