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Future-proofing your education institution: changing your culture to enable agility

Posted by  Andrew Garner

We live in an interesting time for the higher education market. Things are changing very rapidly on all fronts, and institutions need to become much more agile and efficient to keep up. Most institutions have evolved complicated interconnected solutions to the various government changes over the years, but times change. These niche solutions which solved a very specific problem are now unsupportable, and have created a tangled interconnected web which stifles the agility of an organisation to move with the times.

What is evident in the sector is a drive towards configurable single source solutions, providing future-proofing for the organisation to prepare for the many more changes coming from the government. The IT model is changing and institutions need solutions that make information constantly available, encourages collaboration and has the flexibility to adapt to changing times.

This is all part of an enormous cultural change in the sector. One of our customers expressed perfectly how this change is affecting institutions: “The pace and breadth of change continues to gather in higher education. Managing people and organisational change is increasingly complex in this environment, universities need to be more agile. Change is inevitable – you need solutions which work today but can adapt with your future requirements.”

The “digital natives” are the new normal student which means they have higher expectations of a digital campus. With every recruitment cycle more and more tech savvy students appear, expecting to be able to “just do it” with any device they have to hand at that time. Universities need to start addressing the digital downgrade students and staff are facing by supporting user adoption and allowing core back office staff to focus on value added activities.

The best people and most modern technology cannot make the difference alone – they need to be supported by well-designed and smooth processes. Look at the revolution in manufacturing over the last 25 years. Gone are the days of large warehouses full of stock – it’s now about stock control, having an accurate bill of materials and careful cost control to ensure that the business can return a profit. This is not dissimilar to the journey that the education industry needs to embark on, sooner rather than later.

Andrew Garner

Andy has worked in the HE sector for the majority of his career, and joined Unit4 to specialise in Student Systems and Student Experience. During his career in HE, he has worked for several SI’s in different roles, giving him rich mixture of experience in the sector. He is passionate about making things better for students, and believes the power of higher education can transform lives. Andy has a unique perspective on how the sector works and he understands that success in the sector involves taking the time to build a strong relationship between parties, which can then be used to achieve great things together.

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