The University of Bradford – Applicant Support Interviews

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International students make up between 20 – 25% of the University of Bradford (UoB) student population. As part of the UoB’s pre-CAS check process, applicant support interviews are undertaken.

When the volume of international applicants increased, the UoB realised they needed to look at a more viable solution than an in-house model, which required a huge amount of expert resource in a condensed period of time.

The University of Bradford (UoB) decided to outsource applicant support interviews to Novacroft, enabling an effective and improved expert service for the 97% of the UoB’s international applicants requiring interview.

This is the story of the University of Bradford’s journey to reduce risk, keep international student visa refusal rates low, and improve the experience of applicant support interviews for international students.


The UoB needed to undertake a high volume of expertly resourced applicant support interviews in a short timeframe, due to higher demand for university places, and a change in the profile of international students.

This significant shift in the overall profile of students has been a result of the government introduction of the graduate route work visa (which is attractive to overseas applicants who wish to work in the UK after their studies) and of the university’s own increased marketing/recruitment efforts.

Undertaking this project in-house, the UoB was experiencing limited capacity amongst existing staff, skills gaps, and challenges with temporary recruitment.

A more viable and cost effective model was required.


Following a decision to outsource, the University of Bradford, which holds a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) licence for issuing Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) letters, partnered with Novacroft.

A risk assessment was undertaken and mitigations were put in place (for example, a priority on training) to ensure that risk levels were not increased for the people and organisations involved.

Novacroft worked closely with the UoB International Student Support and UKVI Compliance Team to deliver outsourced applicant support interviews at a similar cost to delivering the service in house.

Working in partnership, the UoB and Novacroft delivered:

  • Almost 2,000 completed applicant support interviews between May and August 2022
  • Mentored training to Contact Centre Advisors, via a mix of direct training and train-the-trainer training
  • An improved, leaner interview and approval process in terms of uniformity of responses, structure, quality, and supporting documentation
  • A work-from-home (WFH) contact centre model offering flexibility and employment opportunities.

By using Novacroft, were able to manage resourcing challenges due to increased work volumes, and achieve a high quality output. With our open partnership relationship, working together has been really valuable.

– Claire Pryke, Associate Director Outreach, Recruitment and Admissions, University of Bradford


  • This approach has seen the University of Bradford’s visa refusal rate remain at very low levels
  • In the first year of working with Novacroft, the UoB has experienced a continually high quality service
  • Decreased risk due to the assured availability of dedicated, specially trained advisors, and streamlined collaborative working process
  • Continued learning by working in partnership has meant e.g. improved tech guidance is now being given to applicants, pre-interview, meaning an increased number of completed interviews first time

The refusal rate metric in university UKVI licences is 10%. Our actual figure has been at very low levels for several years now.

– Claire Pryke, Associate Director Outreach, Recruitment and Admissions, University of Bradford


International students experienced interviews that were centrally arranged and coordinated. Resource on the project included people who have been international students themselves, which has meant a great level of empathy with interviewees.


The University of Bradford is keen to continue working with Novacroft on applicant support interviews, and plans to consider how UoB students could potentially bring their expertise to this project through employment opportunities with Novacroft. The university’s exec team is happy with project performance and aims to improve this further in the future, through close partnership with Novacroft. 

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