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Delivering exceptional student experiences are key to student success

Universities are under increased pressure due to the student drop out crisis, the emergence of disruptive competition, changes in funding models as well as student behavior and expectations for a digital campus.

The effects of these challenges are already being realized as more than 15 colleges will close per year by 2020. In fact, Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen still stands by his prediction that half of American universities would close or go bankrupt in the next 10-15 years.

Higher education CIO’s are tasked to overcome this challenge by using technology to transform the student experience and increase graduation rates – while continuing to improve operational efficiency and save on costs. But under current conditions that is no mean feat. Dropout rates for American university students remain high. 30% of students who enrolled in college in 2014 did not return for the second year. 40% will fail to complete their 4-year degree in the next 6 years.

Universities must adapt to changing student expectations

As customer experience has changed the consumer world, the student experience is doing the same in higher education.

To meet student demands, traditional education models will no longer suffice. Universities will need to adopt newer models, and visionary CIOs are already driving this change.

Gartner found that close to half of higher education CIO’s that are already in the process of going through digital transformation are doing it to address newer student demands and expectations, counter competitive pressure and reduce costs.

At the core of digital transformation in universities lie two key outcomes - enhancing student experiences and improving institutional operations.

Redesigning for student centricity

To enhance student experiences, leading universities are focusing on student centricity. Any student-centric strategy will begin by questioning what students want. Forward-thinking institutions are turning to existing data for the answer.

Universities are in the fortunate position of already having a proliferation of data in both structured and unstructured formats. The challenge is in finding a way to collect it from multiple disconnected systems before storing and analyzing it. The data is then presented in meaningful ways for both university staff, to inform decision making, and students, in an improved, personalized experience.

But those who persevere are already beginning to reap the rewards.

Fordham University introduced a strategy to harness their student data that identified students at risk and is now seeing an incredible 91% of students staying on for a second year (the national average is 72%).

Improving institutional operations

Improving institutional operations requires universities to deal with legacy systems and large amounts of technical debt that limit data collection and sharing. Updating legacy systems is a time and cost consuming task that can roadblock transformation.

One way to deal with technical debt is to focus on strategies and tools that enable the interoperability of core systems. A digital experience platform (DXP) can help you find a way around siloed legacy systems instead of having to invest time and resources in a complete re-platforming of your systems. DXPs that focus on integration speed up transformation by;

  1. Surfacing data in siloed legacy systems, without having to re-platform in the short term.
  2. Connecting with best in class marketing tools and technology that help you analyze, test and optimize content as well as consolidate data to deliver personalized communications.
  3. Providing a centralized student datastore so that any student interaction can be collected and curated to enable more contextualized experiences for individual students.
  4. Simplifying the student experience. Students can access all the information they need to be successful from one central dashboard and transact without having to switch between different systems. An example of this is Griffith University’s 'myGriffith' portal which has improved the student experience by integrating with 22 different legacy systems and students can easily use on multiple devices.

An integrated DXP can accelerate your ability to deliver value to students by providing a centralized location for students to access information and transact without having to replace the systems your staff use in the back end. It enables you to gather better quality student data and also extract existing data within your organization in more meaningful ways.

The drop-out problem for universities is very real and external forces acting on the market are in no signs of letting up. Universities will continue to compete fiercely and the leaders will be those that leverage technology and focus on institutional sustainability, student success and student centricity.

At Squiz we believe in the power of technology to enable you to design, build and deliver personalized experiences for your students and employees.

From content management and powerful, intuitive search to personalized intranet services, we’ve been designing and delivering world-class digital systems, services and user experiences for more than 20 years.

Contact us today to learn how Squiz can help your institution.

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