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We believe we can deliver these ambitious objectives if we become a fully digital organisation. This means continuing our journey from legacy IT systems towards cloud-based, service-orientated applications that minimise costs for users, improve our ability to react quickly to changed needs, and enable a more sophisticated relationship between learner needs and education provision.

A digital platform, with service-orientated architecture, enables us to manage our services for undergraduate admissions, conservatoires, teacher training, postgraduate, and post-16 as a single cluster of services with multiple pathways. This approach means greater flexibility to meet changing requirements for different user groups, improved efficiency, better reliability, and greater resilience.

Embracing digital technology has profound implications for the organisation and its ability to improve our core admissions services for all users. Internally, our journey to digital means developing new skills for our staff, deploying agile methodology in product management and service development, and embracing more flexible working approaches.

As we become increasingly digital, we can extend our services, and offer innovative approaches for universities and colleges wanting to target and increase their recruitment, and for connecting learners with learning opportunities.

Digital technology opens rich opportunities to provide personalised services and content to learners, as well as connecting with them through the channels that are now part of 21st century culture.

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A digital approach enables an engagement with learners, through perhaps a decade or more of key decisions, in their journey through education and into employment.

‘Social relationship management’, or SRM, is a strategy to be more responsive and engaged with our customers, to listen and respond to their needs quickly and with a consistency and transparency that is valued and, increasingly, expected. SRM takes our customers out of communications silos that are complex and costly to manage. It embraces ‘listening’, engagement, publishing, and content, as well as analytics. It allows content to find the learners instead of learners needing to search for content, and has the potential to transform how we motivate and prepare learners for progression in learning.

With the learner journey as the axis of our strategy, we anticipate beginning a relationship with a learner when they make key decisions at age 16, and continuing this through undergraduate and postgraduate admissions, through to employment. Throughout this journey, learners build profiles of achievement and aspirations. As well as offering the opportunity for higher education providers to build affinity with learners before they apply to courses, the development of learner profiles will facilitate more accurate applications and recording of qualifications.

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If we are to support higher education providers in attracting and recruiting learners, we need to position and build the UCAS platform as the single destination for learners wanting to progress in education. The keystone service to underpin this ambition is our courses data and our course search platform. It is therefore central to our strategy to develop these services to be best-in-class. Learners have a choice of search services to use, so it is incumbent on UCAS, as the UK’s central admissions service, to develop sophisticated, trusted and accurate course services that support learners’ decisions and providers’ recruitment needs.
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Our vision is to be at the heart of connecting people to higher education. Our strategy is to position ourselves as a digital hub in which the strength of our engagement with learners underpins the value of our service to education providers. And the strength of our engagement with providers underpins the value of our service to learners. This symbiotic relationship, enabled by UCAS services, is the core of a balanced ecosystem of ancillary services and relationships. This will also embrace the role of multiple stakeholders, advisers, parents, schools, awarding bodies and others who play a part in supporting learner progression.
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If we want to continue to earn the trust and commitment of our customers to the central admissions service for higher education, we need to maintain a singular focus on exceptional customer service. We employ customer logic in everything we do and we look through the customer lens to inform all our service delivery and development.

Our commitment to digital methodologies and technology goes some of the way to ensuring an excellent customer experience. But not all relationships are conducted in cyberspace, and UCAS remains committed to engaging with customers through a network of user groups and advisory boards. These range from groups serving the four countries of the UK and regions within them, to groups based on markets such as international, undergraduate or postgraduate. We have dedicated teams managing our relationships with higher education providers, schools and colleges, and with technology professionals throughout the sector.

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As we transform our technology platform, we also have the opportunity to build an ever more sophisticated data architecture. The rich, real-time dataset that UCAS is privileged to hold provides numerous opportunities to support our customers. We will continue to build on recent improvements
to the sector-wide data that we publish, as well as developing new services that providers can utilise to optimise recruitment and admissions strategies.

We remain committed to widening participation and fair access. We will increasingly deploy analysis services to support non-traditional learners and those from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to benefit from higher education.

We are governed by the Data Protection Act 1998 and use high standards of data governance and information security.

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Qualifications are the currency of progression in learning and UCAS has a strategic role to help learners understand the value of the qualifications they choose to pursue.

We will ensure we keep higher education providers up-to-date with qualifications developments in the different countries of the UK, and the new Tariff will increasingly be rolled out to embrace international qualifications.

Validated qualifications information is an essential element of the admissions process, and we will continue to enhance our data exchange with awarding bodies.

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To enable the significant improvements in our services that this strategy anticipates, we will continue to develop our commercial arm, UCAS Media. Many of our higher education customers require bespoke marketing and analytical services, and we can strengthen our value to the sector and complement our mission by extending our paid-for services.

In addition, UCAS Media is able to offer opportunities to selected commercial organisations who want to connect to our audiences. We do this where those companies’ services add value to students and prospective students.

These paid-for services generate profits which are gift-aided to the parent charity, providing funding for innovation as well as keeping costs to applicants and providers at a minimum.

While generalised advertising and marketing messages may be shown on the UCAS website and digital channels, neither UCAS nor UCAS Media ever provide paid-for marketing content direct to its customers without their consent.

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Delivering our strategy relies on UCAS being able to attract and retain skilled and talented staff to support our ambitions. We have a comprehensive approach to staff development, training people with new skills, and building digital literacy across the whole organisation. Staff at UCAS are highly committed to our mission and we will continue to develop our culture of excellence and high performance. We want UCAS to be an employer of choice and for our employees to experience fulfilment and motivation at work.

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UCAS has a conservative financial strategy as befits a charity providing an important public service. We aim to get to a position where the core services become self-funding, and funds generated through our commercial arm can be deployed to fund innovation and enhanced public benefit.