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May 17

Open Course Data – Review of Prospectus Processes and Recommendations

1.1  Information for Prospective Students

The type of information provided within the two student prospectuses (undergraduates and postgraduate) includes the following:

  • Courses available: for undergraduate, postgraduate taught, and postgraduate research.
  • Entry requirements: for each of the courses.
  • Course structure: Example modules for each year for the degree programme.
  • General information: about the degree programme, placement opportunity and career prospects.
  • Contact details: the office to contact for further information.

1.2  Information Sources 

The information provided in the prospectus is obtained from two main sources. These are; the academic departments who provide information regarding the degree programme and the course structure. Academic registry provides information about the course entry requirements and the UCAS codes for different types of programmes i.e. three or four year programme.

 

1.3 The Current Processes


1.3.1 Entry Requirements Process

Undergraduate Prospectus Process

The entry requirements for undergraduate programmes are updated on an annual basis (two years ahead).

  1. Entry requirements for courses are considered two years in advanced within academic departments. (i.e. the entry requirements for 2012 entry would take place in 2010).   September – November
  2. Deadline for changes to entry requirements to be included in the next paper prospectus.   End – November
  3. Review existing entry requirements and inform admissions of any changes for the next cycle (i.e. for 2012 entry, changes should be made at the start of 2011).
    January – mid-April
  4. Previous years entry requirements forms are sent to the academic departments using word documents.
  5. The academic departments make the necessary changes/updates to the entry requirements. The changes to the entry requirements for the web prospectus are sent using an Excel worksheet.
  6. Changes such as programme amendments (i.e. title/award/mode of study changes, new programmes, discontinuations), need to be made two years (one and a half for PGT) ahead of the entry year in order to ensure they are included in the print prospectus and to avoid issues with applicants already having applied for programmes that have been changed/discontinued. These changes need to be signed off by admissions.
  7. Deadlines for any changes to the entry requirements to be included in the next paper prospectus.
  8. Vast majority of changes to entry requirements passed to admissions to enable edits ready for UCAS Course Search to go live in May.
  9. Final review based on outcomes and admissions informed of minor changes.
    Immediately after Confirmation
  10. Final deadlines to inform Admissions of any changes for the next cycle. After this point, no further changes to entry requirements will be permitted.
    Mid-September
  11. Once the final amendments have been made to the entry requirements, the forms are sent to marketing to publish onto the prospectus.

Postgraduate Prospectus Process

The entry requirements for postgraduate courses are planned one and half years ahead.

  1. Review existing entry requirements and send departments previous year entry requirements forms including course information.   February (3-4 weeks)
  2. Departments edit/update the forms if necessary, and send the forms directly to marketing.   April (2 weeks)
  3. Any changes (very rare) to entry requirements, needs to go through admissions for approval before the form is sent to marketing.
  4. Admissions need to be informed about any changes before October after the print prospectus is published.

 

1.3.2 Marketing Process

Undergraduate Prospectus Process

  1. Existing information for the courses are extracted from the website, and are sent (via e-mail) to academic departments using word documents. For one course, there is one form to fill in. Entry requirements are not included at this stage.
  2. Academic departments are given three weeks to edit/update the form and return to marketing.
  3. The updated form is edited further if necessary; it is then transferred to an appropriate format that enables designer to add to working prospectus in Adobe In Design.
  4. Entry requirements for courses are sent over to Academic Registry to confirm and update if necessary. The updates are marked up on pdf proof using last years’ requirements or sent separately via e-mail (most in the case of new course or late submissions).
  5. The latest/updated entry requirements information is sent over to designer to add to working prospectus.
  6. The form including course information and entry requirements is re-proofed by marketing and further changes are made if necessary (e.g. if too much text etc).
  7. The information goes through final proofing, and it is then sent to the printers.
  8. Course information is copied from final PDF proof into word documents and is sent to the web team to put into online prospectus.
  9. The online prospectus goes live once the printed prospectus has been published/ printed.

Postgraduate Prospectus Process

  1. Existing information for the courses including entry requirements are extracted from the website, and are sent (via e-mail) to academic departments using word documents.                                                                                                         
  2. Academic departments are given three/four weeks to edit/update the form and return to marketing.
  3. The updated form is edited further if necessary; it is then transferred to an appropriate format that enables designer to add to working prospectus in Adobe ‘In Design’.
  4. The information goes through final proofing, and it is then sent to the printers.
  5. Course information is copied from final PDF proof into word documents and is sent to the web team to put into online prospectus.                                                                  
  6. The online prospectus goes live once the printed prospectus has been published printed.

2.0 Current Issues

The current issues with both (undergraduate and postgraduate) existing processes are unstructured information. There is potential for errors/mistakes to appear between different versions of word/excel documents sent between departments and marketing. There is a possibility for the information to not exactly match between the print prospectus and the online prospectus. The admissions team require to communicate the entry requirements twice, one for UCAS and for internally at Loughborough University. Overall, the process requires a lot of time between the departments to communicate information accurately, and making sure the updated version is published.

3.0 Future Processes

The future process would consist of publishing prospective information onto the web prospectus first, and to extract information from the web to produce the print prospectus. The process would also consist of prospectuses running concurrently. For example to archive the 2012 prospectus, and have the 2013 prospectus running live for students to get information. The content for the 2014 prospectus information is readily available but hidden within the content management system. It was considered to have a separate system for course information.

Step-by-Step Process:

  1. Existing course information is extracted from the Content Management System (CMS).
  2. Departments/registry: are sent links to fill in the course forms from the CMS.
  3. Updates/amend: course information via the CMS link. Users given two options after filling in the course forms, 1. Update and 2. Save as draft.
  4. Departments have their own login usernames to CMS and can only see their own course forms.
  5. Updates can be saved as draft onto the CMS.
  6. Before approval, the content goes through version control, audit trails and proofing.
  7. Final approval by marketing: moderator approval content before final submission.
  8. Content Management System: produce various outputs including XCRI feed, create multiple versions, mobile applications and produce print versions.

3.1 Differences between current and future processes

  • One form updated by all users, e.g. marketing, registry and departments via CMS link.
  • No multiple documents sent via e-mail using word/excel documents.
  • Less time spent on proof reading: form is automatically updated within the CMS.
  • Requires little or no manual input, therefore it reduces inaccuracies.
  • Reduced time required to maintain the UCAS courses database.
  • Produce multiple versions of the prospectus at a click of a button.
  • Versions control, users are able to see what information has been added/ deleted.
  • Link to LUSI: KIS module information.
  • Enable new marketing opportunities: the XCRI-CAP feed will be used by other course marketing websites e.g. Student Outreach and Recruitment (SOAR) and International marketing.

3.2 Issues with future processes 

  • The new feed will only provide one field for the entry requirements.
  • Training future users to use the Content Management system i.e. departments.
  • Need to decide which process to pilot first i.e. undergraduate or postgraduate.

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