The students of the present and future expect seamless digital experiences. By now, this is a truism in almost every industry. But for a number of reasons, higher education lags behind other sectors in terms of uptake and implementation of digital infrastructure. Our own research showed that university students ranked their university lives as the least digitally integrated part of their daily lives, behind travel and banking.
That’s bad news for institutions, but it’s also an opportunity for more forward-thinking ones to pull ahead of their competitors by deepening and accelerating their digital transformation efforts. The benefits of digital transformation go beyond cost reduction and system efficiency – digital solutions are now integral to any successful student retention strategy. In this article, we’ll discuss four of the ways that doing so boosts student retention.
Curating the digital experiences that students expect
For the digital native generation – the one that has now entered adulthood – traditional or legacy systems are foreign and alienating. Justifiably, they expect their higher learning experiences to be as efficient and convenient as online banking, and as engaging as social media. From our own research, we know that 87% of students want to be able to manage their entire educational journey within one easily accessible system. And 41% of them would be far more willing to recommend their institutions to friends and peers if digitization was smoother and more modern. Student information systems can enable that, by simulating the natural language conversational environment for enhanced student communication.
These technologies solve problems at both ends of the spectrum. For private institutions seeking to drive enrolment, sophisticated SIS solutions offer a way to thrive amidst intensifying competition for students For oversubscribed institutions, this technology provides tools to help attract the type of student who will stay the course and continue into postgraduate programmes.
Integrating non-traditional and hybrid student journeys
Non-traditional students constitute a growing share of global higher education. This is a major growth market for institutions. While most universities are now able to facilitate remote learning, not all of them are able to offer a blend of traditional, mico and continuous learning courses to meet course requirements.
All too often, non-traditional student life is a reluctant bolt-on. University administration systems tend to focus exclusively on the brick and mortar campus, leaving the virtual campus to exist awkwardly on the side. These students, who are already shouldering additional lifestyle burdens, or trying to juggle employment with their studies, have to contend with frustrating and cumbersome processes.
Globally-minded institutions who implement more robust, digital solutions are likely to win over more and more of this market.
Empowering students and faculty with deeper communication
There are many factors that drive student attrition in higher education. Administrative lag and cumbersome internal processes certainly play a part. But a lack of engagement with educators and mentors is arguably even more important. Within a traditional management framework, this is an insoluble problem, because the teacher/student ratio is set to worsen as the demand for higher education increases year on year. Already overburdened faculty at institutions with legacy systems may try to do their best, but without adequate institutional support, their efforts will continue to come up against hard limits.
Only next-generation student information systems can actually meet this challenge. A cloud-based SIS for higher education can provide a range of powerful tools to bridge the growing chasm between educators and students. For example, data analytics tools can provide staff with a granular picture of student performance and flag at-risk students. This enables faculty to make strategic decisions about which students need additional support, and allocate resources accordingly. Crucially, this can all happen much faster, because all relevant stakeholders are drawing from a single source of data.
Students themselves can flag issues and communicate their concerns without having to navigate university administration or wait for their requests to be processed through bloated bureaucratic structures. Students who feel heard and understood are less likely to withdraw for reasons that can be remediated with timeous and strategic support.
Edu365: the Student Information System of choice for global institutions
Optimizing legacy institutions for a digital future can be an arduous process, but it doesn’t have to be. At Fusion the Apps People, we have combined an intimate knowledge of higher education with leading edge expertise as an Independent Software Vendor to create Edu365: a comprehensive student information system that is helping institutions the world over to move the dial on digital transformation. In the process, our clients are providing deeper, richer experiences for their students, from application to graduation, and enjoying the benefits of improved student retention.
Edu365 could be exactly what your institution needs to reduce attrition and gain a competitive edge in the market for mobile, digital savvy students. Contact us here for more information on Edu365.