Technology is rapidly changing the future of humanity. And whether you see that as more I, Robot or Star Wars, there’s one thing you can’t deny: universities need to move fast to keep up. Tech is evolving all day, every day – and this fast turnaround is having a profound effect. 59% of IT departments in UK education establishments struggle to keep up with the pace of change1.
And it’s not like you can just ignore it. 87% of UK education establishments say it plays a key role in competing against other establishments, including driving ratings in league tables and attracting the best teaching staff2. Student expectations are rising when it comes to technology: they expect to have the best on offer when they’re paying fees to study somewhere. Plus, an increasing number of courses centre around IT. With the rise of careers in coding, web engineering and development, students need to learn the right skills to let them pursue such routes.
So, it’s no surprise that universities around the UK are investing more and more in technology. In fact, 8% of establishments plan on investing in virtual reality and augmented reality technologies in the next 12 months, and 7% plan on doing so in robotics3.
What are your prospective students thinking?
I don’t need to tell you how many variables affect whether a student picks your university or not: from the course structures and the lecturers, to the nightlife and the location, there’s a multitude of them. But now, when your prospective students are digital natives who’ve grown up with a tablet in hand and internet access everywhere, technology matters more than ever.
If your Wi-Fi isn’t reliable or secure, if your IT is old, or you don’t offer distance learning options, students will turn away. These elements aren’t “nice to haves” anymore. They’re part of the basic package that all students expect from a university. They’ve seen universities like Oxford and Harvard offering modules and entire courses online – and want to see the same happen for them.
Around the world, 96% of higher and further education establishments state that student feedback and engagement is a key priority when choosing new technology4. 100% of establishments in the UK want to balance levels of security and access in the next 12 months, and 84% want to ensure good quality wireless5. These are the building blocks of creating an always-on campus, which is fast becoming a pre-requisite for any university that wants to do well.
How forward-thinking are you?
The future of higher education is undoubtedly going to change. With a possible drop in foreign students due to Brexit, and more competition from taking other routes such as apprenticeships, internships and going straight into work, you need to work even harder to attract students.
Plus, the digital skills gap is growing: it’s costing the UK £63 billion every year in lost GDP6. Now it’s down to higher education establishments to close this gap. And that means persuading and inspiring students to study IT and technology courses, and to give them the best chance at succeeding by ensuring they’re digitally literate. And 90% of establishments feel this way, believing that they have a duty to ensure their students are ready for the digital future7.
Where on the journey are you?
Every establishment is on a different journey. You might have a perfect foundation of IT, and are ready to move into robotics and augmented reality. Or, you might be struggling with digital literacy and knowing where to invest.
Globally, 83% of students at higher or further education establishments have excellent or good levels of digital literacy – while only 28% of teachers are the same8. This discrepancy is one of the most important aspects to improve, because 33% of IT departments in the UK struggle to implement schemes due to a lack of digital competency in staff9.
So, there are a few things to look at:
- How digitally literate are your staff and lecturers?
- How good are your Wi-Fi and connectivity?
- Can you provide an always-on campus?
- Is your IT appealing to students?
If you want to attract the best students, staff and lecturers, IT is a key place to start. 90% of education establishments in the UK want to partner with third parties, to help them stay on course throughout their digital journey10. And at Fujitsu, it’s where we can support you. From giving your staff support and training, to ensuring your IT is suitable and appealing, we’re here to help.
For more insights and ideas, you can follow me on Twitter: @AshMerchant1. Or, get in touch with us to see how we can help you go digital.