Digitisation by degrees

How the world’s leading universities exert a balance of technology transformation and human connection to deliver a pathway for success

Student experience improvements that align with real-world requirements

In November 2019, TechnologyOne hosted its inaugural Global Mobility Program, providing our UK customers with an opportunity to visit top Australian tertiary institutions to see how they are transforming their businesses to improve the student experience. As part of this program, TechnologyOne hosted a roundtable with leading universities across Australia and the UK where the discussion found that ‘technology for technology’s sake’ is not widely employed by institutions across Australia and the United Kingdom. Human involvement is still recognised as vital to the provision of an optimal student experience and for many, the key lies in doing more with less.

Not so long ago, there was a general expectation that higher education would inevitably move to a completely online delivery model, where the advent of super-fast internet would render on-campus attendance pointless and the doors to learning opportunity would be flung open to everyone, everywhere around the globe. Of course, it hasn’t quite transpired that way, and seems unlikely to, with a 2019 survey of currently enrolled university students suggesting that a blend of online and on-campus is still the ideal learning approach for most.

Today’s digital natives expect seamless, reliable access to course materials, exam results and other administrative elements, like prior learning recognition and timetable-building capability.

For any university focused on delivering a superior student experience, this is often the first technology priority port of call, but increasingly, these institutions are recognising the power of blending human interaction with technology to facilitate a highly personalised outcome for each student.

What is often described as digital disruption is fundamentally about personalisation. This is evident with many of our customers, for example, Swinburne University who has reimagined the enrolment process for students by reducing the number of steps, thus allowing their experience to be optimised at a pivotal time.

Read more about Swinburne’s program to improve the on boarding experience.

Other institutions, such as La Trobe University, offer students a choice between self-service and personal contact, allowing the student to select their preference. ASK La Trobe continues to be a sector wide leader in personalising student engagement, not only for international and current students but also for prospective ones.

Chat bots aren’t always the answer

Whereas some industry sectors and transaction types lend themselves to a completely digital framework, higher education still benefits from personal interaction throughout the entire student lifecycle. Some transactions require virtually no human connection to facilitate – buying an insurance policy online, for example, is a straightforward exercise requiring little extra input beyond responses to routine questions. When further assistance is needed, a chat bot can generally provide guidance and keep the process moving along to conclusion.

Higher education doesn’t quite work that way. While significant efficiency improvements are realised through application of technology in student management systems, most universities still recognise the value of leaving room in the chain for some human interaction.

The key to success, according to our roundtable participants, is harnessing the power of the vast amounts of data provided by an enterprise software solution and utilising it effectively.

For many, this means using data to determine what information empowers institutions to provide better support through clear understanding of each student’s requirements. From an IT perspective, the data is the enabler, with a human element remaining critical in pulling the threads together to coherently apply these learnings in a way that delivers an engaging student experience.

“Higher education still benefits from personal interaction throughout the entire student lifecycle.”

Human connection

Humans are, by nature, social beings, so it’s not surprising that on-campus learning remains a favoured delivery model, despite the universal availability of fast internet. With the whole-life student experience in mind, institutions uniformly seek to find the balance between the human and digital experience.

The relationship between learner and institution extends beyond a smooth administrative process brought about by effective technology implementation. It equally involves one-on-one engagement with peers and teachers – by utilising available data to inform the best path forward for each student. That process begins long before classes have started, thanks to a solid technology foundation. Higher education is a journey, with the ultimate endpoint being successful employment in a chosen field. A continued focus on human interaction at the university level better positions students to cope in the real world once they’ve graduated, something the sector sees as a crucial element in the overall learning experience.

Beyond universal availability of course resources and materials, today’s students demand uniformity across all course touch points and interactions. Investment in technologies that foster a consistent experience throughout the entire student lifecycle will better position institutions to attract, retain and ultimately deliver on their desire to offer the best possible student outcomes.

Contact Us Agent - TechnologyOne

Have a question?

If you would like more information, we are here to help.