Delivering a modern, student-centric experience is a common objective for universities in Australia and across the globe. This is driven by rising student expectations and the increasingly competitive nature of the global education sector.
A core component of a university's overall student experience strategy includes how it thinks about delivering educational outcomes and support services to students in a digital world. A student portal is therefore central to a university's student experience strategy and creates a unified environment where students can interact with their course work, assessments, class and exam timetables, broader student services, and support options.
For universities looking to implement a student portal, there are a number of core themes that are consistent in delivering an optimal student experience.
1. Unifying Access to Information & Student Systems
Providing a friendly end-user experience helps increase the adoption of student portals and minimises the stress placed on manual student information services, such as those delivered in person or via phone or email.
To deliver on this goal, modern student portals act as the unifying layer that centralises access to information and systems including:
- A university's learning management system
- Class and exam timetables
- Student financial information, including outstanding fees and scholarship applications
- Access to student support services
- University news and information
For example, the University of East Anglia developed its student portal, MyUEA, with a focus on providing one clear place to find the information students need about topics like faculty or school, division or service, updates, and more. Another important consideration during implementation was providing easy access to the authenticated portal for their students.
2. Providing a Personalised Student Experience
Universities are increasingly providing a more flexible approach to tertiary study. This results in a greater need to provide a personalised experience as the mode of study, course structure, and location of students are increasingly unique.
By focusing on personalisation, a university unlocks the opportunity to create a more engaging student experience, delivering targeted information and more individualised access to support services for students needing additional guidance. Personalising a student's experience based on their unit of study, study load (full-time or part-time), mode of study (online or on-campus), and academic performance are all options that can be implemented with relatively low effort.
For example, the University of London educates 170,000 international learners from London to Singapore. To enhance their student portal in the way of responsive design and engaging experiences for their students, the University of London needed to deliver a more personalised experience. By providing an environment that catered to the needs of individual students, they were able to increase their net promoter score (NPS) amongst students.
3. Cover the Complete Student Lifecycle
Delivering a consistent end-user experience provides an opportunity to lift student satisfaction, increase retention, and improve utilisation of a new student portal. Compared to student portals of the past, a modern student experience goes beyond delivering access to learning materials and online lectures.
Increasingly modern student portals are catering to the end-to-end student lifecycle, from admission through to graduation and beyond. This provides opportunities for universities to personalise the end-user experience, while also opening new avenues for maintaining relationships post-graduation. For example, this could be achieved with an alumni portal that maintains a student's connection with a university and their peers.
For example, an education company in Indonesia, Aku Pintar, has extended its concept of a student portal to offer students, schools, and educators access to community forums, practice exams, information about scholarships, digital classrooms, and more. As a result, they are engaging with students much earlier in their academic journey, thus creating the early foundations of success.
Next Steps to Deliver an Optimal Student Experience
Ultimately, universities have an opportunity to use technology to create more consistent and personalised experiences for their students. Engaging with students through digital channels provides the ability to do this at scale and beyond the traditional geographic boundaries of on-campus institutions. As universities accelerate their digital transformation, student portals open further possibilities, allowing for universities to engage students before, during, and after the completion of their students. This enhances the value of a university, its alumni, and the opportunity that an individual gains from opting to study there.
To find out more about delivering an optimal student experience, read our blog on ‘The Top 6 Trends Shaping Student Experience in 2022’ to ensure you’re equipped to meet changing student expectations and stay ahead of competition.