The VC Briefing that was issued in the week before the Christmas Break made for interesting reading as the festive period loomed.
The VC refers to ambitious recruitment targets for 2017/18, as well as a subsequent failure to meet those targets. The briefing goes on to equate that shortfall to a “substantial reduction in income” that will be covered by calling upon financial reserves.
This poses a number of questions:
· Did the targets represent an increase in recruitment over previous years or do we continue to plan for decline?
- How far off target were we?
- What does this mean in cash terms?
- What is the impact in percentage terms on the University’s reserves
- Does this equate to an operating loss, and of what magnitude?
- What are the risks to the University of HEFCE intervention due to poor financial performance?
The briefing then turns to the strategy to address what is clearly a worrying development at the end of a period where worrying developments appear to have become rather commonplace.
The assembly of an executive team to look at future student recruitment is announced, a team (I paraphrase) that will “build on our recent student recruitment experiences, learn from these and identify opportunities which we can leverage and exploit so that we are in the best possible position to recruit the numbers of students we need in the future” is proposed.
More questions arise from this announcement:
- Shouldn’t this already be embedded practice?
- If it wasn’t, why not?
- Who is responsible for the University not being sufficiently focussed on recruitment strategy over a sustained period of poor recruitment performance?
- What next if sustainable levels of recruitment continue to be elusive next year? Subsequent years?
Finally, the briefing makes a commitment to updating us all in recruitment planning in the New Year. I am sure we are all eager to hear that update.