3 ways to cut costs and boost your university’s income

  • Posted on December 3, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes
Boost university income

Think back to this time last year: Brexit and the general election dominated the news. In the higher education sector, budgets were being tightened and the looming impact of Brexit was being considered from every angle. What’s more, competition between institutions themselves was reaching boiling point. Positivity was in short supply.

Then the unthinkable happened.

Covid-19 swept into our lives like a hurricane, changing everyone’s lives. It turned every sector on its head and meant most organisation’s short-term plans went out the window. The UK’s higher education market was hit hard.

The biggest problem was uncertainty. Alongside the uproar surrounding A-level results and that algorithm, the delays caused logistical headaches around the country. But that was the thin end of the wedge.

The financially valuable international student market collapsed overnight, as national lockdowns made travel near impossible. Even after the first lockdown ended, the ever-present threat of Covid-19 meant students were understandably reluctant to commit to courses they’d signed up to pre-Covid. Back in April, a survey of 10,000 Chinese students considering higher education in the UK found that 39% were undecided about their study plans.

Around 200,000 international students come to the UK for higher education every year; any change to that number creates a catastrophic ripple effect. Every international student lost need two domestic students to make up the lost tuition fees.

The UK’s higher education sector is staring down the barrel of an unprecedented financial shortfall: a potential £7bn drop in income – one-third of all tuition fees. Consequently, the UK’s global reputation as a leading seat of academia and research is hanging in the balance.

At the same time, tech giants like Amazon and Google are pressing ahead with their own degree courses and qualifications. Will there be a time when these will be as well-regarded as traditional degree courses? Competition is coming at us from every angle.

What can be done? The answer lies in the student experience
Even before the pandemic, higher education establishments across the country were already adapting. Collaborations between institutions are being worked out. Subjects are (often controversially) being dropped. More part-time and short courses are being offered to cater to a more diverse demographic of often mature students who are looking for new challenges or a change of career.

Our long experience of higher education sector leads us to believe that a large part of the answer to the sector’s woes lies in reshaping the student experience. Higher education leaders are forced to deal with a number of larger issues that sometimes can take the focus away from the student lifecycle.

Unignorable realities such as rising costs, greater competition, regulatory compliance, new technologies, and more can shift attention away from students. But that’s exactly what you can’t allow to happen – more than ever, you need visibility of every touchpoint the student has with your institution. Changing and adapting to new behaviours is the way forward.

Let’s take a look at Avanade’s three pillars of student lifecycle management.

1) Creating a more effective student recruitment and enrolment experience
From initial touch points to admissions and approval and everything in between, the goal is to engage every prospective student. In this age of globalisation and fierce competition, it’s vital that learning institutions put in the appropriate resources that will draw the finest students and help you remain competitive.

To do this, you need to maximise the use of data and insights to deliver hyper-personalised experiences that increase engagement and conversion. Higher education needs to think like an ambitious tech startup, leveraging agile marketing techniques like never before.Avanade can help you implement and make full use of CRM technology like Microsoft Dynamics 365 and powerful multi-channel tools like Adobe Marketing Cloud and Sitecore.

2) Improving life on campus
Universities need to provide their students with a digital experience that maximises student engagement. Here’s how you can transform the experience of students and employees:

  • Maximise the use of data and insights to deliver hyper-personalised experiences that increase engagement.
  • Get a 360-degree view of the student population to understand how you can best support their needs.
  • Consolidate and streamline processes across faculties for consistent experiences and outcomes. Say goodbye to operational siloes.

3) Staying connected long after graduation
The student-university relationship continues well beyond formal study and research. Maintaining meaningful, long-term connections with alumni – especially in times of uncertainty – is challenging but essential. When nurtured, the alma mater factor can influence where research projects and funding is directed and where scholarships and even bequeathments are destined.

With the right technology, you can create targeted student engagement strategies and systems that extend beyond the campus life of students. As alumni, you can swiftly and easily organise Covid-safe events that bring physical and digital experiences together.

How other universities are using technology to their advantage
University of Staffordshire has recruited AI ‘robots’ to help lighten the administrative load on its employees and help them focus on more valuable and creative tasks. Using AI-powered ‘Robotic Process Automation’ (RPA), the university is taking the tedium out of tenure by enlisting software to perform repetitive admin tasks.

Arizona State University has reshaped itself to expand into whole new markets. Alongside its 75,000 on-campus student population (pre-Covid), it has attracted 80,000 online students taking over 250 different courses. Graduation rates have doubled, and retention rates have improved substantially.

It’s just a few signs of things to come. Technology doesn’t have to complicate things, in fact it can reduce costs and streamline complex processes, helping students feel even more at home in higher education.

Get in touch
To find out how Avanade can help you improve your student lifecycle management and bring cost-saving technologies to your institution, contact us today.

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