73% of students: “University, improve your digital strategy!”

Research into student administration shows universities need to deliver a better digital experience

Utrecht, Netherlands, 

Unit4, a fast growing leader in enterprise applications for service organizations, today released the findings of an independent multi-national research study into the student [1]digital experience around administration. 7 in 10 students would recommend that their university reviews and changes its digital strategy related to student administration. Around one third of students feel student administration systems do not meet their expectations, making them less likely to recommend the institution.

The research was designed to deliver insight on whether providing a great digital experience to university students gives institutions a competitive advantage. Specifically the goal was to measure students’ perceptions of their universities’ current digital offer 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 at university level in the US, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Benelux, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. 

Interestingly, student responses were fairly consistent across undergraduates and postgraduates and from country to country with no clear leader. Students want their universities to do a better job in digitizing student administration and collaboration. Globally, 44% said that student admin is managed digitally ‘a little or not at all’ with more than one third (36%) stating that admin is so complex it means they spend less time studying. Almost half (47%) the respondents said they would expect administration to be easier to manage given the fees they pay.

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. 41% said they would have a better experience if they could interact more digitally and 41% would be more likely to recommend their university if digital interaction was better. A quarter of respondents think less of their university because their systems are poor.


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

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

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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Emma Keates

Global Head of Communications

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Paul Addison

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