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“Our industry is undergoing a transformation driven by data science and technology, enabling us to offer more tailored recommendations and fast-track the student application process.”

This is how Neil Pearson, Chief Digital Officer for IDP Education, recently described the international education sector. In the blog, he also talked about IDP’s commitment to finding the right balance between the use of AI and data science technology and providing human support.

FastLane is one such initiative; an online system facilitated by skilled counsellor input and data matching to institution rules, to enable increased efficiency and best-fit outcomes for students and institutions. Effectively, FastLane allows admissions teams to focus resources on converting the right students.

As an offer-in-principle service, FastLane matches students to live admissions criteria set by the individual institutions. The six-step process means students who meet program requirements are provided with a speedy offer-in-principle (OIP). This then starts an accelerated process whereby a fully verified (by humans) application is submitted and fast-tracked through admissions. The student can receive a firm offer within two working days of application submission.

FastLane in Action

FastLane was launched alongside the IDP Live App. It is a major part of IDP’s suite of facilities for students providing them with support and information at their fingertips to help them make informed international education choices from wherever they are in the world. These services include Ask IDP, Progress Tracker, Recommendation Engine, and FastLane.

In the past year, 17,500 students received formal offers after gaining an OIP using FastLane, and there are now 4,200 programs available on the service (up from 1,200 in the previous year).

In its first year of operation, one in eight students bound for Australia used FastLane, while one in nine UK-bound students were FastLane users. In Canada, 16 partner institutions have implemented FastLane, saving close to 750 hours of work that would have otherwise been spent on ineligible applicants. The application-to-offer rate for Canadian institutions (44%) is 14% higher than the global average.

Our latest product case study shows that IDP applicants who had an offer-in-principle through FastLane were 9.4% more likely to enrol than those students who did not.

Students who use FastLane work closely with counsellors to select and apply to institutions of choice and the majority of FastLane students submit three applications or fewer.

In terms of conversion – students who have applied and finalized – students with OIP applications consistently outperformed students without OIP applications across multiple intakes (post graduate students from India – Australia and UK markets only). In our FastLane Return on Investment Review and Discussion (March 2, 2023) as part of a case study, contributors told us they felt that FastLane OIP student applications were better quality and students were more committed.

IDP’s Global student NPS (Net Promoter Score) is already impressive but FastLane offer-in-principle users are more satisfied with their student application experiences. And those who used FastLane in the IDP Live app are even more satisfied, so we are sure that students are finding FastLane a successful way of applying and finding the best fit for their international education journeys.

“My counsellor introduced me to FastLane and the IDP Live app. I was amazed to receive my offer in principle within a few minutes. After that, my conditional offer came within five days. I was so happy to receive my offer in such a short time and I am really thankful to IDP."

- IDP student, now studying in Australia

“We used the FastLane process to check if I was eligible. We checked and I was eligible for my top choice and received my in-principle offer. I received my offer within one day. I was honestly so happy to receive my offer. I would recommend IDP to anyone.

- IDP student, now studying in the UK

Case Study – Exeter University

In 2022, the University of Exeter became the first Russell Group (a group of select institutions in the UK, similar to the U15) adopter of FastLane. With the University’s admissions team experiencing significant post-pandemic pressure, it was seeking a method to increase conversion and to process overseas students more efficiently. It was important to the University to ensure the most-suitable candidates were matched with the right programs.

FastLane by the numbers at Exeter:

  • 343 ineligible candidates filtered out pre-application

  • 60 hours of time saved by the admissions team (based on 10 minutes per rejection)

  • Application to Offer rate 20% higher than their average

Keyleigh Yard, International Stakeholder Liaison Officer at the University of Exeter, says, “We are already seeing the benefits. FastLane is providing us with high-quality students, reflected in our FastLane offer rate which is 20% higher than our standard rate.

“We are confident that the conversion to enrolment will follow suit as we saw higher than average application to enrolment conversion in the pilot year and have made many optimizations since then. I’d recommend FastLane to other institutions struggling with volume of applications.”

Since setting up FastLane, the University has had regular reviews to ensure the system is working as required, and the team has access to self-serve reporting through the portal to check progress. Read the full case study here.

Making a difference for institutions and students

Tennealle O’Shannessy, IDP Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, says, “Our student placement strategy is focused on delivering differentiated customer experiences on an unmatched digital and physical scale. We are doing this by leveraging our unique data assets to create products and services that allow us to both delight our customers and increase productivity.

“This is demonstrated through the scaling of FastLane, which harnesses IDP’s global dataset and client relationships to enable students to receive real-time in-principle offers from leading institutions.”

Creating better experiences for clients and customers is at the forefront of IDP’s customer-led product innovation. Ed Kelly, Director of Client Success and Operations, says, “Our clients have really helped us to understand their challenges and have co-created the service with us from day one. This allowed us to develop the service with client challenges in mind, while also ensuring we offer students the right outcome. Technology is part of the solution, matching students to eligible admission criteria, but we also rely on our network of highly-skilled counsellors to validate the matching process to ensure conversion through the funnel.

“The case studies show that FastLane helps to create better student fits by filtering out ineligible applicants prior to application – FastLane at the University of Exeter filtered out 343 ineligible candidates, and, as a direct outcome, Fastlane helped Exeter’s admission team save 60 working hours.”

Our Emerging Futures 4 student research will ask students about their attitudes towards using AI during their educational journey. We will be interested to see the student responses on the use of data science during their education application and admissions journey. Emerging Futures 4 findings launch on October 11, 2023.

FastLane is launching in Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Indonesia for undergraduate markets in October 2023.

Learn more about FastLane

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Jane Venn
Jane Venn16 October 2023