Higher Education

Innovating the student experience, more than just an upgrade

The digital divide

Universities and colleges around the world face two major and opposing challenges. On the one hand, governments are spending less money on higher education. This is forcing universities to seek alternative sources of funding. On the other, students expect more and better services from their universities and are keen to see them integrate digital technology into the learning experience.

Alongside these two major issues, universities also face questions about what and who they are for. Employers complain of the gap between graduate skills and those needed for the work place, while the demographic of students is shifting as more adult learners enroll. To successfully adapt, universities need to find new ways to partner with employers to equip citizens with the skills they need for the workplace. This will mean shifting their focus away from the traditional model of attracting and enrolling school leavers and concentrating instead on creating lifelong learning opportunities.

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.

Why hackers want to get into universities

Universities face the familiar challenges of cybersecurity-phishing attacks, unsecured personal devices, a lack of security awareness to identify and access management but need to contend with them in the context of a highly distributed technology environment. Open networks may not be properly monitored for unauthorized access, unsafe internet surfing habits and malware infections. Various faculties run their own IT and security departments making enforcement of streamlined security practices difficult. Most institutions lack formal governance structures to address security and compliance. It’s rare to find roles such as a Chief Information Security Officer or established compliance teams. Their absence makes it hard to implement and manage centralized IT security policies and standards. The nature of what institutions do and how they’re organized exposes them to some unique cybersecurity challenges.

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