Budget constraints, changing student expectations and efficiency demands are causing many higher education institutions across Australia to consider new models of operations.
And at the centre of transformation is student services. The past couple of years has many universities focusing on ways to transform their support and student service functions in order to demonstrate accountability, transparency and value in a changing market.
But transformation is no easy journey – it requires a change in culture, processes and technology. What’s more, many universities are still in the early stages of services transformation, and are grappling with how to best select the most appropriate operating model that is best suited to enable them to deliver student centric services.
With this in mind, ahead of Student Services Transformation 2017, we have compiled a list of 7 key steps any organisation should consider to ensure effective and successful student services transformation. Read on below to learn how some of the leading universities across Australia are approaching student services design and how you learn from their experiences to date.
- Establish a clear vision
Before embarking on services transformation it is important to set a clear vision on what you want to achieve. For many universities, existing administrative support services can be disjointed and duplicated. Consider what type of model you can set up where information can be sourced simply, centrally and at different levels of the organisation.
University of Canterbury is achieving this by not only establishing a clear vision for transformation early on, but later supporting this vision with principals of delivery and constant evaluation and feedback from students and staff.
- Build and evaluate the business case
As a higher education business leader you understand that a business case draws its strength from having a compelling narrative, responding to key drivers and demonstrating significant value to the entire institute and not just one or two areas of the university.
When building an effective business case for services transformation, you need to be able to define the “as is” environment and the future “to be” to showcase clear objectives to what you want to achieve.
For Monash University, building the case for change through effective stakeholder engagement throughout their Scheduling Services Improvement Initiative has been central to driving enhanced student experience, cost efficiencies and optimised resource utilisation.
- Keep the student as the centerpiece of your strategy
As the higher education sector continues to adapt and transform to keep up with student demands, it’s important to become more ‘customer-centric’ and design your services around the student experience.
This can stretch from teaching and learning, to digital touch points to student support services. Western Sydney University is one university who is keeping student needs and wants front of mind when designing services, by placing a big emphasis on integrating digital and new technologies in their strategy.
- Embrace new tech
Digital natives are demanding access to services anywhere and at anytime. In the past, University student services models have not been equipped to handle such requirements. What’s more, budget limitation, increased demands and process constraints can make it difficult to decide which direction to take.
Following in the footsteps of La Trobe University, it’s important to consider how new technologies might be able to help you deliver services more efficiently and effectively. For La Trobe, this has involved transitioning their student management function to the cloud in order to move beyond a traditional services model to one that is now equipped to handle customers of the 21st Century.
- Keep it simple
Even though most universities can give a long list of their student support services, it doesn’t necessarily mean all the services are actively functioning and benefiting the students effectively.
Remember to design your services in a way that makes it simple and easy for students to engage with you. A great example of this is the Australian National University’s recent transformation using the vision No Additional Resources, No Assistance for IT applications, with a key focus on moving from a reactive to a proactive service delivery model.
- Predictive data is your friend
With various student touch points now available throughout many universities, predictive data and effective allocation of resources can be used to transform the student experience.
While it is important to be student centric in the delivery of support services, don’t forget to be aware of the power of capturing student data and using that data as a guideline for connecting support.
Over the past 12 months Swinburne University of Technology has not only been focusing on using student insights to drive service improvements, but also to optimise resource allocation for improved return on investment.
- Engage stakeholders throughout the entire journey
A communication plan during a transformation project is crucial. Stakeholders involved, as well as those who will be affected by changes, need to be informed of timing and methodology throughout the entire process.
For Murdoch University, engaging stakeholders throughout the entire transformation journey has made it easier to implement changes, assess progress and evaluate outcomes. What’s more, stakeholders engaged in the process are usually more open and transparent, making it easier to seek input and collaboration from other parties.
Interested in learning more?
Join Murdoch University, Swinburne University, ANU, La Trobe, Monash and the University of Canturbury at Student Services Transformation 2017.