With the number of students dropping out of UK Universities approaching 10%, the retention and satisfaction of students is a key focus for further and higher education. Want to get greater insight into your students and improve student success? Follow our top five tips and see how…
1) Predicate, analyse and act – The science bit
The premise is a simple one. Track student activity, collect it in a system and analyse the trends and patterns, then act on what you see. Combine ‘human intelligence’ with an advanced predictive analytics system that can automatically track and predict behaviour. Also, digitise your access passes, library systems, communities, VLEs and social activities to track the level of engagement a student has with your university or college systems. Use your system to provide you with alerts and alarm bells that quickly identify students who might be at risk of not completing their course, or where a student might be struggling, such as preparation for HE, engagement, or academic or social integration.
Identifying students at risk and intervening early will undoubtedly reduce the number of potential students dropping out, and importantly, reduce lost revenue.
2) Realising that success is in the eye of the beholder
We often hear of ‘evaluation’, ‘performance’, and ‘growth’ as indicators to success, or graduation rates, test scores, acceptance figures as outcomes. But educational and personal success are often more emotional than that. And to understand it, you have to look at the people behind the static.
When thinking of the psychology of success, we often talk of ‘fulfilling our potential’. But how is a college, university, or the students themselves able to understand what potential there is for the taking? After all, potential is unknown and ‘unknowable’.
The only way we can truly measure success is to understand what success looks like in the eye of the ‘success beholder’ of which there are many – the student, the learning provider, the tutor or assessor, the dependable community… and all will view success differently. Setting goals of your own and understanding others’ goals is the only way to measure whether ‘success’, was a success or not. Captivate a learner’s interest and manage their goals (rather than a prescribed ‘pass or fail’). Peak their interest in learning to understand, rather than learning to pass the criteria.
3) Services that surprise (in a good way)
Students are taking a more consumerist approach to further and higher education, with student and supporter expectations significantly higher than before. Delivering a personalised, tailored student experience and providing students with the high quality service they’ve come to expect as a paying customer, will help to improve overall student satisfaction and linkages to engagement. Engaging with students on the platforms and devices they want to use, providing portals that deliver a personalised, tailored student experience, and providing 24/7 support will go a long way in ensuring that students remain in touch with the university or college.
4) Understand your limitations
Howard Gardner is quoted as saying that exceptional people have “a special talent for identifying their own strengths and weaknesses.” If you don’t currently have the technology in place to effectively manage your chosen strategy, don’t be afraid to call upon that that do.
Use a support platform that integrates with your student information system to provide you with a seamless experience. Put the student at the heart of your support services. From automatically creating support tickets with relevant teams to ensure speedy resolution, to social media platform integration, give your students the support they need and aim to support them as efficiently as possible.
From recruitment through to employment, that single view of your student is so important. Creating and tracking interventions that improve student retention and success will ultimately, improve your revenue and targets.
5) People act, spreadsheets inform
Having all of the data in the world is useless if you don’t have the people to act on it. Statistics, graphs and survey responses are meaningless unless they are used to pioneer change and drive improvement. Plan your data management teams around driving improvement, rather than proving success. Show your students that you are not afraid of change and transformation, and you are listening to what they tell you.
Interested in student services success? Download our latest research paper below which explores student services within the further and higher education landscapes.