Unified communications helps university recruitment - SOAS University case study

Tags: education | case study | video conferencing | telephony | voicemail | WebEx | unified comms


SOAS University of London is the world’s leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

SOAS had an ageing telephony system that was coming to the end of its life. Maintenance had become difficult and running costs were going through the roof.

The University Executive Board decided the time had come to re-invest in a new communications solution. Key to the new requirement was future proofing and flexibility.

To keep student numbers at an optimum SOAS would have to deal more effectively with large volumes of student enquiries from the Clearing system. With the current set up, they were unable to deal with Clearing calls professionally and potential students were being lost.

BT provided a Cisco® Unified Communications and Contact Centre solution with voicemail, unified messaging and video conferencing. The solution covered around six buildings across two campus locations.

Phase one of the new solution enabled SOAS to create a ‘mini’ contact centre capability with 30 people answering calls on the first day of Clearing. The system professionally queued callers and played music and messages to potential students in the call queue. On the first day of Clearing the team handled 2,000 calls, a 10 fold increase in the number they’d previously been able to take – enabling SOAS to recruit their target number of new students.

Staff can now ‘hot desk’ across the two campuses and six buildings – and the built in staff directory on the devices along with WebEx collaboration capability has been a real hit.

Every phone now has built in video capability, enhancing internal staff communication, whilst the existing video conferencing equipment has been connected to the new system enabling SOAS to meet and interview overseas staff and students without the need for either party to travel.

Martin Whiteside, Assistant Director of IT Services at SOAS said “The new system has lowered our annual maintenance costs by 75%, overseas travel spend has been reduced and with just one network to run for all data and voice services -the return on investment has been excellent.”