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What is Digital Transformation in Higher Education?

By June 1, 2022December 10th, 2023No Comments

Digital transformation has accelerated in recent years and has created an immense shift across industries. This shift has focused on utilising technology to significantly enhance business operations, efficiency, performance, and profitability. The higher education sector has seen this shift create a transformation in education. We examine how digital technology is impacting universities, colleges and other higher learning institutions in more detail below.

What is meant by digital transformation?

To understand how digital transformation impacts this sector and creates a transformation of learning, we need to define what it is. In simple terms, digital transformation in higher education refers to an organisational change made possible by digital technologies. In most cases, these technologies are used for process, business model, and cultural/organisational transformation to improve the institution’s performance, efficiency and operations. In this way, these technologies are being used to enhance customer/student experience and streamline processes.

You may be wondering what this digital technology adoption looks like within a higher education institution and what impact it is having? We have put together a few examples below to highlight how this technology is being utilised and the benefits that an institution can expect to experience. This includes:

  • The adoption of digital tools in the form of websites, social media, chatbots, email, and more is being used to recruit and retain students effectively.
  • Utilising big data to identify critical operational elements to make informed business decisions.
  • Empowering students with self-service digital platforms to complete tasks that include class registrations, transcript requests, funding and fee requests and more.
  • Automating workflows to complete tasks faster, reducing the administrative burden on staff and allowing them to complete tasks quicker and more accurately which enhances the student experience.

Why is digital transformation creating such a shift in the higher education sector?

From the above, it is clear that digital technologies are positively enhancing how higher education institutions function. With such importance played in the adoption of this technology, we need to look at why this has become such a critical element in terms of the success of higher education institutions.

The shift towards digital transformation has moved faster than many of us ever expected. This is mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the quick pivot many institutions needed to make to ensure that their students could still learn, and lecturers could still teach during the many national lockdowns implemented globally. Digital technology facilitated this, but it has also brought about:

  • A change in student needs – students want to be able to do many administrative elements related to studying at higher education institutions online or remotely. They want more flexibility and freedom.
  • A change in facility needs – technology has highlighted gaps in many administrative and operational processes, which can be rectified with the right kind of digital software.
  • A need for enhanced accuracy and efficiency – students and their parents no longer want to stand in long registration lines or phone a number to find course costs, timetables etc. They want to access the correct information online from anywhere and at any time.

How to ensure higher education digital transformation success?

There is no doubt that digital technology answers to the changing needs of all higher education institution stakeholders. To take full advantage of the benefits associated with this technology adoption, you need to ensure that you choose the right system and have different measures in place to ensure its success. This includes:

  • Looking for a solution with a student-centric approach focused on creating collaborative, and authentic teaching and learning experiences while utilising active digital learning elements.
  • Choosing a service provider that will provide your staff with the support and training needed to effectively and efficiently utilise the technology to drive sustainable digital change.
  • Ensuring that the software solution chosen offers integration across educational departments and administrative teams to enhance communication and provide complete visibility across operational and departmental processes.
  • Looking for a solution that incorporates learning technologies that support better learning outcomes, offers self-service options, analytics and reporting, remote access, and is easy to use and navigate for students precisely. All of this enhances the inclusivity and accessibility of the institutions and aims to create a community of students.

Digitally Transform Your Higher Education Institution with ITS Integrator 

From reading the above checklist of what you should be looking out for when choosing a digital solution to transform your higher education institution, you may be thinking that no one solution would tick all these boxes. We are here to tell you that there is, and it is called ITS Integrator.

ITS Integrator aims to remove obstacles through streamlined applications. It is an enabled integrated back-office, as well as self-service functions for students and staff. The primary benefit of ITS Integrator is an integrated solution combining all business units into one comprehensive system, enhancing the administration of students and providing lecturer self-service functionality, improved or even total automation of administrative tasks, better reporting capabilities and superior record keeping. This digital technology software solution streamlines and simplifies complicated, time-consuming processes to decrease costs and ensure a smooth and satisfactory student and parent experience. 

This solution answers to the changing needs of students as well as the facility as a whole by:

  • Allowing students to register, apply, communicate and receive their results via mobile devices and the internet, they only need to be on campus for face-to-face lectures.
  • Streamlining and modernising the interaction between the institution and student dramatically improves the overall student and parent experience.
  • Cuts down time and cost, as the software handles the core function of record-keeping, enquiries, applications and admissions, registration, study records and assessments, residence management, lecturing, and examination timetabling.
  • Gives the option of increased student intake because the physical infrastructure is freed up of unnecessary feet.
  • Allows for the easy monitoring of student intake numbers, funding, accommodation, provision of books, automatic class allocation and optimal lecturer timetabling. Also allows for quick problem identification.
  • Creates efficient workflows to streamline decision-making while ensuring compliance with statutory requirements, including audit trail. The tool meets the compliance regulations of the country the institution is located in.

Conclusion

Digital transformation within this sector is set to continue to evolve and develop. Still, from the above, there is no doubt that the use and adoption of this kind of technology will support the institution’s facility, processes, operations and students. In the context of the transformation of education, when the right digital solution is chosen, it can improve the student experience, retain more students and ultimately enhance the institution’s profitability. For more on how the education sector is changing and adapting to digital transformation, download our Innovation in Higher Education Whitepaper.

Pravie Govender

Author Pravie Govender

Experienced Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the Tertiary Education Sector. Skilled in university business process analysis, business and systems project implementation, operational improvements and team leadership.

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