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What makes for a great student experience?

9 Apr 2014, by Informa Insights

As the higher education sector around the world continues to develop, it’s important to realise the evolving role of tertiary institutions in modern society.

While the key objective for these organisations is still the same – to provide a world-class education – students today are no longer heading to university just to sit in lectures. Rather, university is now seen as a complete ‘experience’, one that enriches the lives of students in more ways than mere academic learning.

That is why universities across the globe are now focusing on enhancing the experience they can provide their prospective students. It’s not just about engaging students and keeping them interested in their studies either – if a university can build a reputation around an exceptional student experience, this can act as a very effective selling point when attracting new students.

There are a range of factors that go behind creating a great student experience – however, any university can begin by looking at four of the most critical components listed below.

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

1. Engagement is key
In the increasingly competitive nature of the education sector, universities are having to take a more commercial approach to their operations than ever before.

Students are no longer just individuals who attend a university for the purpose of learning – they are increasingly seen as customers and, in the cutthroat world of business where clients are regularly won and lost, customer engagement is key.

Engagement is therefore a vital consideration for universities to ensure their students remain satisfied and motivated with their studies and to reduce the risk of dropout. But what exactly does student engagement entail?

It involves keeping students fully engaged not only with their studies, but with life at university in general. By offering a range of innovative course delivery methods as well as plenty of extracurricular activities and initiatives, a university can keep its students happy and motivated to learn.

2. Remember to give students a voice
Another area in which universities can learn from business is that it’s crucial to give the customer – or the student – a voice. Providing a good experience is all about listening to your students’ needs and letting them have a say in how the university is run.

Universities have to make sure they maintain regular lines of communication with students, identifying their main concerns and unmet needs. A range of channels can be used to facilitate this, from surveys to student unions and boards that act as a link between the student body and the university.

Commercial objectives aside, a university is still a community that should have the best interests of the students in mind, so make sure they can provide input into the experience they desire.

Higher Education Summit3. It’s not all about study
University will be a life-defining period for many students’ lives, and most will want to make sure they graduate with memories that extend beyond the confines of the lecture theatre.

Keep in mind that academics form just one part of the total student experience. Balance is crucial in the often stressful lives of students – and it’s important they have the opportunity to pursue other interests on top of their studies.

Encouraging the formation of student clubs and groups will help ensure students have a wide range of extracurricular activities to engage in and break up the monotony of study.

4. Make the most of technology
Just like businesses, the universities that provide the best experience are the ones that know how to make the most of modern technology.

Advances in technology, especially in the communications sphere, have driven innovations in education and offered numerous new avenues through which to deliver teachings. From online-based classrooms to remote lectures, technology must be a part of any good tertiary education strategy.


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