Higher education

Innovating the student experience, more than just an upgrade.

Tech Vision for Higher Education

Welcome to the “Metaverse Continuum” – a spectrum of digitally-enhanced worlds, realities, and business models poised to revolutionize life and learning in the next decade.  The world of seamless virtual and physical realities is coming sooner than we think, and higher education leaders need to start thinking today about what they need to do to get prepared. For more than 20 years, Accenture has developed the Technology Vision research report to identify emerging technology trends that will have the greatest impact on companies, government agencies and other organizations in the coming years.

COVID-19 and the campus experience

To support a safe reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, Northeastern University built a hybrid, flexible learning model to give students a safe learning environment that fosters both human connection and supports high-quality education. The model, known as NUflex, was deployed within a matter of weeks and is supported by the university’s new Student Hub, which gives students an array of digital academic and social tools to stay engaged with their studies, peers and broader university community.

During the first term, more than 25,000 unique users used the COVID-19 Test Scheduller tool, helping the university maintain around 95% testing compliance. These tools and practices have left a lasting mark on the future of teaching and learning at Northeastern and positioned the university as a bold and visionary leader in higher education.

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Digital disruption in education

Technology is disrupting education—as it is every other industry. But education is also a little different to other industries. Why? Because it uniquely creates our future capabilities. It’s therefore more important than ever that educational institutes and governments plan for the future of work and life.

Lifelong learning is now essential. The future of work will see people having multiple careers over a much longer working life than they do today. As technology disrupts our society, we need to both adapt to working with technology and to shifting to new careers as technology and automation augment traditionally human tasks. Lifelong learning is also implicit in our humanity—we are by nature explorers and creators—and the opportunity to learn should inspire our lives.

The power of data

Universities collect data on students, much of it has not driven decision-making. Advanced analytics find the answers more efficiently and cost-effectively than ever before. These questions cover all aspects of operations—from student-facing to back-office.

Advanced analytics mean we don’t have to guess at the drivers of student success. Machine learning quickly identify factors that determine a student may be at risk—and then make decisions and prioritize actions for university administrators to intervene.

Analytics are a powerful source of insights that support effective decision making and strategic development. Concerns about the quality of data are usually misplaced. You likely already have enough data to drive preliminary insights, quickly identifying opportunities for growth. Privacy concerns are understandable. But anonymized, aggregated data is all you need to start making ground-breaking discoveries.

A winning result for the new world of work

James Cook University, students and Accenture teamed up to formulate a new microservices liquid workforce. As work becomes more task-focused, organisations need to find new workforce models that scale up and down to meet the needs of employers and employees equally well. Accenture and James Cook University have created a proof of concept that points the way forward to a new approach.


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