Welcome to our brand-new student experience series! Over the next few months, we will be publishing weekly episodes about the latest trends, best practices, tips, tricks, and other insights regarding the general experience for university students.
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In this episode, we will continue where we left off in episode 1. Now that we’ve identified that collecting data is crucial, we’ll help you make better use of the student's voice to improve the student journey! Sounds cool right, but what does that mean? We essentially mean; how can we successfully analyze the data we’ve just collected to implement new changes using the student's voice? Seems obvious, but we’ve identified some major problems along the way that can make this implementation challenging.
The biggest challenge? Be fast. This generation of students is expecting fast and efficient improvements (especially since social media has pushed students into a mindset that everything should be fast and easy to comprehend).
Firstly, not all higher educational institutions are as digitalized as they would ideally like to be. Data may be coming in from lots of sources, but compiling this data into one simple, manageable platform is complex (many universities have a complicated Excel sheet hidden away in a folder somewhere), which makes identifying trends difficult. A study completed by StudentPulse showed that 61% of employees working within the student journey think it is difficult to act on their current data, despite having relevant insight. As data sets are likely to only become bigger and more complex, research the market to find solutions that can help you compile and analyze all this data.
Secondly, not being able to act upon student feedback poses a large challenge for Student Unions (SU’s) and for other elected representatives. The role of most SU’s is literally to represent the students as best as they can. However, when you are not even sure what students expect you to represent them for, bringing about change successfully becomes even more challenging. As most elected positions only last a year, there is the additional difficulty that there is only limited time to understand, develop and launch new initiatives & programs to support student needs. As the student population is becoming more and more diverse, it may even be that you end up identifying 8-9 problems that require attention (and so there is no time to lose).
Lastly, student feedback is not used effectively enough to improve academic performance, student well-being, and social activities during the academic year. Although we may think that these are three different areas, they are very interlinked. For instance, solving a well-being issue may also result in better academic performance and social activity. As the saying goes; a happy student is a good student, so make sure you know how to keep them happy.
As a solution to this challenge, we suggest the following three things.
As we understand this can be a massive challenge, we recommend starting with the following step (which will hopefully help you create a bit more overview).
Map out our students' journey at the institution, and how you currently are supporting the student journey. Who is involved, how are they involved and what is missing? This will help you to create a first version of what interaction points students have with the university. Don’t forget to include the SU’s (and other relevant organizations) as much as possible and look at technological platforms that can support you with this.