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New research shows students want digital ease and consistency from their university experience

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New research conducted by YouGov on behalf of TechnologyOne, has revealed that students are most concerned with a trustworthy, consistent digital information flow from their university.The survey of 1,026 students shows that reliable online access to course materials, exam results, administrative and admissions information, and timetables is a high priority for over 90 per cent of UK students. 88 per cent of respondents rated consistent, multi-device and location access to this information as important. However, despite it being a high priority for students, only six in ten respondents said their university offers this digital experience.

Technology for digital experience
The survey revealed a large proportion of respondents are not compelled to make course choices based on technology at university or faculty level. Just 44 per cent of students would be likely to choose one university over another if it had better levels of technology and innovation, either on the course or on the campus, in comparison to one that did not. Only 11 per cent of students characterised the technology they interact with as innovative – while 64 per cent described it as simply functional.“The survey confirms that students want technology to enable their journey through university, not disrupt it with change. The security and trust which comes from systems that work behind the scenes to make life easy for staff and students is essential. This is also what we expect in the modern workplace – technology that supports and informs our learning, enabling us to work smarter and meet bigger challenges,” explained Anwen Robinson, UK Operating Officer at TechnologyOne.

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Students need consistent, community enhancing online experiences
Nearly all students surveyed (95 per cent) can browse course materials digitally, and 93 per cent have access to the administrative information they need. However, the survey revealed that just over half (59 per cent) of the students enrolled using a process that was entirely online.“Students expect anytime, anywhere access to a seamless digital experience for enrolment through to course materials and completion, and our research confirms that universities are making this a priority. However, to add true value to the student experience, consistency and trust is key,” said Robinson.

Meeting students’ diverse technical requirements 
Many universities are embracing transformative technologies in a drive to meet the expectations of digitally native students while also delivering efficiencies. The research indicates that although students have widespread access to student services technology, innovation on campus is less evident.Just 19 per cent of students use smart devices during their lectures. Only three per cent are able to utilise AI functionality such as chatbots through their university’s website. Under one in five students has access to a campus map on their smart device.“We’re seeing innovation around how universities are delivering their curriculums, but less pervasive evidence of smart solutions that improve the campus experience for a wider diversity of students, for example, those with additional needs,” Robinson said.“The value of time at university is calculated differently by almost every student, and that needs to be recognised. By providing digitally consistent support from the application process through to career guidance and final examinations, universities can focus on demonstrating the value of further technology innovation and how that can augment both the higher education experience, and employability.”Key findings from the research:

  • 59% of UK students university application and enrolment processes are completely online
  • 93% of students can access administrative information online
  • 95% of students can access course materials online
  • 90% of students think it’s important to be able to access administrative information online
  • 93% of students think it’s important to be able to access course materials online
  • 11% of students would characterise the use of technology on their course as ‘innovative’ (65% think their course is simply functional and less than 30% progressive)
  • 88% of students think it’s important to have a consistent student experience
  • Only 19% of respondents have smart devices in use in lectures
  • Only 18% has a smartphone campus map app at their university
  • Only 3% have chatbots/AI in evidence on their university website
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