The very nature of Higher Education, how it is delivered and the role of institutions in society and the economy is changing, and will continue to change significantly in the next decade. Universities are competing globally for students, academics and funding, and only those that stay relevant and leverage new digital capabilities will benefit in this digital age.
Digital is here and it’s here to stay. For example, always connected mobile devices are widespread, social media is the primary communication channel for man, new cloud computing capabilities allow for the creation of new tools and products at an accelerated rate, geolocation sensors create new tracking and targeting opportunities, digital is now the first choice for media consumption – and the list goes on. This disruption is impacting and changing Higher Education and academia and the change is set to continue.
While digitisation is creating changes that higher education must respond to, it can also help universities adapt to new business models. For example, digitisation can provide support for changing management and staffing models. Schools can use advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to come up with new workforce and staffing structures. Ideas for improving finances include changing the model to create automated support and use shared support staff.
Higher Education institutions can use also Big Data to shape their models and reduce costs for students. For example, many students go to college longer than they need to, but technology can reduce this problem. Big Data can show these institutions, advisors, and educators when students are struggling so they can provide timely solutions. They can also create customised paths for students through new systems. Measures like these improve success rates and help students go through education faster, which can streamline the system and reduce tuition costs for students in general.
Universities can also use technology to compete with online education alternatives. For example, they can create a blended learning experience that uses both classroom and mobile learning. This increases flexibility while also offering benefits of an in-person experience and the credentials of established institutions. They can also offer a progressive learning experience enhanced by technology and advancements. Further, universities can use data and predictive insight to improve operations and management. This can help institutions keep up with changes and remain competitive.
In summary students have become customers who bring their own digital world expectations to university. These customers are more savvy, better connected and more vocal than ever. Many have preconceived ideas of how universities will engage directly with them and what outcomes they can expect in return for their investment. Students increasingly see universities as the main means of securing their future employment rather than simply learning and self-development. The value proposition for universities is therefore changing and this means that employability and the student experience is more critical than it has ever been.