Friday, 26 November 2010

We didn't win but it was a good night

Well, we didn't win the Times Higher Education Award for Outstanding Support for Students. I was very proud of Fran for getting us short listed but it was always unlikely that we would win it two years in a row. We did have a good evening though at a very plush event and Michael Portillo did a brilliant job of presenting the awards - he was surprisingly hilarious. Here are some snaps.

Friday, 19 November 2010

MailChimp 'opened' stats and MS Outlook reading pane

I'd said in a previous post about MailChimp reports that I was a bit disappointed with a 25% open rate from our mailing list emails. However, Marta suspected that this was partly due to high numbers of users subscribing via their official University of Leicester email account which, common to many institutions, uses Microsoft Outlook. And the default setting for Outlook is for the reading pane to be on. This enables users to read an email without actually clicking on it to open it. Well, Marta and I tested it, and she was indeed correct - viewing a MailChimp email via the Outlook reading pane isn't recorded as an open in MailChimp reports. And given that more than 75% of our (now 4,000 strong) list use their address - I've come to the happy conclusion that our open rate is much better than I thought :)

Thursday, 11 November 2010

I've got round the MailChimp problem

By Za3tOoOr!
You may have seen that I've been quite excited about MailChimp lately. My excitement subsided though after Vic pointed out last week that there was a problem with users subscribing from addresses. I hadn't noticed because the initial 3,500 subscribers (which I blogged about here) had come via a Plone form - and I simply imported the csv file into MailChimp. And because I was already included on this list via my address I tested the subsequent form with other addresses - hence missing the problem (school boy error).

I contacted our IT Services and they said that MailChimp wasn't blacklisted. I contacted MailChimp and they said that there must be some kind of filter which was blocking it. The answer in the end was to create a non address for the mail to be seen to be coming from so as to get through the spam filter which blocks messages that seem to be pretending to be from addresses but are coming from an external service. So I created a sdzhelpdesk@gmail address and set up an auto-forward on that to send all mail to I then made sdzhelpdesk@gmail the default "Reply-to" email in MailChimp and it works! Confirmations from address are now received and replies to messages are routed through gmail to

I've tested it with three different people but if you would be willing to check for me (if you have a address) you can do so here. And as I said in my tweet, thanks to MattMailChimp and ITS for helping solve the problem. And to Vic for spotting it.

Now I can get on to the serious business of using it for student engagement.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Employability KPIs

Not CC (obvs)
Yesterday I attended a university committee at which my director presented our draft key performance indicators for employability. There were seven KPIs proposed as follows:
  1. Destination statistics
  2. Opportunities for career planning
  3. Support for the development of employability within courses
  4. Opportunities and support for work experience and placements
  5. Opportunities for developing employability outside the curriculum
  6. Engagement with employers
  7. External recognition and validation
The committee, however, recommended that we have just two: do our graduates get a graduate job and how much are they paid? Whilst I understand that the Browne Review places considerable pressure on universities to show potential students what return they will get for their investment (and rightly so), I can't help thinking that we're confusing institution-level KPIs with service-level KPIs.

I'd be interested in your comments, especially if you're from a careers service who's also wrestling with meaningful KPIs.