It’s not hard to see that a combination of budget reduction, a pandemic, and aging decision makers is leading to poor student experience. It is time to face the reality that the student experience is not being appropriately addressed. A culture of consumerism is plaguing post-secondary institutions and in this article we identify the three main factors that are leading to these problems.
1. Cutting Support Staff While Ignoring Other Inflated Salaries
The following is not as bold a statement as you might think:
“EVERY POST SECONDARY SCHOOL HAS BIG SALARIES BEING PAID TO MULTIPLE PEOPLE WHO ARE REDUNDANT BECAUSE OF TECHNOLOGY, AND IT’S NOT ADMIN SUPPORT.”
We’ve been brought into multiple post-secondary schools now and we consistently see that that the first positions cut tend to be these administrative ones. What makes these easy to cut? Students often don’t know that lack of administrative support leads to:
- Longer response times on calls and emails.
- Increased errors in records, payments, etc.
- Difficulty finding necessary academic, mental health, and other supports.
- Decreased connection with the institution due to removing the front facing layer between instructors and students.
- Decreased experience with remaining administrative support who have less time, patience, or even happiness for students.
Now, we love some good quality branding, communications, and design but most marketing departments could operate on 3-4 people if they utilized tech and other resources more effectively. Need a new logo for your school? Instead of paying someone $80,000/year for something, create a contest for free tuition for a year within your students. You’ll get great submissions and save money.
2. Poor Student Experience Is Driven By Poor Understanding Of Culture Factors
The frustrating reality is that right now we have student surveys (inaccurate & bias) and people who are disconnected from student experience (likely had to form a committee) building student experience.
This doesn’t lead to better student experience. It leads to the same student experience as you’ve always had.
First, don’t make the mistake of copying the model of another school. That school is different than your school. It is in a different area, with different socio-economic factors, and very different needs.
Second, look at the factors that matter most to students these days. StuDocu World did a great study of over 20,000 students across more than 171 schools in North America. The factors that mattered and scored high in the top schools are things like:
- Accessibility for all needs
- Remote learning quality
These are different than they were in 2018, and certainly different than they were when many VP’s of Student Services were still in school.
3. Lack Of Creativity In Leadership
This was alluded to in the previous point as we continue to see leaders copying plans of other institutions, utilizing flawed survey data, or sticking to the same old methods to no avail. Students can learn coding at an elite level on YouTube, get exceptional diversity and inclusion training from Cornell, and pick up complex subjects like physics of calculus through EdX. So building a culture of innovation and creativity is key to preventing students from turning to these more accessible, more affordable, and often more effective, options.
It’s time to get creative.
- Allow students to challenge more classes.
- Become elite at remote and hybrid learning, even without a pandemic.
- Increase administrative support to build authentic connection and pay for it with jobs that are redundant.
- See athletics as an investment (Read more on our education branch site here).
- Make campus truly safe from things like sexual assault by proactively running engaging training and building authentic conversations instead of just relying on emergency buttons for when something is about to happen. Here’s a link to Brenda Tracy’s website because she’s a bad ass who is in this space.
Poor Student Experience Leads To Poor Community Economics
Poor student experience leads to decreased enrolment.
Decreased enrolment leads to layoffs, cuts, etc (which ALSO leads to poor student experience).
This leads to entire families packing up and moving to another community where the parents can work at a school with strong student experience that doesn’t have those cuts.
We are in the process of finding ways to utilize our GRW Project in the post-secondary school space. Check it out here.