Change is inevitable – but are you making the right changes?

Posted: 31/03/2022

Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better”.  

The higher education sector has gone through considerable change over the past two years, evidenced in most universities and private providers by reduced expenditure and a reduction in staff numbers.

This change was largely forced on institutions by the outside influences of the pandemic. As we go into year three, it looks like the changes will continue despite an overall improvement in the environment.

What we are starting to see now, as domestic students return to campus and the door begins to open for new international students, is the consequences of two years of relative stagnation and reduced staffing. Systems and processes, which weren’t always in great shape before the pandemic, are now at breaking point. Processes that were held together by the quantity of staff or the knowledge of individuals are breaking.

So, where should you start?

Firstly, there needs to be an acceptance that change, and the need for financial investment in change, is inevitable. As Sydney J Harris put it,

Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better”.  

And we know that change is difficult at all levels of the organisation. Many staff will want to hold on to the status quo even under stress. But as Socrates said,

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new”,

 reinforced many years later by Bill Clinton,

“The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change”.

Secondly, with so many priorities facing the sector, there needs to be a focus on changes that will deliver rapid returns. Unfortunately, the ‘nice to do’ will have to wait for a few more years.

So, what are the essentials?

Attraction (Recruitment, Admissions, Enrolment and Credit):
  • Are your recruitment efforts targeted appropriately?
  • Are you measuring effort versus result and making the appropriate changes?
  • Have you got the right balance between your Tertiary Admissions Centre (TAC) and Direct applications?
  • Are the right applicants using the right channels?
  • Is your direct application process easy to use? (Is it easy to do business with your institution?)
  • Is your selection process as automated as possible?
  • Is it compliant?
  • Are you getting offers to applicants in less than 48 hours?
  • Are you assessing credit at the application stage?
  • Is credit assessed using an automated system with a well-maintained precedent database?
  • Are you managing block credit arrangements automatically?
  • How long does the credit process take – is it delaying offers?
  • How are you managing student communication through the process?
  • Are your offers clear? Does the applicant know what to do next?
  • Is your onboarding system effective?
  • Is your enrolment process easy for students to use – research, planning, selecting, and enrolling?
  • Are you tracking students lost at the right times in the process? Application to offer; offer to acceptance; acceptance to enrolment; enrolment to start; start to census.
  • When did you last review the end-to-end process? What actions are you taking to fix issues?
Retention (Student Support, Student Experience, Timetabling, Curriculum Management, Data):
  • Is your student support targeted at the right people?
  • Is your support system proactive or purely reactive to students asking for help?
  • Is it easy to access? Are students bounced from one service to another?
  • Are you using a CRM? Is it effective? Do students have to explain their situation every time?
  • Are you using demographic and behavioural data to identify students at risk?
  • Is the student experience enjoyable (students retain the learning but talk about the good experiences)?
  • Are you creating a sense of belonging and a love of learning that encourages lifelong learning and generates loyalty to your institution?
  • Are your courses and subjects up to date? Do you offer enough choice without excessively overloading the options?
  • Is your timetable effective in offering choices to students? Does it work equally well for full-time and part-time learners?
  • Do you collect and use data effectively?
  • Are you tracking attrition and progression?
  • Are you proactive in addressing challenges with student cohorts and individual students?

At DVE, we have enjoyed working with many universities and private providers who are driving improvements in attracting and retaining students. We have expertise and consultants who can support you and your teams in:

  • Journey mapping
  • Process reviews
  • Process mapping (“as-is” and “to-be”)
  • System requirements gathering and system implementation (particularly in Admissions, Enrolment, Credit, Timetabling, and Curriculum Management)
  • Retention, Reporting & Quality strategies, and frameworks
  • RASIC, Structural improvements, Change management
  • Student service management

Feel free to call us on 1800 870 677 for a chat.