IT as a Student Service13th October 2021
As the digital transformation in higher education continues, institutions are confronted with challenges on a daily basis. Pressured by the effects of the pandemic, institutions have impressed with their steps towards a more digital campus and a proper digital experience for students. However, there are still steps to be made. IT departments in higher education are facing many challenges to serve students as best they can, while ensuring a solid IT infrastructure for the institution.
It all starts with priorities. When the pandemic hit and the lockdown went into effect, the main priority was to facilitate online learning for all students. It simply was a necessity at that point in time. Before the pandemic, in all of education, innovation and digital transformation were less of a priority. Compared to other industries, education was falling behind. That was simply because they did not feel the need to digitise. The pandemic made online learning a priority, but it should not stop there.
At this point institutions are slowing down a bit when it comes to the digital transformation. They do not feel the pressure as much as they did when the pandemic hit, while it is still there. The new generation of students demands more from their institution and needs IT to up their game. However, there are two forces stopping them from doing so. The first is a lack of interest and understanding. IT is focused on the systems they have and keeping everything up and running, and rightly so. However, they forget about the fact that they are doing all of their work for students. Business critical systems, as they call it, always have the highest priority. What is often forgotten is that student critical systems are business critical.
The second comes from the changing needs and wants of students. Students nowadays are part of a digital minded mobile first generation. Maybe all the information they need is available to them, but it is not how they want it. Institutions do think about what their students need, but when they try to put it into practice, they do not think about the ‘how’. Having everything you need is one, but having to log in to over 10 different systems and platforms is not the way to go.
Most importantly, institutions and their IT departments need to realise they are serving their students and that they need to figure out what their students need and want. One of Ready Education’s customers is Breda University of Applied Sciences. Their Advisor & Project Manager for IT is Patrick van Gijzen who said: “Our goal is to optimise our services for students, they are the ones we have to serve.” Robin Hidding, Director of the Business Support Organisation at Saxion University of Applied Sciences, agrees. “We always strive to deliver what our students need and want. Yes, first our infrastructure needs to be in order, but our institution is driven by our students, not by our IT department.”
IT is not just IT. IT is a student service.