Jeff Williams, Co-founder and CEO
Digital transformation projects in higher education can be notoriously challenging to execute. Universities are complex organisations, often using systems that rely on sector-specific technologies that struggle to integrate with new opportunities in tech innovation. On the face of it, the global Covid-19 pandemic has posed huge additional challenges for the industry—both from a technology and commercial perspective—but it has also demonstrated that, with the right tools, these institutions are capable of embracing innovation to improve the student experience when they need to.
When it comes to the commercial challenges, student recruitment is understandably top of the agenda of many HE providers, and there are plenty of innovators in the sector providing top-of-funnel solutions to maximise student recruitment and reach. But are universities missing opportunities further down the admissions and enrolment funnel? In this world of spreadsheets, email, and even WhatsApp, many systems and processes start to look less resilient. Throw in the additional compliance and regulatory complexity that comes with international student recruitment—with its associated ecosystem of stakeholders, from agents to immigration authorities—then there appears to be a real chance to improve the student experience, compliance, and data security using automation.
Enter Enroly, a UK-based education technology company that combines automation technology with a self-service approach to international student enrolment. The firm’s platform CAS Shield uses the latest cloud-based technology to enable university staff to work in alignment with applicants and agents to combat high existing attrition rates from deferrals and withdrawals, elevate the student experience, and safeguard against risk in visa compliance. By automating the administrative heavy lifting that universities need to undertake to issue a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) letter for visa purposes, Enroly’s university partners see five times greater staff efficiency in this phase of the admissions process, while simultaneously surfacing risk factors effectively.
Jeff Williams, Enroly’s co-founder and CEO, says, “Enroly’s automated workflow presents an opportunity for staff to manage scale, achieve best practices from a compliance perspective, and focus on person-to-person engagement and problem solving. We are the first to bring this concept of a student management system based in the cloud, where students, staff, and agents can all work out of one system seamlessly.” As well as creating efficiencies for Enroly’s university partners, the software also augments the student and agent experience, allowing these stakeholders to complete the majority of a long list of visa compliance tasks independently. This significantly speeds up the process and reduces pressure on university staff.
Because the platform has been developed with universities’ unique contexts at the forefront of the design, Enroly offers an out-of-the-box digital transformation opportunity for institutions recruiting international students. This is a game-changer for an industry where most tech transformations require millions of pounds of setup, configuration, and ongoing maintenance investment. With Enroly’s plug-and-play solution, organisations can have it up and running in days and weeks, rather than months or years.
Enroly’s automated workflow presents an opportunity for staff to manage scale, achieve best practices from a compliance perspective, and focus on person-to-person engagement and problem solving
Maynard Inkster, co-founder at Enroly, explains how these efficiencies are realised, “On average, our clients reduce their processing time per student by approximately 100 minutes. We achieve this by implementing technologies such as optical character recognition to read and assess documentation, machine learning to identify students at risk, and rules-based automation to configure customisable workflows based on institution needs.”
Another notable aspect of Enroly’s offering is that they are mobile-first, allowing maximum accessibility for students worldwide. Inkster says, “Dealing with students globally means there are many different kinds of devices students rely upon. Our platform is designed to allow access to all kinds of non-high end devices. And when it comes to the architecture on the back-end, it is lean and can operate even on low bandwidth levels.” Enroly technology is 100 percent proprietary tech and is backed by the founding team’s experience and expertise in education and international student recruitment. “We built the software with our team of industry experts. We really had our finger on the pulse of the education sector and created the product to optimise student experience during this complex phase, which ultimately maximises conversion rates for institutions, many of which are reliant on international tuition fees,” explains Williams.
Illustrating the efficacy of Enroly’s offering and the effectiveness their team brings to the table is the firm’s success story with the University of South Wales. Inkster explains, “Prior to our involvement, their team was reliant on systems which were not fit for purpose to manage the recruitment process. Since they were accelerating fast— bringing in thousands of students every year—they were struggling to keep up with the demand.”
After implementing Enroly’s software, the university was able to eradicate all of their visa refusals. Donal O’Connor, director of international student recruitment at the university, says, “Within the first five minutes of CAS Shield going live, the system identified a student on track to receive a visa refusal. CAS Shield identified the visa error the student was about to make, delivered our approved advice immediately to the student, and alerted our staff to intervene at the opportune time. CAS Shield has revolutionised the way we work and our student experience for the better.”
Today, in peak recruitment periods, over 15,000 staff, students, and agents worldwide use Enroly daily to streamline the tasks that slow down CAS, visa, and arrival administration. More than 3000 agents in 126 countries administer their students via Enroly. As a part of its plan for the future, the company intends to launch its platform in Australia early next year and expand its footprint to the United States the following year. The team is also looking at a vertical expansion, evolving the solution’s capabilities from universities to private sector pathways and independent schools.
The company also has its sights set on providing real-time insights for its clients. Williams explains, “We are working on a revolutionary data package to provide real-time data to the industry. Most organisations—from public sector universities to private sector institutions—do not have any insight on real time data. Our aim is to work with our clients to aggregate this data, anonymise it, and provide it back to them to make strategic decisions in their recruitment and marketing activities: something that has never been done before.”