This month in the news HE students in England are being promised the option of an accelerated two-year degree course in order to save 20% on tuition fees compared with a more usual three-year degree course. The strategy behind the move means that the course is condensed, making it more cost-effective for students, more flexible in terms of attracting mature students and cheaper for the government who would have lower tuition fee loans to fund. A win all round it seems?
At a time when universities are trying their hardest to accommodate digital transformation and engage on much deeper levels with their students, this of course throws them another curve ball. It reduces by a third the time they have at their disposal to ‘engage’ in order to get the successes both institution and students require from higher education in such a short time frame. Student engagement has been shown to positively impact retention – although one could argue that condensing courses may have its own positive impact on retention figures.
However, if universities are to succeed in offering students a condensed course, they may find it difficult to adapt unless they are more flexible and dynamic in serving their students’ needs. Its only by delivering a more flexible offering that they will have the ability to condense a traditional course into a condensed one. Purely from a point of speed and efficiency, the digital campus can deliver help with any adjustment moving from a three-year to a two-year degree course – removing ‘friction tasks’ – allowing students to access increasingly more information digitally, as well as being able to do so from any location at any time. Around the clock learning will also go some way to delivering a faster outcome.
However, a faster outcome isn’t the only metric. The learning outcome must be success on both sides, and this is where the digital campus is unrivalled. Over time data is collected which provides the ability to deliver a much more personalised learning experience. Learner analytics will enable a more student-centred, personal, adaptive and ultimately engaging experience for all.
This latest move by the government hasn’t changed how institutions view technology – many have already noted the benefits and digitally transformed - and there are many more following. But it does throw new emphasis onto the digital campus and how it can help solve many of the challenges facing our universities and colleges - not least how it has the ability to engage students faster, more efficiently and in a way that they themselves demand as a digital-generation. Delivering resources, services, collaboration, camaraderie and a sense of inclusion undoubtedly increases a feeling of belonging and engagement within digitally-transformed institutions and positively impacts campus life.
Would you like to learn more about the key to engaging students?