Case Study | University of Adelaide

Simplified, compelling digital experience drives effortless student experience for ATAR enquiries

The Case

Established in 1874, the University of Adelaide is a proud member of Australia’s prestigious Group of Eight research intensive institutions, and is ranked in the world’s top 1% of universities. As a respected institution renowned for excellence in education and research, the University aims to inspire young leaders, drive research impact, and engage with the community.

In South Australia, Year 12 students need support when their adjusted Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), the number used to gain tertiary admission, is released on results day. Upon release of these results, students inundate the universities to which they’ve applied, asking if they are eligible to receive adjustment factors (bonus points). These adjustment factors can be the difference between securing the degree of their dreams or missing out.

Traditionally, the University would handle these enquiries via a combination of phone calls, emails and live chat. However, the calculation process was complex and labour intensive, making it difficult for staff to serve multiple students at any one time, a fact reflected in call centre hold times that would regularly exceed 40 minutes. In 2017, with results day looming and the current processes unable to address demand, the University wanted to develop a bot for adjusted ATAR calculation which would provide better support to applicants.


Respond to Huge Volume of ATAR enquiries

Enable the University to address the huge volume of student enquiries regarding ATAR scores on Results Day, in a timely way.

Improve Response Time

Improve the speed of response time to prospective student enquiries. Results day is a crucial day for students, they want the information as quickly and easily as possible.

Focus on complex enquiries

Allow University staff to focus on helping students that have more complex queries regarding their tertiary choices, rather than spending time calculating ATAR scores.


The University engaged Rubicon Red, in large part because of their proven ability to deliver compelling digital experiences. First port of call for Rubicon Red was to assess the requirements and user base. For the student demographic, their online and social media tendencies were considered, where it was determined that self-service was a key channel they access regularly. To minimise stress on results day, students want to access their adjusted ATAR information as quickly and easily as possible, ideally through a self-service channel they’re familiar with that delivers a seamless digital experience.

With these requirements in mind, Rubicon Red built a cloud-based, artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot using Oracle Digital Assistant. The chatbot infers a user’s question without having to hard-code every possible question. The chatbot was introduced on the University’s Facebook Messenger page, where prospective students could find out their adjusted ATAR scores in their own time, rather than sitting on hold in phone queues, or waiting for an email response. Key elements to the chatbot timeline included:

2017 Results Day

  • Chatbot pilot implementation
  • Agile design and development process
  • Chatbot accessed from University’s Facebook Messenger
  • Solution went live in just 4 weeks

2018 Results Day

  • New features added to improve on the pilot
  • Added new channel, the University Website
  • Implemented chatbot using Oracle Digital Assistant, which provides uncapped scalability at reduced cost


The ATAR chatbot delivered great results for the University and prospective students by delivering an enhanced student experience. Specific results include:


Service Centre Calls Slashed by 55%

In its pilot year the chatbot had 2,100 unique conversations, during peak hours incoming calls were slashed by 47% - from 1,200 to less than 640 – an overall call reduction of 40%. In 2018, these numbers were again reduced – 28% from the prior year. Since the bot’s implementation, calls on results day have been reduced by 55%.


Call Wait Time Cut by 13x

The use of the chatbot led to a significant drop in average wait time ~13x – falling from an average of 40 minutes to around 90 seconds. In 2018, the number of unique conversations with the bot rose to 3,678, a 42% increase in users from the previous year, with wait times again at an average of 90 seconds.


82% Rate Experience as Awesome

At the end of a chat, students were asked to rate their ‘experience’ as either ‘awesome, neutral, or terrible’. During the pilot, 60% of users rated their experience as ‘awesome’, which increased the following year to 82% of users rating their experience as ‘awesome’.

“Results Day is our busiest day of the year and assigning service agents to the various channels across the day requires agility and flexibility within our team. Overall, I was very pleased with our ability to cover all available channels – delivering an effortless customer experience in the moments that really matter,” said Catherine Cherry, Director, Prospect Management, University of Adelaide.


Since it’s inception on 2017 Results Day, the chatbot has provided students with a simplified digital experience through self-service channels - offloading general ATAR enquiries and allowing service centre staff to spend their time with students on more complex enquiries.


The Oracle-based chatbot solution provides out-of-the-box scalability to support future growth with the ability to scale services up or down, based on the University’s demands.


Students use a self-service approach to get the information they need, in their own time and from their preferred channels.

Productivity and better service

Staff productivity was improved. With the chatbot handling all the simple enquiries, staff were free to focus on providing high-level support to applicants, such as providing advice on alternative pathways to achieve their desired course selection.

Reduced costs

Reduced the costs associated with handling Results Day enquiries through ATAR Enquiry chatbot solution.

Delighted with the outcomes, Catherine Cherry, said, “During such a stressful and anxious time, we don’t want applicants having to wait on the phone in long queues to speak to us. It’s important that they can get their adjusted ATAR as quickly as possible and start discussing what their results mean for them with their families, friends and university of choice. Our adjusted ATAR chatbot means students no longer have to wait for long periods of time – during the busiest hours we have approximately one user every five seconds! Since implementation the response has been fantastic, with more than 82% rating their interaction as ‘Awesome’.”

Rubicon Red Approach

Rubicon Red adopts a customer-centred approach that embraces design thinking to understand the challenges and distil requirements with key stakeholders. During implementation, Rubicon Red uses an agile, product-centric, cloud native, DevOps based approach to deliver outcomes quickly, in a low risk and cost-effective way.


Rubicon Red adopted an agile, Product-Centric approach to deliver the chatbot pilot as an MVP in a very short timeframe – within 4 weeks – to address university requirements in time for 2017 results day. The 2018 release added a host of enhancements based on user feedback including an additional web channel, more extensive conversation flows and a platform upgrade to the Oracle Digital Assistant delivering uncapped scalability at reduced cost.

Cloud Native

An agile cloud native development approach was used to implement the ATAR Enquiry chatbot solution, leveraging containers and IaaS capabilities to secure and manage resources providing a highly scalable, recoverable and very low native host dependency. Oracle Management Cloud was used for monitoring and management to provide end-to-end visibility and tracking of the entire solution.


The team used a robust DevOps process to provide Continuous Integration/Continuous Development (CI/CD) of the backend implementation, and automated bot testing. This ensured that the chatbot implementation could manage changes effectively, and supported regression testing and deployments in very short timeframes.

Download Now

In Summary

The use of the ATAR chatbot at the University of Adelaide is a great testament to their continued commitment to provide compelling digital experiences that drive effortless student experiences. Rubicon Red is currently working with the University on a solution which will assist international students with queries relating to their eligibility to receive an offer at the University of Adelaide. The second chatbot is set to launch in June, 2019.

The University of Adelaide was recognised as a finalist in the Oracle Excellence Awards:
Oracle Cloud Platform Innovation – Transformational Technologies at Oracle Openworld, San Francisco, in October, 2018 for their innovative use of Oracle technology in the first release of the student ATAR enquiry chatbot.

Talk to Rubicon Red today and discover first hand, the potential to digitally enhance your own customer experiences, and learn how Rubicon Red can help you rapidly deliver an innovative approach to delighting your customers.
1300 799 959