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Innovating the student experience

More than an upgrade

Institutions are set to welcome a group of students who live their lives in a digital world. Think about it. They may, for example, have never set foot in a bank branch, and they cannot conceive of life without a smartphone and the instant access to information that it provides. Their expectations of always-on, instantly available services are set by the likes of Amazon, Uber, and Netflix. In short, when these digital natives start arriving on campus, they'll bring with them some very different ideas about how life should be organized and how they expect to navigate every element of their experience—from lecture halls to living accommodations. As institutions begin to realize that digital experience extends well beyond offering online classes, we’re starting to see the same focus today on providing enhanced digital environments as there was on developing better physical spaces a decade ago.

Digital is changing everything from pre-admissions to the experience in the classroom. Innovations such as the connected campus will enable students to use their mobile devices as a 'remote control' for their entire university experience. The use of augmented and virtual reality is changing how students interact with their teachers.

99% of Higher Education institutions fear cybersecurity threats as they develop digital campuses.
76% of Higher Education institutions believe recruiting top talent requires top digital experiences.
91% of Higher Education institutions expect an increase in funding for digital technologies.
63% of Higher Education institutions are prioritizing safety and security for digital investments.

But with funding becoming harder to access and competition for new sources of finance intensifying, universities need to ensure they can secure the operational efficiencies they need to maximize the impact of their technology investments.


Universities have among the most demanding customers in the world: students. As digital natives, their expectations are set by the digital experiences they get every day. To meet those expectations, universities need to ensure that they can deliver a compelling and immersive digital experience. That starts from before students have applied: digital marketing is now a crucially important route for attracting potential students. While many institutions are already embarking on their digital transformation journey, our research has shown us there is still a divide between a digital experience and a truly innovative digital experience. The key is understanding how to get over to the other side.



Artificial intelligence (AI) is the number one technology trend poised to transform organizations . While AI is already transforming industries such as banking and healthcare, applications in higher education are only beginning to emerge. It is important to remember whilst AI is a general term – referring to many technologies that can be combined in different ways to sense, comprehend, and act to improve how we process, analyze, learn, decide, and personalize – it's true potential is unlocked when working with people not instead of them. With this in mind AI can improve institutional operations as well as the student experience.


How does AI innovate the student experience?

Seven Ways You Can Add Value in Higher Education from Accenture

Seamless operational efficiency

1.Seamless operational efficiency

Applied to administrative functions such as HR, finance, and procurement, AI can analyze data, provide insights faster, and continuously learn – leading to increased efficiency, reduced risk, and enhanced scale.

Knowledge is power

2.Knowledge is power

AI can access vast quantities of data and communicate that knowledge back to students in various formats – improving their daily life and their academic experience.

Knowledge is power

2.Knowledge is power

AI can access vast quantities of data and communicate that knowledge back to students in various formats – improving their daily life and their academic experience.

Educated decision making

3.Educated decision making

AI can use data and insights to guide better decision-making across the university. It can learn from historical management decisions and outcomes, assess similar scenarios and results in other universities, calculate probabilities of “success,” and use other variables.



The question isn't if you should migrate, it's when – and how


Back-office transformation is not a new concept. When you hear that phrase, you may assume it’s referring to increasing the speed, efficiency and productivity of transaction processing or compliance activities. Those are always good aims, but in today’s digital world, they’re missing the point. It’s time to start talking about the back office in higher education as a Center of Innovation. To achieve this requires the back office to do more, at quality and speed, with less. It also requires a renewed focus on the true mission and purpose of the back office. Finding, nurturing and retaining top-tier talent. Creating performance-focused institutions that are financially sustainable. And seeking out, developing and managing relationships to continuously improve services for the students, faculty and administrators.

Discover more about transforming your back office into a Center of Innovation and join the conversation with our industry experts.


Jonathan Fry

Jonathan Fry



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Ian Watt

Ian Watt

      Senior Manager - Education,    

North America Accenture

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