How Higher Education Can Meet Changing Student Expectations
By: Vincent Salvato, Senior Director, Huron Consulting Group
As student demographics are changing, so are the expectations that colleges and universities offer programs that fit different lifestyles and technology options that improve the student experience.
Throughout the higher education landscape, we are seeing more post-traditional learners who are pursuing an education while balancing work and life responsibilities. The latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that the number of part-time students rose 15 percent between 2005 and 2015, and is projected to continue to rise. Additionally, the age of students in higher education is changing. Since 2005, the number of students enrolling in degree-granting postsecondary institutions over the age of 25 increased by 13 percent.
As these demographic changes continue to evolve, students are searching for an educational experience to match their lifestyle. Students who are juggling work, life, and school need flexible access to course materials, administrative functions and the campus community. As a result, they want options that enable them to acquire the skills and knowledge they need, accommodate their lifestyles and promise career opportunities at the end.
Fortunately, many colleges and universities are recognizing this and adapting their operations – most notably in the form of cloud technologies. In a recent survey of higher education IT decision makers, 73 percent reported that their institutions have already begun transitioning to the cloud. Of these institutions who migrated to the cloud, they reported the following top five ways students (and institutions) benefit from cloud technology like Education Cloud:
- Easier access to courses, learning materials and other university applications via the cloud
- More efficient administrative processes (such as financial aid, enrollment, etc.)
- More opportunities for online classes and the ability to reach diverse populations
- Improves the reputation of the institution, positioning it as innovative
- Easier for institutions to identify at-risk students with real-time data
The student demand for these changes is real. Students are increasingly adopting a consumer-minded approach to education and “shopping” for a college that offers a modern and technologically seamless experience. Access to information anywhere at any time is the new norm. And for institutions without that capability, students are going elsewhere, or finding workarounds to create the experience they want and need.
Apps such as Power Planner, which helps students keep track of their schedules and GPAs, and iHomework, designed to track student assignments and projects, replicate services that could have been part of a university’s cloud solution. And while these student-created alternatives seemingly address learners’ short-term needs, they also pose a risk to colleges and universities trying to create a connected campus with holistic, long-term strategies for their institutions.
Adopting cloud-based systems is an imperative for higher education institutions seeking to remain competitive on every level. Today’s applications have the capacity to transform your institution, improving the student and faculty experience while delivering critical operational efficiencies for staff. Colleges and universities are recognizing that the learner experience is influencing technology decisions and guiding the future of higher education. When institutions shift their offerings to match the shift in student demographics and their expectations, they are in closer alignment with their vision and mission.
Since student expectations and technology are driving significant changes in higher education, forward-thinking institutions are moving to the cloud to meet these demands more effectively and with fewer resources. By capitalizing on the benefits of cloud technology, higher education institutions can improve the overall student experience. Cloud services, when implemented effectively, ensure that the university of the future exceeds student expectations and empower student success.
Students want to own their educational experience and cloud technology enables them to do so. Cloud platforms present colleges and universities with an opportunity to reach a new pool of students, support personalized learning and increase collaboration.
What are other universities doing to create a more student-centered experience? Learn how 8 higher ed trailblazers are transforming the student journey in this e-book.
About the Author
Vincent Salvato is responsible for helping higher education organizations find opportunity to make the most of technology. He works with sales teams to create account strategies as well as architect solutions, develop presentations, and deliver Salesforce projects ranging in duration from a few months to multi-year implementations. Vincent also works with the Salesforce.org product development team, helping to develop strategies for existing and upcoming product offerings (e.g. HEDA and Salesforce Advisor Link).
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