The challenges institutions face in providing an experience that both attracts and retains students constantly evolve. Today's students are the most technologically advanced in the history of academia. Yet, institutions throughout the country remain stuck in the "traditional" ways of doing things. Universities must harness technology to provide a seamless student journey and greater learning flexibility to meet the changing expectations of future generations of students.
The Digital Revolution
Technology has always been a part of education, but the Covid-19 pandemic moved things forward rapidly. Before the pandemic, students typically expected a campus-based experience aided by technology. The pandemic ushered in an entire digital campus almost overnight, and as technology advanced, so did the student's expectations.
Students now expect a hybrid learning experience with more flexibility to attend in-person and online lectures. 24/7 access to resources is also expected, meaning that institutions have had to prioritise their digital transformation much sooner than expected to meet students' expectations.
As students' expectations evolve, technology evolves even quicker, and universities must consider how their services are meeting the expectations of digitally savvy students.
The best way of executing this delivery is through devices students are familiar with, most effectively, their smartphones. This generation of students has grown up in the digital age and use their phones for almost everything. 98% of Generation Z members own a smartphone, with 55% using their devices for five or more hours daily, and more than a quarter (26%) are on their smartphones for over 10 hours a day.
This reliance on technology and the instant gratification it brings has raised the incoming generations of students' expectations exponentially. Due to social media, online shopping, and the general use of apps, students have become accustomed to high-speed services, communications and personalised experiences. Such customs are now experienced in everyday life and education. As students of Generation Z enter further and higher education, institutions must meet their expectations head-on via a digital, mobile-first approach.
Utilising The Digital Journey
Institutions must adopt this digital pathway to provide a seamless but technologically assisted journey for students throughout their student experience. Utilising technology in the right way allows institutions to implement systems that help them reimagine teaching to meet students' expectations. This includes providing a personalised experience so students can choose when and how they interact with the institution, access materials and information, and receive the help and support needed to complete their academic journey.
This technological support can be incorporated in an online campus app. It is essential that students use these platforms to stay engaged with their studies and to maintain high levels of motivation throughout the duration of their studies. Students will be able to access all the information they need, stay in touch with campus life, and easily engage with fellow students and staff at your institution, creating a sense of community and belonging crucial to their success.
A UK study confirms the importance of belonging in retention, where both academic and social engagement plays vital roles. The finding aligns with previous studies showing that students’ sense of belonging in higher education tends to be captured, determined, and operated mainly by academic and social engagement.
A mobile-first personalised experience can help you meet and exceed all student expectations without a heavy lift from your staff. Read all about it in our latest guide: Improving Student Retention - A Mobile Solution.