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Report: Trust in Higher Ed Institutions Increases, But Listening Strategies Need Improvement

In a new report, experience management company Qualtrics found that students, families, and alumni said their experiences at colleges and universities improved in 2022, making them likely to recommend these institutions. But 70% said institutions listening to and acting on feedback could use improvement. And less than half of employees felt that surveys would help improve their jobs.

Qualtrics surveyed more than 7,000 students, families, and alumni in 25 countries and more than 2,500 employees in 27 countries about their experiences in 2022 and compared the results to data from one year ago. Likelihood of recommending colleges and universities jumped from 72% to 77%. But based on the high percentage of dissatisfaction with how institutions listen to and use feedback, the report suggested that institutions should adopt the following strategies:

  • Establish multiple feedback streams so that consumers feel heard;
  • Build trust with equity-driven decisions;
  • Use institutional loyalty to improve brand reputation; and
  • Put community members first to improve satisfaction.

The report noted a "paradigm shift" happening among students and families, who have come to expect "education as a public service," which calls for institutions to do better to meet growing expectations. Listening strategies include adopting technology that can help analyze feedback and drive action, the report found. The same is true for the employee experience.

While faculty and staff also reported increased trust and satisfaction, 43% of them said they felt "emotionally drained from work," with 35% feeling at risk of burnout. Only 39% said they felt their pay was linked to their job performance, down from last year's data. Their suggestions were to do the following:

  • Align pay with performance;
  • Build trust by acting on feedback;
  • Reward employees who suggest innovations; and
  • Provide professional growth to avoid burnout.

"Thinking of education as a commodity is a long-standing taboo, but the cost of higher education is continuing to rise and student and family expectations for institutions are growing," said Lee Perlis, head of Industry Advisory for Education at Qualtrics. "This research shows that colleges and universities are at a critical crossroad in their relationship with stakeholders."

Visit the "2023 Education Experience Trends Report" page to download and read the full survey.

Qualtrics XM for Education serves more than 1,000 K–12 and higher education institutions around the world, conducting research to help improve student and employee experiences and meet changing needs and challenges in education.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.

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