University Challenge: Recruitment

By Tony Brookes, Sales Director, Vacancy Filler Recruitment Software

Universities are in a state of flux, partly as a result of government policies towards university education. While many have embraced change and altered their financial strategies to enable them to cope with uncertain times going forward, funding is still an issue for some. 

A recent survey by the Guardian newspaper found that under the new funding rules almost half of English universities plan to expand their student intake over the next five years, some by as much as 50%.*

Regarding funding, Universities UK says: “Public sources of funding are significantly constrained in their ability to support an increase in student numbers. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) may have to make cuts of between 15% and 30% from 2014–15 to 2017–18 based on the current fiscal outlook.”**

All this makes it very difficult for universities to decide how many lecturing and administrative/support staff they will need to meet the demands of the growing number of students. In addition, the advent of tuition fees means that students are understandably demanding better teaching and an improved university experience. 

This impacts recruitment in that universities need to do it efficiently and cost-effectively so that they can re-invest the savings in improving standards. They have to attract and identify the most talented staff , in order to continue to deliver the performance that students are increasingly demanding. The very extensive use of social media by the younger generation means that institutional and individual reputations can be dashed very quickly.

Finding staff with the right qualifications and experience who also fit with a particular culture and ethos is not always easy. And although the UK government is committed to simplifying legislation around workplace laws, including those relating to recruitment, there are still many rules and regulations with which educational establishments need to comply.

Increasingly, educational establishments of all types are turning to online recruitment systems to help with this. While relatively new, such systems are becoming widely used in this sector and can help with the compliance, legal requirements and reporting aspects, among many others. Any selected system should streamline and speed up the recruitment process for both candidate and recruiter. Improved quality of hire, a low cost of ownership and measurable return on investment are just some of the benefits of the best of these systems.

By using online recruitment systems, universities can now automate and centralise the hiring process to save time and money, recruit and retain top talent, and, by improving candidate experience, build the organisation’s brand. They also help align recruitment activities with key goals and priorities and make time-consuming administrative tasks such as the completion of year-end forms on, for example, diversity, very much faster and more accurate.

Some things those considering these systems should look for include:

  • Ease of use, quick to implement, agile, requiring minimal training.
  • Integration with careers pages, Job Boards and Social media to eliminate the need for expensive advertising.
  • A choice of online application forms or CVs.
  • Online shortlisting and scoring against essential and desirable criteria to ensure hires are made with no bias, all notes regarding candidates are made online.
  • Automatic but personalised candidate communications resulting in significantly less manual intervention.
  • The option of video interviewing.
  • Integrated background and criminal records checking. 
  • ‘Onboarding’ where new starter information is collected, employment contracts generated details posted to electronically to the HR and payroll system and departments notified about the new starter.
  • The facility to accumulate a ‘talent pool’ of retained candidates who may be suitable for future roles thus further reducing the time to hire and re-advertise costs. 

Universities are likely to find it increasingly challenging to recruit and retain the best. Using technology to improve the process is becoming not merely an option but as a necessity.

** The Funding Challenge for Universities – 


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