Information Services

Huge success for 'better than ever' Results Days Helpline

A results day helpline and clearing call-centre has again been delivered efficiently and effectively to support students on to the next stage of their education, thanks to the efforts of the University of Edinburgh’s (UoE) Information Services Group (ISG).

black and brown headset near laptop computer

The helpline, which was supported by an ISG project team, operated from Argyle House on August 9 for SQA results and August 18 and 19 for A Level results. The Helpline dealt with hundreds of calls to provide information to applicants and those seeking places through clearing, as well as enabling UoE College admissions teams to better deal with specialist queries.

Building on experience from previous years, and adopting lessons learnt during the pandemic, the project also delivered a number of enhancements and revised ways of working to ensure the call-centre and enquiry management worked better than ever.

Muriel Mewissen, the Project and Programme Manager, said: “The call centre set up and operation is truly a team effort and requires the participation of many staff across the University in ISG, University Secretary’s Group (USG) and the Colleges.

“The call centre operation for both SQA and A Level Results Days and Clearing Helpline went very smoothly. There was no issue to report.”

Ahead of this year’s results day the ISG project team procured and set up on-campus telecommunications infrastructure to handle calls supported by Microsoft SharePoint data capture forms.

They also delivered technical support during the call centre’s operation and ensured Central and College Admissions areas were fully equipped and prepared to handle inbound clearing calls.

Messages on the UoE switchboard and the enquiry management systems directed calls to the Helpline to further ensure that the call centre was the single point of contact for all results and clearing queries.

Over the course of results days, the Helpline team answered 2095 calls – the majority of calls answered. This helped to significantly reduce the burden of Colleges’ admissions teams by enabling them to focus on a small number of transferred calls (294) requiring specialist input.

The team additionally helped to support clearing management for which Nursing was the only programme open for applications which was available this year.

Changes made to this year’s Helpline provision resulted in a range of improvements to the service.

This included Colleges’ phone numbers being automatically routed to the Helpline numbers, funnelling over 900 calls from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) and the College of Science and Engineering (CSE). This effectively reduced the number of calls to Colleges’ Admission Teams by two thirds.

Several call queues were also configured to support flexible and easy-to-manage quick routing of calls to the best possible pool of call-answering operators. These queues were: Helpline, Clearing, Supervisor, Fees, CAHSS Helpline, CAHSS Clearing, CSE Helpline, CSE Clearing, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine (MVM) Helpline, MVM Clearing, and Vets Helpline.

Furthermore, a new application front end gave greater control to operators in respect to call answering, giving them more flexibility to handle inbound and outbound internal and external calls.

In addition, the call centre was also used to confirm places to 240 Scottish ‘Widening Participation’ (WP) applicants, adding another several hundred outbound calls made on SQA Results Day.

Gillian Simmons, Head of Admissions at UoE, said: “Things ran incredibly smoothly, and the call centre was able to deal with more than 70% of the calls that came in, taking a huge amount of pressure off the College admissions teams. We couldn’t have done this without all the teams’ help and support.

“It was particularly nice that we had the capacity this year to make “congratulations” calls to our Plus Flag Widening Participation offer holders, who had just had their places confirmed.”

Fiona-Maree Kneale, Senior Receptionist at UoE, added: “This has been the least stressful clearing period the switchboard operators can remember.”