Most Students Want Their University to Change Its Digital Strategy

As the academic year winds down, a new generation of students are beginning their college careers and interacting with their schools’ digital capabilities. From registering for classes to selecting housing and applying for financial aid, students are seeing if their universities’ digital properties are up to snuff.

However, a majority of students aren’t satisfied with their universities’ offerings. A recent study found that 73 percent of college students recommend their university review and change its digital strategy.

“I like the vast depth of information provided on my college’s online resources; however, the resources are rarely navigable for the average student,” said Tyler Watkins, a graduate student at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. “I just wish the information was more easily accessible for students and their families.”

The global research report by Unit4, an enterprise applications provider, found that one-third of U.S. college students feel student administration systems do not meet their expectations. With the rise of online classes and college administration processes increasingly becoming digitized, it’s essential that universities are improving processes, increasing simplification, and keeping students satisfied.

As colleges are quickly being populated by Generation Z members, rather than millennials, colleges have to change how students are treated. While millennials, who were born between the early 1980s to 2000, and Generation Z, who were born between the early 2000s to the present, have both used technology since they were very young, their technology choices are different.

Millennials use three screens on average–a smartphone, TV, and laptop–and Generation Zers use five devices–a smartphone, music player/tablet, laptop, desktop, and TV. With an increased number of devices on campuses, universities need to provide resources on a wider variety of platforms. Since 87 percent of students want a single app/Web application accessible from any device, it’s no longer enough to provide an app optimized for a smartphone: It must also work seamlessly on a tablet or laptop.

According to a recent MeriTalk Tech Iconoclast report, more than half of millennials have taken 10 percent or less of their college courses online. However, that number could very easily rise with Generation Z. According to Unit4’s study, 41 percent of students say they would have a better college experience if they could interact more digitally with their university.

Today’s college students don’t just want to manage their social lives online, they want to manage their academic lives digitally too. Eighty percent of students want an app that shows their progress toward their degree. Colleges need to pay attention to these requests because 41 percent of students would be more likely to recommend their university if digital interaction were improved.

Currently, though, a third of students feel there is too much paperwork and are frustrated with the complexity of their university’s administrative processes.

Overall, students are least satisfied with how their universities manage the financial aid process, course transfers, communicating with faculty advisers, managing academic coursework and progress, paying tuition, and the admissions process.

“One of the surprising results to come out of this survey showed that over a third of students in the U.S. have three or more logins for university-related accounts,” said Scott Kamieneski, managing director of 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 U.S. 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.”

This lack of efficiency and cumbersome processes will only continue to frustrate college students as colleges are populated with more and more digital natives. With the rise of mobile payment and ride-hailing apps, it’s not a surprise that students want to digitize their college experience.

For more on Unit4’s study, view the infographic and press release. View the Meritalk Tech Iconoclastpress release or download the full report for more information.

Kate DeNardi
About Kate DeNardi
Kate DeNardi is 21st Century State & Local's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs
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