student success

Campuses show major shift in supporting student success


Focus on improving outcomes has increased as student success takes center stage.

Institutions are increasingly focused on supporting student success, with 73 percent of colleges and universities shifting their organizational structure to benefit students, according to a new study.

The research study aims to demonstrate how higher education institutions are evolving to support student success and close the student-college digital divide. Unit4, a provider of higher-ed student management systems, conducted the research to ascertain how student success is driving investment in core systems.

Responses from higher education IT decision makers in the U.S., from 2-year (33 percent) and 4-year (59 percent) institutions of varying sizes, show that student retention is the number one priority driving organizational change, technology and cloud investment, and new approaches to enrollment.

When asked to rank student success initiatives in priority order, student retention came out on top, followed by course completion rates and time-to-graduation; student experiences and services; and job placement and employability.

(Next page: Are institutions updating practices and modern technology?)

Additionally, respondents were asked how integral their core administrative systems (such as student information system, financial system, and human resources management) are to managing their institution’s student success program, and on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is integral, the average score was 3.88.

Twenty-four percent of respondents said their institution has shifted its enrollment approaches to target best-fit students, even if enrollment counts suffer. Forty percent said they expect student success to be the main driver for replacing their core student information system in the next two years.

Looking at modern technology implementations, one-fifth of those surveyed said more than 50 percent of their new technology is custom-developed, while 63 percent said less than 50 percent is custom-developed and 15 percent said none is custom-developed.

A relatively small number of respondents (37 percent) said they leverage a data warehouse and analytics to support their student success initiatives. Sixty percent say they are using automation in their core systems to support early alerts and action plans for at-risk students.

Sixty-two percent have recently overhauled their student portal, self-service capabilities, or developed new mobile applications to improve the student experience. Only 28 percent claim to leverage CRM to support their student success initiatives, with 19 percent confirming they don’t and 52 percent admitting they don’t know.

New technology like bots and AI are still some way from becoming mainstream, with 6 percent of those surveyed confirming they are used to support student success.

Laura Ascione