Edge Hill University

Maintaining the Past Supporting the Future

Student numbers enrolling at universities in the UK are at an all-time high. Over the past 5 years, the total number of enrolled students in Higher Education (HE) has increased by 19%!

This growth has been driven by an emphasis on HE as a route to career advancement and improved economic prospects for students. Many opportunities in the increasingly competitive job market require a university degree, and this requirement becomes essential for specialised and higher-paying roles.

Not only is the demand for HE growing with the current population, the population is growing! Forecasts from The Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that there could be nearly 900,000 18-year-olds in the population in 2030, an increase of 180,000 from 2020. This demographic change is expected to lead to significant increases in HE applications.

AFD Software is the market leader in contact data validation solutions to the HE sector. Over 100 Universities partner with AFD to check student address, email, and phone data is valid at the point of entry and regularly cleansed before Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) returns. These solutions are essential for three key reasons:

    1. Funding. Accurate address data is required to determine the residency status of students, which impacts tuition fees and government funding.
    2. Successful Enrolment. If incorrect contact details are provided at the point of application, students do not receive acceptance offers and potentially accept offers from other Universities.
    3. Ongoing Communication. Throughout a three-year degree, there will be multiple reasons for communication that will fail with the wrong details. Alumni contribute to ongoing funding and grants to universities.

The Cost of Withdrawing Support

When Microsoft announced that they were withdrawing support for the Windows 2012 server, Edge Hill University found themselves faced with a pressing challenge. The server that hosted their Student Record System required upgrading, but their incumbent provider of Address Validation couldn’t integrate the old system with a new server.

This left Edge Hill in a difficult position, as all Universities must submit student data to HESA. Strict data quality standards are a legal requirement as they form the basis of accurate funding, and for the Office for Students to understand student trends, backgrounds, and outcomes. Accurate student home address data forms a key part of this statutory requirement.

Equally perturbing, without Address Validation, Kevin Molyneux, Business Systems Support Manager at Edge Hill, realised that it would mean going back to the days of manual data entry – a nightmare of input errors, missing information and wasted time and cost trying to correct the data. So, he reached out to the provider of the system, who offered two potential address solution providers – one of which was AFD Software. Kevin fills in the details:

“The Student Record System is the database that holds all the information on our students; their course, funding details, and contact information including address. We use a system from Ellucian that has been embedded at the University for 20 years.

I requested a call back via the AFD website and within minutes I was on the phone to an expert in both address data and the HE sector. He had an in depth knowledge of the product and industry – and rather than ‘selling’, helped us find a solution and brought about the collaboration that could make that happen.”

The experience I have had with AFD as a partner is the best I have had, and I would happily recommend them to any organisation needing contact data validation solutions.

Overcoming Barriers

Edge Hill was provided with a test license from AFD but the integration code within Ellucian required certain parameters that they, and initially AFD, struggled to overcome.

Kevin continues: “We got to the position where we thought it wasn’t going to work, but the team at AFD wouldn’t give up and they found the right solution to enable address validation where we needed it. This wouldn’t have been achievable without the tenacity and responsiveness of AFD – their support team answered questions quickly and engaged with both our staff and the Ellucian team to find the solutions. Having people to talk to makes a huge difference and helped overcome the significant technical hurdles we encountered along the way.

The final hurdle was the need to resolve security-related questions that related to calling an external service from an on-site application. After the call with AFD’s infrastructure security specialists, our IT Security Manager’s feedback was ‘it is refreshing to deal with experts and come to a consensus of what’s required’.”

In summarising their experience with the Postcode People at AFD, Kevin says: “Working with AFD Software, we have been able to overcome the challenges of meeting modern stakeholder requirements while still working within the constraints of legacy applications.

I’ve worked in IT for 20 years, engaging with suppliers and organisations trying to sell things to the University regularly. The experience I have had with AFD as a partner is the best I have had, and I would happily recommend them to any organisation needing contact data validation solutions.”

Does your organisation require accurate contact data solutions from the market-leading experts? AFD Software helps thousands of organisations validate and cleanse contact data. Talk to an expert today by calling 01624 811711 or emailing joel.miller@afd.co.uk.


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