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Leeds Beckett University chatbot to help prospective students find the right course through Clearing


Leeds Beckett University has launched a chatbot ahead of A level results day to help prospective students find the right course for them through Clearing.
Using Facebook Messenger’s chatbot technology, the innovative Leeds Beckett bot, allows prospective students to have an online conversation to help assess their suitability for undergraduate courses that are available during university Clearing.
The chatbot, available both on desktop and mobile, uses a series of menus or keywords to guide students through the Clearing process and is available 24 hours a day.
The bot uses keywords that the prospective students type in the chat line to assess which courses they are interested in studying, then requests details of their qualifications and exam results, before making them a provisional offer.
A chatbot is a computer programme that holds natural language conversations, mimics human conversation and reacts to spoken or written prompts.
Speaking about the bot, Dougal Scaife, Head of Digital Experience and Engagement at Leeds Beckett, said: “We know that our prospective students already use lots of messaging software for communicating with their friends such as Snapchat, WhatsApp as well as texting, so developing a chatbot was a natural evolution in order to engage with our prospective students in a medium that’s ubiquitous, familiar, and comfortable for them.”
Chris Watts, Director of University Recruitment at Leeds Beckett, added: “We know that prospective students are undertaking more research prior to results day and are far more clear about both their course and their prospective career path.  Unsurprisingly the majority of this research takes place online, with social media forming a key part of the relationship prospective students are building with institutions prior to accepting a place.
“At Leeds Beckett we continue to be at the forefront of employing new technologies in meeting the needs of our prospective and current students and the launch of this chatbot to make offers to prospective students is a response to this.
“The bot hasn’t replaced more traditional methods of communication, it’s merely an addition to the already excellent service we seek to provide to all prospective students. Our phone lines will continue to be open throughout the clearing process.”

More than 28,000 students are on programmes in Leeds and abroad and they employ more than 3,000 staff. The Vice Chancellor of Leeds Beckett University is Professor Peter Slee. Leeds Beckett was one of the first universities to hold the Customer Service Excellence standard across the whole institution.

96% of Leeds Beckett University’s UK students were in work or further study six months after graduating. Source: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education 2015/16. Leeds Beckett was ranked second in the world for personal tutors, fourth in the world for technology and virtual learning facilities, and received a 93% satisfaction rate from home and international students in the Autumn 2016 independent Student Barometer survey. 

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