Registrars have the unique ability to influence institution-wide policies and practices related to academic affairs and student success.

How registrars are essential for student engagement

Registrars have the unique ability to influence institution-wide policies and practices related to academic affairs and student success

Seventy-nine percent of respondents in a survey agreed registrars should be actively involved in student engagement across the student life cycle, and 88 percent indicated the same for strategic-enrollment management efforts.

This according to results from the “Perceptions of and Expectations for the Role of the Registrar” 60-Second Survey by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), in participation with Modern Campus, a modern learner engagement platform. These responses imply the role of the modern registrar centers around the concept of student centricity.

The 60-Second Survey invited registrars and enrollment management professionals from colleges and universities across North America to provide their perspectives on what the role of the registrar should be at their institution.

Particular attention was paid to what the role of the registrar should be for student engagement and enrollment management. The data from the survey was used to shape a roundtable discussion in July 2022 and a subsequent white paper by AACRAO and Modern Campus titled, “The Modern Registrar: Reflections from the Field.”

“A successful registrar is much more than a record gatekeeper – the registrar’s portfolio is central to an institution and engaged in aspects of academic affairs, financial aid, data and technology, compliance and records management. Through this portfolio they create, maintain and are continuously engaged in improving the student experience and student success,” said Dr. Wendy Kilgore, senior director of research at AACRAO.

The registrar has the unique ability to simultaneously influence institution-wide policies and practices related to both academic affairs and student success. They have access to, and an understanding of, a broad set of data. A modern registrar uses this data to identify pitfalls and areas of success, and to advocate for data-driven student-centric policy, practice and the application of technology. The roundtable participants contributed further to the understanding of what it means to be student centric by sharing their institutional and professional perspectives on the topic. Themes in their collective responses included, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Placing the student at the center of decision-making around policy, practice and the use of technology
  • Being aware of the use of profession-specific terminology
  • Understanding the registrar’s role as an educator
  • Using of empathy to understand a student’s perspectives
  • Leveraging data to inform student-centric policy and practice
  • Highlighting understanding that there is no “one-size-fits-all” student experience in higher education

“More and more, we are seeing the role of the registrar shift from being more systems and process focused to more student focused,” said Amrit Ahluwalia, senior director of strategic insights at Modern Campus. “By spending less time on records management and more time focused on becoming student centric – helping support student needs on a daily basis – will ultimately help students attain their goal of degree completion.”

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