Research

Report: Most Colleges and Universities Have Changed Org Structure to Support Student Success

Nearly three-quarters, 73 percent, of higher education institutions have changed their organizational structure to support student success initiatives in the last two years, according to a new report from ed tech provider Unit4.

The report is based on a survey of 150 IT decision makers in higher education, most of whom were CIOs, CTOs and VPs or directors of IT or technology, according to information released by the company.

Retention initiatives were the most commonly cited student support measures that lead to organizational change, according to respondents, with course completion rates and time-to-graduation following, student experiences and services coming in next and job placement and employability coming in fourth.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 81 percent of respondents said their institution had invested in technology to support student success efforts;
  • 24 percent said they had changed enrollment practices to better target students who best fit their institution, even if it reduces overall enrollment counts;
  • A little more than a third, 37 percent, said they use data and analytics in student success initiatives, but 60 percent said they use automation in core systems for alerts and action plans for at-risk students;
  • 40 percent said they expect student success to be the main reason behind replacing their student information system (SIS) in the next two years;
  • More than half of respondents, 56 percent, said they'd deployed their current SIS in the last year or two, while 20 percent said it was deployed in the last five-seven years and 14 percent said their SIS was older than 15 years;
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems tended to be older, according to respondents, with only 9 percent saying they'd deployed theirs in the last two years and 25 percent indicating it was deployed more than 15 years ago;
  • 20 percent of respondents said more than half of their new tech was custom developed, rather than an off-the-shelf application, 63 percent said that less than half of their new technology was custom and 15 percent said none of it was;
  • 62 percent of those surveyed said they had recently overhauled portals, self-service options or apps to improve the student experience; and
  • Most respondents, 52 percent, said they don't know if they use their constituent relationship management (CRM) system to support student success initiatives, with 28 percent saying they do and 19 percent saying they do not.

"Higher education institutions are investing more in enterprise technology than they have in the last two decades, but there's a long way to go," said Jami Morshed, global head of education at Unit4, in a prepared statement. "They need to make actionable sense of the raft of data and information they produce, embrace new technology innovations and strive for efficiencies while delivering better student service. The fact that today, over one in five of those we surveyed have not modernized their student mobile experience, and have no automation in their core systems to support early-alerts for at-risk students is deeply concerning. To truly close the student-college digital divide, organizations need to embrace digital transformation, through integrated modern cloud applications that support a truly mobile strategy, delivering new services and value to students and faculty."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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