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trends in student success

Trends in student success management - What’s the focus for CIOs in 2019?

It is a sobering fact that fewer than 6 in 10 university students who start their degree will finish it. Such an outcome represents a waste of money for the student as well as a societal investment in higher education which hasn’t paid off.

While many factors affect completion rates, universities have a clear challenge to improve the student experience, enabling more students to reach graduation.

Using technology, university leaders can transform the student experience and increase graduation rates – while continuing to improve operational efficiency and save on costs.

Let’s look at some of the trends facing the higher education sector and where they have an impact on student success and productivity.

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. Signing up students is only half the battle, retaining them is proving to be more difficult than initially thought.

As customer experience has changed the consumer world, student experience is doing the same in higher education. Institutions are increasingly facing pressure to retain students as funding shrinks and new education models emerge.

Institutions are required to reinvent the wheel to build an institution that is designed for student success. In order to achieve this, they will need to go back to the drawing board and adopt a student-centric strategy, one which acknowledges the changing nature of student demographics.

There is no longer a ‘traditional’ student - one who comes straight from high school, lives on-campus and studies full-time. Instead, increasing numbers of students are now studying part-time (30%), working full-time while enrolled (26%) or have children or other dependants (28%)

With that in mind, full-time, campus-based learning is no longer appropriate for a large proportion of students. Course participants now seek an education that is flexible and customizable to their individual needs.

The role of technology

Technology can help institutions to create new platforms that deliver personalized student experiences and enable students to succeed.

Essentially, the tools to equip students for success can be classified into two broad categories - tools which aid a student’s academic success and tools which aid the work of being a student.

Advancements in technology have ensured that institutions can deploy these tools without having to change their entire business or infrastructure model.

Take student data for example. In most cases, the data already exists within various, siloed systems across a complex IT environment. By building an integrated front-end using APIs, data can be brought together to inform and enhance decision-making.

Implementing alert systems to predict when students are struggling in a particular subject or having financial troubles empowers university staff to intervene at the right time to ensure student success.

Other examples of effective technology implementation for student success and operational efficiency include, but are not limited to:

  • Integration of systems to reduce complexity
  • The use of process automation to reduce manual admin
  • Front-end, self-serve portals to reduce costs and enhance student experience.

IT trends in higher education   

As the technological landscape changes rapidly, university leaders must be agile and informed on the current issues affecting their sector.

The five trends currently exerting the most influence on higher education’s IT strategy are:

  • The growing complexity of security threats
  • Ensuring student success
  • Data-driven decision-making
  • Increasing complexity of technology, architecture, and data
  • Contributions of IT to institutional operational excellence.

These trends highlight the need for technology-enabled innovation aimed at not only improving the digital experience for students but also at reducing costs, complexity and increasing efficiency as institutional funding shrinks.

In addition, many institutions are focusing on using technology and data as the enabler for increased flexibility, cost management and enhanced learning experiences for both traditional and non-traditional students.

What lies ahead

Certain technologies are on the cusp of moving from an experimental phase to widespread deployment.

APIs are institution-wide in 20% or fewer institutions in 2019 while they look to become universal (deployed institution-wide in 81-100% of institutions) by 2022. APIs are key building blocks in ensuring how systems talk and share data with each other.

Other trends on the rise include technologies for improving analysis of student data, predictive analytics for student success and integrated student success planning and advising systems - all moving from experimental phase in 2019 to becoming mainstream (deployed by 61-80% of institutions) by 2022.

As technology becomes central to the student experience and is embedded into all facets of an institution - from learning to research to business operations - leadership teams are now forced to include it in the overall organizational strategy.

However, their biggest challenge is to develop systems that not only deliver personalized experience for students but also provide workflows and analytics to equip employees to deliver services.

As the data shows, there is a clear shift in institutions realizing the potential for holistic, student-centric and technology-enabled platforms that enhance student experience.

It will be up to the institutions, with the help of their trusted technology partners, to create that seamless, cross-platform student experience which will be key to staying in the game.


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