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Virtual Advisor gets A*

Alexa will join our virtual advisor “Becky” this year as prospective students look to confirm their places.

Chatbot in action

Prospective students are turning to online conversations for information and advice.

‘Becky’ the Chatbot - developed by a graduate of Leeds Beckett who is now a member of staff - had 21,173 conversations with prospective students about the university application process during last year’s clearing period alone.

  • 215 offers were made to prospective students via Becky in 2017
  • Almost half (46.6%) of students who were offered a place via the chatbot enrolled at the university in September

Students can ask Becky about anything from course specifics and accommodation information, to where the best student deals are in the city; what to do if you need health or relationship advice; where to go for support with your studies; and even how to make spaghetti bolognese.

And Leeds Beckett is working with Amazon Alexa which means prospective students can now ask the virtual assistant about courses for this year’s clearing intake, as well as receiving university offers via Alexa’s voice technology.

Dougal Scaife, Head of Digital Experience and Engagement at Leeds Beckett University, said:

“’Becky offered her first places at university to students last year and we recognised that students were asking her much more than just clearing questions.  So, we have now programmed her to be able to answer questions on a wider range of topics. One of Becky’s main advantages is that she’s available 24 hours a day, freeing up our humans to deal with applicants’ complex questions. We’re excited to be working with Amazon on the Alexa development, which is new for this year.”

Tracey Lancaster, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Corporate Communications) at Leeds Beckett University, added:

“The most important thing is that prospective students have access to high quality information that they need to make the right decision for them and their studies.  Becky and Alexa are excellent additions to our team.  We are always innovating and here we are using cutting edge voice technology so that our prospective students can get the information they need through the channels they prefer: whether that’s via face to face, phone, online chat, or from Becky.”

Figures from the UCAS 2017 clearing intake show that nationally 11.2% of students who were accepted onto university courses last year applied through clearing. Clearing is already open for September 2018 enrolment.

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