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Higher education will never be the same!

Explore the digital demand on campus—and beyond—and what it means for the future of student learning and engagement.


Seventy percent of higher education students and recent graduates want their institutions to use more digital tools according to the Accenture 2014 Global Value of Higher Education Survey. But if universities think that digital engagement is simply about offering online courses and live chats—they should think again.

There is no turning back from digital in higher education. Eighty-five percent of high school seniors, 81 percent of higher education students and 72 percent of higher education graduates say that how well a higher education institution embraces innovation is an important factor in deciding which institution to attend. The digital demand is real, and higher education institutions must start making the grade or risk irrelevance in the digital era. But where should they begin?


The Accenture 2014 Global Value of Higher Education Survey surveyed more than 1,500 high school seniors, university students and recent university graduates across the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore and India. The survey was conducted between July 9 and August 5, 2014. Data has been rounded to the nearest whole number.

The data revealed that the higher education environment is not like it used to be. Neither are students. While their parents saw a degree as an assurance of success, students are not so confident today. Most (74 percent) higher education students and recent graduates say they considered alternatives to a university or higher education.

And they are more connected than ever. A powerful force shaping their daily lives, digital influences how students learn and engage with others.


Making the grade in digital
To remain competitive, the higher education community must reinvent teaching, administration and alumni relations for a holistic approach to digital engagement. Key actions include:

  1. Deliver on-demand learning
    Digital natives learn efficiently in real time, not just in the lecture hall or the library. Familiar with the immediacy and interactivity of online, mobile and social tools, students expect on-demand, self-led learning. Higher education institutions must enable such learning inside and outside the classroom—using mobile, social, video and content curation to make learning more engaging.

  2. Work with new teaching partners
    Education innovation such as on-demand learning models requires different educational delivery systems. Higher education institutions can build a digital ecosystem that extends beyond the campus. This means collaborating with other universities, the private sector and government to fill resource gaps and extend learning opportunities.

  3. Cultivate lifelong learning
    It is not only current students who benefit from these digital ecosystems. By using digital tools, higher education institutions can extend and strengthen alumni relationships around the very thing that brought people to them in the first place—education. Alumni can get new value from on-demand learning from an ecosystem of partners that can meet their learning needs.


The majority (80 percent) of university students say that digital capabilities were important when deciding which institution to attend. Yet only 13 percent of those surveyed believe their institution provides appropriate digital tools. This disconnect suggests many higher education institutions have yet to fully seize the potential for digital tools to transform learning.

To remain competitive, the higher education community must attract, engage, satisfy and sustain relationships with always-on students. This means more than digitizing what universities have done for years. It is reinventing teaching, administration and alumni relations for a holistic approach to digital engagement across the entire student journey.

Digital Student Infographic

College students are demanding more from technology, the classroom and the campus.

For more information, download the full infographic.