College and university leaders are facing increased financial pressure and complexity as enrollment growth slows, and traditional classrooms are evolving into remote locations that extend beyond the confines of a main campus. At the same time, faculty and staff retention poses a challenge for higher education institutions — in fact, 2017 LinkedIn data ranked education among the top five industries with the highest employee turnover rates.
As institutions work to make the most of their increasingly limited resources and protect their student-first mission, technology can tip them over the competitive edge. Administrators who are running up against expanding classrooms, tighter budgets and lower headcounts need technology not only to simplify their job functions, but also create more connected campuses.
Deploying more progressive technology solutions in higher education institutions streamlines campus and finance operations to create cost savings. In addition, they will be able to address emerging priorities, such as ensuring the safety of their students, faculty and staff located both on and off campus in the event of an emergency.
5 Upgrades to Help Universities Retain Students and Faculty
The evolving higher education landscape is more complex than ever before. To successfully meet these growing demands and boost enrollment rates for generations to come, institutions should be looking at the larger impact that investment in technology can have as a faculty and staff retention tool.
These top five proactive strategies can strengthen technology investments for colleges and universities:
Automate Paper-Based Workloads: Tasks that require manual input are time-consuming and repetitive, but they don’t have to be. Paper-based processes can typically be automated through more intuitive technologies, such as artificial intelligence. Automation frees up faculty and staff time, so they can focus instead on student interaction and curriculum development. The data bears this out: A study from “The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018” shows that 62 percent of millennials, the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, believe automation will improve productivity. These technologies are already making their way into higher education institutions to support admissions, financial aid, advancement and athletics.
Embrace Mobile-Friendly Platforms: Your students demand and expect mobile access to nearly everything, so faculty and staff need to continue to adopt mobile in their day-to-day as well. Whether they’re on-campus or abroad, mobile-friendly platforms are configured to provide a greater user experience, as they keep all information stored in one central location. This can ultimately help faculty and staff from feeling overwhelmed, while also fostering greater efficiency, organization and collaboration across departments.
Invest in Collaborative Tools: Administrative departments within higher education face challenges communicating effectively across working groups, which hinders daily productivity. To empower college and university staff to do more in these environments, administrators should expand communication tools from basic technologies like email and explore collaborative solutions that deploy application programming interfaces, which let faculty and staff seamlessly complete tasks such as booking group conferences or research trips, and even submitting expense receipts through instant messaging.
Improve Traveler Safety: With increased enrollment in study abroad programs, academic conferences and international program development in other countries, colleges and universities have a real responsibility to ensure their students, faculty and staff remain safe always. This level of security and support is both a best practice and gives individuals peace of mind when participating in institution-sponsored programs. In the coming year, higher education IT departments should seek out integrated tools that tap into real-time data, so they have a surefire way of identifying and communicating with faculty, staff and students at a moment’s notice should an emergency ever take place.
Don’t Underestimate User Experience: The cloud has lowered the barrier of entry for application development and adoption, meaning that consumers, college and university faculty and staff have grown accustomed to using simple and personalized technologies in their daily lives. They expect the same experience at their respective institutions, but all too often, error-prone or difficult to use applications can negatively impact their overall experience and satisfaction with the systems in use. As a result, it is imperative that IT and financial decision-makers strongly consider usability and simplicity when making future investments in technology.
The next year will serve as an important inflection point for higher education institutions across the nation. By tapping into these technology strategies and investing in available resources, administrators will not only give their schools a competitive edge but will introduce greater transparency and compliance behind the scenes to improve institutional success in these financially stressful times in higher education.