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73% of Students Are Dissatisfied with Their University’s Digital Strategy

Research shows that one-third of university students in the US think less of their institution because of its digital strategy

Unit4 Connect 2016, New Orleans, LA, 

Unit4, a fast growing leader in enterprise applications for service organizations, today announced the results of a multi-national research study on students’ perceptions of their campus technology. Amid a rapidly changing digital landscape, the study finds that around one-third of students feel student administration systems do not meet their expectations, making them less likely to recommend the institution. The survey also found that 7 in 10 students would recommend that their universities review and change its digital strategy. Additionally, nearly one-third of students in the US and one-quarter of students in Canada think less of their institutions because of their digital strategies, and around half of North American students expect it to be easier to manage their academic lives because of the costs associated with their university or college.

The research was designed to deliver insight surrounding the digital1 experience around university administration, and whether providing a great digital experience to students gives institutions a competitive advantage. Specifically, the goal was to measure students’ perceptions of their universities’ current digital offering for administration. The survey was conducted by DJS Research in March and April 2016 among more than 2,000 full time and part time students studying in the US, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Benelux, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. 

Student responses were fairly consistent across undergraduates and postgraduates and from country to country, finding that students want their universities to do a better job in digitizing student administration and collaboration. Globally, 44% said that student administration is managed digitally “a little or not at all,” and in the US and Canada, 40% and 35% of respondents, respectively, stated that administration is so complex it means they spend less time studying. Additionally, course transfers proved exceptionally problematic for US and Canadian students with only half of respondents rating their digital administration process “good.”

The research also found that a lack of modern, digital solutions for student administration has a negative impact on the student’s perception of the university. For US respondents, 44% said they would have a better experience if they could interact more digitally with their university, and 45% would be more likely to recommend their university if digital interaction was better. Globally, a quarter of respondents think less of their university because their systems are poor, a sentiment that was highest in the US, with nearly one-third of US respondents reporting poor systems negatively affecting their view of their university.    

According to Jami Morshed, VP of the Global Center of Excellence for Education at Unit4, “This is why we’ve seen such demand for our new next-generation Student Management system, as it’s simpler and more comprehensive than anything that’s been previously available to students. Universities face growing competition for students. Those that embrace digital and deliver a user experience similar to the apps students use on their many devices every day, will succeed above the rest.”

“One of the surprising results to come out of this survey showed that over a third of students in the US have three or more logins for university-related accounts,” said Scott Kamieneski, Managing Director, Unit4 North America. “While this is not only inefficient and cumbersome, many universities also require that students come to campus to handle tasks that could be digitized. In order to provide a more streamlined campus experience, universities across the US need to embrace the modern, digital solutions now available on the market to allow students to spend less time dealing with administrative tasks and more time learning.”

When asked what experience they would like to have, 87% of the students surveyed said they would like a single application accessible from any device to manage their entire university life. More than 8 out of 10 would be more satisfied if their university implemented a single digital system to manage all of their administration. Similarly, 87% would find it useful to have an app that shows their current progress in their degree, a core component of helping students stay on track.    

The findings of the survey have been illustrated in an infographic.

7 in 10 #students would recommend that their university reviews & changes its #digital strategy #research

A third of students feel there is too much paperwork and get frustrated with the amount and complexity of admin. Students are currently least satisfied with managing financial aid, course transfers and communicating with faculty advisors. Managing academic progress and coursework, paying tuition and other institutional fees and admissions are also areas for improvement.  

“The survey findings support the concerns we hear from our customers. Typically, students, faculty and staff are faced with old fashioned, difficult to use systems in their campus life as the market for Student Information Systems (SIS) hasn’t seen real innovation for more than a decade. Currently-installed Student Information Systems are on average more than 13 years old,” said Jami Morshed, VP of the Global Center of Excellence for Education at Unit4. “This is why we’ve seen such demand for our new next-generation Student Management system as it’s simpler and more comprehensive than anything that’s gone before. Universities face growing competition for students. Those that embrace digital and deliver an experience similar to the device/app experience students live their lives by, will succeed above the rest.”

When asked what experience they would like to have, 87% of the students surveyed said they would like a single application accessible from any device to manage their entire university life. More than 8 out of 10 would be more satisfied if their university implemented a single digital system to manage all of their administration. Similarly 87% would find it useful to have an app that shows their current progress in their degree, a core component of helping students stay on track.    

The findings of the survey have been illustrated in an infographic


1‘Digital’ was defined to the students as administration through websites or apps (rather than via email) on their mobile, tablet, laptop or PC.

About Unit4

Unit4 is a leading provider of enterprise applications empowering people in service organizations. Unit4 provides student management, ERP and research management solutions to over 1000 colleges and universities globally to help them accelerate growth, boost student success, improve institutional effectiveness and deliver research excellence. Clients include Oxford and Cambridge Universities, HEC Paris, University of Waterloo, American University of Paris, Robert Morris University, Baylor College of Medicine, Hult International, and University of Dubai. Unit4 is in business for people.

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