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Why students need data-driven universities

Monday 2 December 2019 Data Insight & Analytics

By Nader Koder

As the needs of students are changing to adapt to the world around us, universities must adapt with them, creating new strategies to fulfil those needs. Here, we talk about some of the ways that universities are using data and business intelligence solutions to improve the student experience.

For years the National Student Survey has been asking final year students what they think about their courses. The answers they give produce data that informs a number of areas including course mixes, fees and teaching quality. Managers are looking at the data to enable smart decisions and monitor the effectiveness of decisions they make.

This survey and all of the other data collected across the institution, enables universities make efficient and effective decisions to implement changes aimed at improving and enhancing the student experience.

Responding to student needs

With a number of different points of feedback such as the NSS, the student union, and student engagement programs, universities have a better opportunity than ever before to align their strategy with what students are looking for from their higher education path.

By ensuring students’ needs are delivered, the experience improves, and universities also improve their position when future students are looking at their options.

This comes at a time when students are taking on an increased financial burden for their studies, and so to remain competitive in a market of online and apprenticeship options, institutions must invest wisely in the right infrastructure, teaching and career support.

Student outcomes and support

Some universities are introducing assessment tools that help students see what they need to do to progress from a 2.1 to a first, and to help support struggling students. Through these data analytics tools, staff and faculty can react quickly in identifying students at risk of not completing courses and provide additional support to those students to support success.

Other universities are improving their careers service support due to the increased pressure students are reporting in finding work after university.

In addition to this, universities are changing what’s on offer in order to support students with their careers. By using their data to review modules and course mix, they can ensure they provide maximum value and opportunities for students once they graduate.

Through modelling systems that show potential course mixes, they can implement the right combination, making smart educational and financial adjustments for the best outcome.

Changing the course mix through understanding the student needs can support reduced drop-out rates and improve the influx of new students from the improved results.

Student campus life

A key aspect of the student experience is of course, the campus itself and the facilities available.

Many universities have been gradually changing and improving their campuses to offer a more agile and collaborative space. This makes work easier, allows for flexible learning and keeps students more engaged even when they are outside of lectures.

Within the campus, facilities are evolving too; with overhauls including new halls of residence, new teaching blocks, and new requirements such as student social health facilities.

When it comes to the campus safety, universities must put student welfare front of mind. While this has always been a priority, universities now deal with a greater variety of incidents than in years prior and are also under higher scrutiny to show how they tackle these often-difficult issues. Where this is the case, prevention is the most effective form of dealing with safety. By bringing the various data points together (staff and faculty reports, student reports, health, campus security), universities are more able to remedy any gaps, and also to see real-time insight on risks and everyday campus safety – enabling efficient decision making and intervention when it’s needed.

A Compelling Argument

The case for using business intelligence solutions in higher education is undoubtedly a compelling one as institutions strive to meet student expectations, improve results and rise to the challenges of the ever-changing industry.

By using these solutions, the opportunity to evolve into an outcomes-based institution, using reporting models that enable them to identify trends and understand student engagement, ultimately is a model for university and student success.

Later in our Higher Education series we’ll look in more detail at specific improvements data solutions can bring to areas such as student drop out rates, support for students experiencing mental health issues, and more.

CACI works with higher and further educational institutions across the UK to deliver solutions tailored to improving student outcomes. 

As the needs of students are changing to adapt to the world around us, universities must adapt with them, creating new strategies to fulfil those needs. Here, we talk about some of the ways that universities are using data and business intelligence solutions to improve the student experience. For years the National Student Survey has been asking final year students what they think about their courses. The answers they give produce data that informs a number of areas including course mixes, fees and teaching quality. Managers are looking at the data to enable smart decisions and monitor the...

Why students need data-driven universities