Creating a central platform to streamline the student journey
Université PSL (Paris Sciences & Lettres) – rated among the top 50 global higher education institutions – was founded in 2010. Made up of 11 established schools, the prestigious French university proactively pursues policies that promote diversity and equal opportunities. It welcomes high-potential students from France and abroad to the 60-degree programme awarded by the university – ranging from Bachelor’s to PhD level.
To streamline and simplify the entire application process from the prospect to the final onboarding phase for those admitted, the university implemented Salesforce in 2016. An early adopter in the sector, the trailblazing organisation customised the platform to meet their requirements, rolling out a portal to give prospects full visibility of their applications and related services offered by the university. And that’s not all; to create a deeper connection, the team is using Salesforce to personalise communications and offer more value to prospects, students, and even parents of children considering university.
9schools now have a standardised admissions process
37%increase in international student applications
Simplifying applications and building long-term relationships
As a highly respected institution, Université PSL receives tens of thousands of applications per year, but only 3-18% of students are successful. “Our challenge is to identify high-potential students from all walks of life and support them throughout the admissions process, so they feel confident starting their first day of term,” explained Claire Boitard, Director of Admissions.
Today, higher education is increasingly complex for candidates to navigate: there’s more choice when it comes to courses, and admission and administrative procedures are increasingly cumbersome. This can make the applications process stressful and discouraging, especially to people from disadvantaged backgrounds who lack convenient access to information, or international students unfamiliar with the French education system.
Université PSL not only wanted to simplify this process, but it also wanted prospective students to feel supported and have greater transparency at every stage.
“The 11 schools that form Université PSL don’t have the same admissions process, which used to be confusing for students. We wanted to create one system that supported applications from a single log in and offered an extra level of reassurance,” said Fabrizio Veneziano, Salesforce CRM Project Manager at Université PSL.
The university also needed to keep candidates engaged with relevant communications throughout the admissions cycle that can take up to nine months. This means connecting with an audience with different interests, goals, demographics, and digital preferences.
Our goal was to achieve 360-degree visibility of the student journey from prospect up to and after alumni – tracking cohorts after graduation is essential to better personalise and shape services, and support our students in their success.” Claire Boitard, Director of AdmissionsUniversité PSL (Paris Sciences & Lettres)
Empowering candidates with a dedicated admissions portal
Université PSL rolled out Sales Cloud and Experience Cloud to improve the student journey and became an early Salesforce adopter in the higher education sector.
The team prioritised streamlining admissions, standardising processes, and forming stronger relationships with prospects, alumni, and prescribers. Salesforce provides a central, integrated platform and single source of truth.
The recruitment portal – built on Experience Cloud – gives prospects access to information, guidance, and services for their application, available via mobile and desktop. Data is captured in one place, and candidates can easily apply for multiple courses without duplicating information.
“Centralising all PSL’s available courses into one portal isn’t just easier for students, it also encourages them to discover and apply for more opportunities that fit their profiles,” commented Claire Boitard. “They can submit applications, arrange interviews, and see their results directly in the portal.”
When an application is submitted, an AppExchange solution generates a PDF to share with relevant parties. All communications are automated; students can accept their place at the tap of a button and instantly receive their admission certificate.
The university offers additional services to help international students with their move – including a welcome desk. Students can make appointments online for support with tasks like acquiring visas, accommodation, etc.– helping them to feel confident and supported from the beginning of their university experience.
Giving prospects a more valuable experience
Today, admissions are faster and more efficient, providing prospective students with a seamless journey from first contact.
“With Salesforce, we can offer prospects more value. When someone is choosing between universities, we’re more attractive because they feel well-informed and supported at every stage,” said Claire Boitard.
Thanks to real-time data and dashboards, monitoring trends and KPIs is easier for Université PSL – for example, the 37% increase in applications at Master’s level demonstrates that the school is more attractive to international students.
Next, the university is focusing on content creation. The team rolled out Marketing Cloud Account Engagement to nurture relationships with students, creating segmented leads and tailoring content for different audiences to be more relevant.
Early journeys include personalised campaigns based on student interests to help them make smarter choices and offer real help with orientation and the application process.
“Smarter email campaigns help us better target our communities. It’s a great investment to nurture long-term relationships with students and promote our brand,” said Didier Latour, CIO at the university. “Salesforce has changed our culture for the better. We have a more targeted way of working, and it will be our growth engine in the future.”
About Université PSL
One of the most exclusive universities in France, Université PSL is ranked among the top 50 higher education institutions in the world. Its long-established 11 colleges offer courses from humanities and sciences to engineering and communications to 17,000 students.