How to Adapt to the New Challenges in Higher Education, Part 1
Author: Nick Van Haeften
Compare the rate of change in higher education pre-pandemic to the rate of change between 2019 and present-day. Like nearly every other industry and sector, higher ed was confronted with the need to quickly adapt to new challenges to remain competitive.
One of the main ways these challenges were met? Updating and expanding IT infrastructure.
However, as modern technology has become broadly adopted as a way of addressing issues and meeting goals — student, faculty, staff, alumni, and donor expectations have changed as well — which has created its own set of issues.
This is obviously an extensive topic to cover, so I’ll be reviewing it over the course of two blogs, where I will both outline modern higher education concerns and give advice about how these challenges can be met.
New Challenges in Higher Education
When you start looking into solution options, remember that various aspects of each challenge can be met by finding the right solution. This will help your organization achieve a better ROI.
Admissions and Recruitment:
Admissions and recruitment teams are dealing with an increase in global competition for a declining number of potential recruits, as well as lower budgets and overutilized staff. This is commonly referred to as “the enrollment cliff.”
Solution: Automation, better tools and task management support, personalization of outreach, and offering more communication options will make your institution easier and more pleasant to interact with — and go a long way in improving a student’s recruitment and admissions experience.
We have an entire blog about this topic, but it’s a good idea to get the basics right:
- A CRM geared towards higher education will help centralize important information for your teams to work from, reduce information silos, and give you a much better view of your recruitment funnel
- Which can help you identify and understand issues that are impacting enrollment
- Mobility and tools that streamline processes for prospects and students will increase your organization’s appeal — while saving time and resources for your staff
- Think dynamic portals, customized and branded communication and applications, and multi-channel support options; with easy review and management of applications, forms, and engagement for your teams
Student Support and Case Management:
The number of students needing financial, academic, and other forms of support has risen dramatically and has a direct impact on retention rates — as does the way student issues and concerns are addressed.
Solution: Make finding help, support, and resources easier. Think about this aspect of your higher education solution as customer support and take away any potential roadblocks.
- Make sure information is easy to find, make applications and forms intuitive, and make appointment scheduling straightforward
- Take away a student’s need to repeat information or explain previous interactions by centralizing data and making sure faculty, student services, or any support staff can access essential details in an intuitive way that guides them through necessary processes
- Self-service options, virtual student hubs, and the right communication plan can greatly reduce pressure on support staff, while ensuring students still receive the help they need
Building a Connected Campus:
Students, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders expect easy access to the information, resources, tools, and relevant systems needed to stay up to date and make managing their needs easier.
Solution: Think of building a connected campus as supporting stakeholders in a broader sense.
It’s not only about simplifying access to data — but increasing the amount of information and systems that are accessible — and meeting the needs of anyone that interacts with your higher education organization. For example, using a single log-in to:
- Sign up for campus tours, see enrollment deadlines, and submit applications as a prospect
- Pay tuition fees, connect with classmates, enter a virtual learning session, schedule an advisory meeting, put in a dorm maintenance request, check grades and degree progression, and get campus updates as a student
- Access information about their completed degree, connect with former classmates, get reunion information and organizational updates, and donate as an alumni
- Collaborate with colleagues, get relevant student information, track academic or task progress, manage events or projects, review analytics, and oversee compliance as faculty, staff, or administration
If you’re looking into solutions that can address multiple challenges, review your budget and priorities, and focus on setting up a solid foundation. Proper implementation, configuration, integration, and user-friendliness will make sure your investment goes further.
We highly recommend Salesforce Education Cloud if your organization has the resources to invest in a fully comprehensive solution out of the gate, but we have experience working with higher education organizations of all sizes, and part of that experience lies in ensuring our clients have a solution that fits both their needs and budget.
If you need help finding and implementing the right solution for your institution or need assistance planning your investment roadmap, contact us.
For more information about how to address modern higher education challenges, read the second blog in this series, reach out via the contact link above, or review the higher education solutions on our website.
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