The University of Derby implement Horizon Contact for a successful University Clearing

The Clearing process can be an intense time for any educational institution. It’s a period that requires robust technology and a steady flow of communication between prospective students and the institution. For the University of Derby, achieving this seamless communication was crucial, and they sought a resilient and robust platform that could meet their requirements. The University’s Lead Infrastructure Engineer & Network Team Leader, Mark Bettridge, understood the gravity of the situation.

“We needed a resilient and robust platform that would allow us to design and map out the call flows that we needed for our Clearing operation,” Bettridge explained. “This meant the solution needed to be capable of supporting upwards of 150 agents at any one time and have no limitations on concurrent inbound calls as well as allowing our Clearing agents to make outbound calls locally, nationally and internationally.”

The robust platform also had to deliver actionable insights. The University needed to quickly assess and adapt to changing call volumes, ensuring that prospective students received prompt responses to their queries.

“The ability to report on phone line usage quickly and effectively was also key as we needed to be able to adapt and change our Clearing agent assignments around to meet the demands of different phone lines so that busy phone lines were being answered without callers having to wait in a queue,” Bettridge added.



Building a reliable partnership with a vendor to handle such high volume and complex periods like Clearing isn’t a task for the faint-hearted. It necessitates trust, a factor that Bettridge emphasised.

“The move to Gamma Horizon Contact for Clearing 2022 was the start of a brand new relationship with Gamma, so it really was a case of building up trust between us (the customer) and Gamma (the supplier) straight away. That way, we could be confident in both the solution and having confidence in Gamma’s ability to deal with any technical issues that could arise during the Clearing period, which is an extremely important time for our prospective students,” he said.

Preparing for Clearing with the University of Derby

Smooth transition

The result of this new partnership was a streamlined Clearing operation. Bettridge notes that the transition to the Horizon Contact solution was smooth, with users quickly adapting to the new system.

“Clearing 2022 went extremely smoothly with the users of the system being able to get to grips very easily with the Horizon Contact solution, which was impressive given this was the very first year that Clearing had been run using anything other than the traditional Cisco Jabber or physical phone solutions,” Betteridge said.

This successful transition wasn’t just about ease-of-use for the Clearing agents; it was also about seamless administration. Bettridge elaborates:

“As administrators of the solution we were also able to make any required changes such as changing the role of an agent and opening and closing various call queues quickly and easily

without interrupting any ongoing calls between our hotline staff, academics and prospective students.”


The collaborative relationship between the University of Derby and Gamma proved beneficial not only in the implementation of the new system but also in handling technical issues that arose.

“The customer experience with the technical teams within Gamma and UoD was superb, with answers to our technical queries coming through quickly and where there wasn’t an outright solution to our needs, workarounds and alternatives were suggested,” Bettridge noted.

This collaboration went beyond problem-solving. It permeated every stage of the project.

“The collaboration between UoD and Gamma – from the point of quoting through to the point of implementing and supporting the system throughout go-live day – was very good and involved a number of calls where ideas were considered, and options proposed where better alternatives were available,” Bettridge recounted.

It's all in the preparation

The new system didn’t just improve the Clearing process; it also resulted in cost savings and improved administrative functions.

“Cost saving, ease of use – the ability to use the solution from anywhere rather than being tied to being on-prem or on-domain, simplified administration of the calling platform and improved visibility of the call flows,” Bettridge said, highlighting the benefits of the new solution.

The success of Clearing 2022 boosted the University’s confidence in Gamma. They not only intend to continue their partnership for the upcoming Clearing years but also plan to expand Gamma’s role in their telecommunications infrastructure.

“The success of the Clearing 2022 project gave us great confidence in Gamma to be able to meet our technical needs with the partnership continuing for Clearing 2023 and 2024. In addition to this following a full tender process to renew our University phone system from this year onwards, Gamma has been successful in also being selected as the chosen provider for the Microsoft Teams Operator Connect phone solution. Going forward, we will be building on the successful relationship originally established during the Clearing project,” Bettridge said.

Bettridge attributes the success of the Clearing project to thorough preparation and robust testing.

“All the requirements were provided up front, which allowed solution build and testing time into the solution quoting so that there was plenty of time to build up the call flows as needed, test them and troubleshoot any technical or process snags,” he explained.

Summing up the experience, Bettridge reiterated the University’s confidence in Gamma’s ability to meet their technical needs.

“The success of the Clearing 2022 project gave us great confidence in Gamma to be able to meet our technical needs with the partnership continuing for Clearing 2023 and 2024,” he said.