Clear vision: a step towards unravelling student recruitment in English universities?




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Peer reviewed



Purpose The recruitment of undergraduate students within English universities is of vital importance to both the academic success and the financial stability of the organisation. Despite the primacy of the task, there has been a dearth of research looking at related performance and how to ensure that the process is optimised. The purpose of this study was to investigate the degree of variation both within a university and between different universities. The reliance that individual programmes and/or universities place on the Clearing process is key; given its uncertainty, resource demands and timing shortly before students take up their places.

Design/methodology/approach The Nomogramma di Gandy diagrammatical approach utilises readily available data to analyse universities’ performance in recruiting students to different programmes, and the degree to which they each rely of the Clearing process. Inter-university performance was investigated on a whole-student intake basis for a sample of English universities, representative of type and region.

Findings The study found that there were disparate patterns for the many programmes within the pilot university and also disparate patterns between different types of universities across England. Accordingly, universities should internally benchmark their programmes to inform both strategic and tactical decision-making. Similarly, Universities and Colleges Admissions Service benchmarking inter-university patterns could inform the overall sector.

Originality/value The approach and findings provide lessons for analysing student recruitment which could be critical to universities’ academic and financial health, in an increasingly competitive environment.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


Student recruitement, benchmarking, Nommogamma ni gandy, clearing, higher education


Gandy, R., Wolstencroft, P., Geer, K. and de Main, L. (2023) Clear vision: a step towards unravelling student recruitment in English universities?. Benchmarking: An International Journal,


Research Institute