Driving Efficiency in Student Services: Learnings from the …

Posted: 11/07/2018

Driving Efficiency in Student Services: Learnings from the 2018 ATEM Student Service Centre Conference

With an ongoing push for efficiency in the Higher Education sector, the 2018 ATEM Student Service Centres Conference (SSCC) addressed this critical issue from the perspective of Student Services to improve service levels and increase the Higher Education experience for each student.

Held over three days, at each of the major universities in Adelaide – the University of Adelaide, University of South Australia and Flinders University – the SSCC brought over 200 Student Service Centre staff together from around the country to hear about best practice in Student Services.

Among the presenters was Dianne van Eck, Higher Education specialist and Director of DVE Solutions who spoke in two of the concurrent sessions on the 8 Wastes in Higher Education and how they can be identified and addressed to reduce complexity in service delivery to students. The sessions were well received by more than 50 attendees, with many comments and examples shared on two of the eight wastes discussed – poor communication and Band-Aid solutions (quick fixes).

As sponsors of the event, we exhibited all three days and had the opportunity to speak to many of the Student Service Centre staff at the event as they came to collect our popular Business Process Improvement and Project Management Toolkits.

These conversations offered a lot of insight into the sector from both a student and Student Service Centre perspective. Insights that we’d love to share as you continue on your improvement journey within your institution.

Institutions are struggling with the implementation of reviews

While the value of reviews are well known in the sector and are required for accreditation and reaccreditation, the overwhelm of implementation and inability to agree on where to start is causing a lot of reviews to go unused.

It’s also not unusual for multiple reviews to be conducted before some recommendations are prioritised and implemented. Dianne has written more about these Barriers to Implementation in her latest blog along with some practical tips on how to get around these barriers.

Students are not being included in decisions

A common frustration among Student Service Centre staff is that students are not being included in key decisions despite being the stakeholder group most affected by changes. With Student Services committed to creating a better university experience for students, this disregard can increase the level of frustration experienced by students, and the amount of enquiries Student Service receive, adding another layer of complexity to their job.

Reviews conducted by DVE Solutions always include student feedback, as students offer a different perspective and provide important recommendations on improvement. Failing to consider the needs of this group during periods of change and improvement can be costly to an institution and can have future impacts on enrolments.

The frequency of restructures are increasing

With the pressure to become more efficient  it is not surprising that the frequency of restructures is increasing. Many of the staff we spoke to at the SSCC are either currently going through restructure or are in the process of recovering from one.

This constant upheaval is resulting in Student Service Centre staff feeling as though their hands are tied until the change has settled. Not only is this bad for morale, but it is also inefficient for the institution, adding to the problems the restructure is meant to solve.

Small practical solutions are a way to overcome action ‘freeze’

Student Service Centre staff were encouraged and empowered when hearing small, practical actions (like those discussed in Dianne’s 8 waste presentation) that they could take to make positive changes in their area. They saw these individual and team actions as a way to immediately improve levels of service to students and overcome the feeling of having their hands tied.

Our extended 8 waste workshop that would be done in-house with all Student Service Centre staff was also popular and considered a great way to overcome action ‘freeze’ and boost morale by getting all staff thinking about efficiency and working together to identify and eliminate waste.

Do you need help driving efficiency in your Student Service Centre? Call DVE Solutions today on 1800 870 677 to find out more about our in-house 8 Wastes Workshop. To explore more resources, head to our Learning Hub.