Aston University

Increase confirmed enrolments every recruitment cycle

Grow international student recruitment by  increasing the number of confirmed enrolments from offer holding international students early in the recruitment cycle.

The Background

Situated right outside the vibrant Birmingham City Centre, Aston is a long established research-led University known for its world-class teaching quality and strong links to industry, government and commerce. Aston offer a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes and is home to over 65,000 UK and international students.

Following the retirement announcement of Adobe FormsCentral early in 2015, like many other organisations, Aston was forced to source a solution to replace it. Aston’s Pre-Confirmation of Acceptance (Pre-CAS) online questionnaire was previously powered by the popular Adobe powered form builder.

Challenge 1: Overall applicant experience

The Institution was clear that it’s applicants could be offered a more enjoyable and streamlined journey. For applicants who didn’t have all the details they required to hand when they first started filling out the form, the problem of having to restart it from the beginning was a potential blocker reducing the number of applications actually completed and then submitted. For these reasons, Aston wanted to be able to allow the applicant to register, login, save and complete the Pre-CAS questionnaire from any computer, mobile or tablet device. Previously, forms would appear ‘broken’ on certain browsers, but knowing that their international applicants access their form from all over the world, they also wanted the new solution optimised to work on any browser of choice.


Aston introduced HEIapply admin and applicant portals for the final stages of its international student’s admission: the Pre-CAS Questionnaire for international applicants before issuing Confirmation of Acceptance (CAS).

Applicants are able to register their details and return to complete their form in their own convenience. They are also able to login after submittion the questionnaire to track the progress of their application. The portals provide branded environments that blend in with the Institution’s eye for design.

Challenge 2: Back-end administrative processes

Staff members at the admissions office previously captured responses from prospective students inside spreadsheets attached to emails.  from the admissions office at the University need an.  This was not easy to manage or apply filters to for sophisticated reports. There were also several manual tasks in the processes which meant resorting to traditional pen and paper methods.


The admissions office have access to an entire admin portal of their own in which they can receive and filter through incoming forms. The admin portal is easy to use, allowing even non-technical individuals to adapt to the new solution quickly. The centralised solution with in-built supplementary tools means that everything, (from tables of data, to graphs, charts and sticky notes) is in one place, so there is no need to use third party software or makes handwritten notes.

Challenge 3: Customisable forms and workflows

The University’s complex workflows were difficult to manage as separate forms were created for it’s 5 deparments that provide multiple courses and programmes. Minor changes meant that all linked forms had to be changed. Not everyone in the team should have had permission to see and do everything that senior administrators could but it was extremely confusing managing this with a basic form builder tool capturing everything inside a spreadsheet. It is important the the University’s complex workflows for it’s  5 departments and multiple programmes for each are accounted for with pristine accuracy.


The solution includes form building from scratch to mimic the workflows in the previous FormsCentral powered questionnaire. Varied permission levels are an important feature provided inside the admin portals, as some staff will need  to be trained and able to amend form fields by themselves. The complex workflows for it’s  5 departments and multiple programmes for each are accounted for with pristine accuracy using conditional rules.